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Gray pleads in casino robbery

A Havre man has pleaded no contest to reduced charges in the October 2010 casino robbery.

Merrill Gray pleaded no contest this morning to a felony charge of assault with a weapon and a misdemeanor charge of theft stemming from the Oct. 19, 2010, robbery of Magic Diamond Casino.

Gray originally was charged with felony robbery as well as the misdemeanor count of theft.

Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown, presiding over the hearing, said he will work with the attorneys to set a sentencing hearing that will take place after a presentence investigation is completed.

Gray was accused of entering the casino while wearing a ski mask and with socks over his shoes, apparently to prevent footprints from being used in an investigation, and threatening a casino employee with a knife. According to the charging information, Gray took an apron with cash in it and demanded the casino's safe be opened. The safe was on a time-delay and could not be opened.

In a no contest plea, Gray does not admit to committing the act but admits that he could not overcome the evidence that would have been presented in trial.

In the plea agreement under which Gray entered his plea, no sentencing recommendations were listed, with each side expected to enter a recommendation during the sentencing hearing.

A count of robbery carries a sentence of two to 40 years, while an assault with a weapon has a prescribed penalty not to exceed 20 years.


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