The woman accused of robbing three Midland banks in December pleaded guilty to the crimes Wednesday afternoon.
Jacquelyn Jane King, 61, Midland, is charged with three counts of bank robbery as well as habitual offender second offense in connection with bank robberies that occurred on Dec. 6 at the Comerica Bank at 401 S. Saginaw Road, Dec. 20 at the Members First Credit Union, 600 W. Wackerly St., and on Dec. 31 at the Chemical Bank at 3400 Isabella St.
King stood stick straight before Midland County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan E. Lauderbach to be sworn in, raising her right hand though her handcuffs were attached to a belly chain. After some discussion, Midland County Prosecutor Mike Carpenter and King's defense attorney, Jack I. Pulley of Midland, agreed to an offer on the table: a minimum sentence of no more than 71 months and a maximum of no more than 15 years in prison in exchange for guilty pleas to all three bank robbery charges. The agreement also calls for the habitual offender enhancement to be dismissed at the time of sentencing.
Bank robbery is a felony punishable by up to life in prison.
Lauderbach explained to King that he is not bound to follow the agreement, and that by making the pleas she will waive her rights to trial and to an automatic appeal in the case. She still may ask the state Court of Appeals to hear the case, to which the court could choose to hear the appeal or not.
King's voice was steady as she replied to Lauderbach when he asked how she wanted to plead, one question for each count. "Guilty," she said, three times.
Lauderbach then asked questions of King to show the elements of the crimes.
"I walked in. I laid a note on the counter. The note spoke for itself," King said of what happened at the Comerica Bank. "The note asked for money in her drawer and read there was a knife," she continued when asked about the note. King said in all three cases, her intent was to steal money, and that she didn't know the tellers but did understand that her actions caused them fear.
After Lauderbach accepted the pleas, Pulley requested a sentencing hearing be held in the case. At that hearing, he will present information for the judge to take into consideration for sentencing. That hearing is set for Dec. 17.
The hearing at which King will be sentenced for the crimes has been scheduled for Dec. 19.
Officials have not revealed a motive for the robberies, but probation records from a previous court case show King was ordered not to gamble or enter any gambling establishments.
After the plea hearing, Pulley said his client regrets her actions and is looking forward to being able to help other people who have gambling addictions.
"Her deepest regret is to the people she traumatized," he said, adding King takes full responsibility for her actions. "That burden is never going away."
He said King has a "burning desire" to help others avoid the problems she was not able to, and that he's not sure our community realizes what a pervasive problem gambling is here.