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Billings man pleads guilty to kidnapping, killing


BILLINGS (AP) — A Billings man charged with kidnapping an Illinois man and his girlfriend from a motel, robbing them and killing the man has reached a plea agreement that calls for him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Simon Elliott Jacobson, 28, pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated kidnapping and deliberate homicide for the Jan. 17 death of Dejuan Laster of Rockford, Ill. Jacobson also pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery by common scheme for 11 casino robberies — 10 in Billings and one in Livingston — that netted $70,000 in cash between April 2012 and January 2013.

Prosecutors announced in April that they would not seek the death penalty, and District Judge Gregory Todd asked Jacobson if he was aware of his rights and had discussed the case with his public defenders.

"I do not feel like I deserve the possibility for parole," Jacobson told the judge. "It's unfortunate that I took Dejuan's life, and nobody deserves to lose their life, no matter what they are involved with."

Jacobson said he believes a death sentence would only have served to give him more legal options and led to a "long, drawn-out process that would have been painful for everybody."

Prosecutors alleged Jacobson learned that Laster might have a large sum of money and had been following him for some time. He said he was able to identify him from the distinctive Camaro he drove. Jacobson said he came up with the plan for him and a co-defendant to pose as FBI agents to break into a motel room and force Laster and his girlfriend into separate vehicles at gunpoint.

An investigation found about $8,000 was stolen from Laster. The woman was dropped off at her mother's house and warned not to "discuss the investigation."

Jacobson acknowledged picking up his co-defendant and driving Laster to a spot north of Billings, where he shot him three times with a 9 mm gun. He then bought some potting soil and bleach and stole a shovel from a shed on the way back to the site near Shepherd.

Jacobson told investigators he thought he heard Laster groaning so he struck him in the head several times. He said he dragged Laster into a culvert and poured bleach on him and used the potting soil to cover up spots where Laster's blood had pooled.

Co-defendant James Walker was arrested on Jan. 19 and implicated Jacobson in the shooting.

Jacobson was arrested in Denver on Jan. 21 and returned to Billings.

Jacobson also pleaded guilty to violating his probation in a 2003 burglary case in an agreement that calls for him to immediately begin serving a one-year prison term.

A sentencing date has not been set.

Walker is charged with deliberate homicide, kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping by accountability.


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