Man pleads no contest in assault, imprisonment case

Becky Vargo • May 22, 2018 at 8:00 AM

A Ludington man faces up to life in prison after pleading no contest to charges in Ottawa County that he assaulted and imprisoned his girlfriend shortly before Christmas.

Jason Kapala, 30, responded to Judge Jon Hulsing that he understood that his status as a habitual offender significantly increases the penalty he will receive when sentenced June 18 in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

“This was an extremely serious assault and there will be some serious consequences as a result of this,” Hulsing emphasized before accepting Kapala’s plea. 

On Monday, Kapala pleaded no contest to: unlawful imprisonment (carries a penalty up to 15 years); assault by strangulation (penalty up to 10 years); domestic violence third (penalty up to five years); and felonious assault (penalty up to four years). Habitual offender raises the first three counts up to life in prison.

“So, you’re looking at life,” Hulsing said. “That’s the maximum penalty you’ll face.”

In exchange for his plea, Kapala will not be charged with an additional count of criminal sexual conduct.

His prior convictions include: domestic violence in September 2015 and November 2016, resisting/opposing a police officer in January 2008, criminal sexual conduct fourth in April 2009, and interfering with an electronic device in 2016.

Hulsing went over the facts of the case during Monday’s hearing:

On Dec. 23-24, 2017, Kapala was in a dating relationship with the victim and went to her home in Holland Township, got angry with her, and head-butted her and injured her nose.

Hulsing said the man held a knife to her throat and did not let her leave. He choked her until her vision was impaired and her body went weak, and forced her into a car against her will.

"It's just a sad, classic case of domestic violence by someone who, frankly, is quite a menace," said Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office. "The victim was held against her will in her own apartment. She was ultimately able to leave there of her own accord, but not until she was held there for over a day."

The victim told police that Kapala threatened her with a knife, and she sustained what Bennett called "a multitude of injuries." Her injuries were significant, but not life-threatening, Bennett said.

"There's a cycle of domestic violence here and she was finally able to get the courage to go in (and report it), which we're thankful for," Bennett said.

Holland Sentinel reporter Audra Gamble contributed to this story.

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