Kidnapping, slaying suspect to be charged in 11 armed robberies

2013-02-14T09:00:00Z 2014-08-12T12:04:08Z Kidnapping, slaying suspect to be charged in 11 armed robberiesBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Simon Elliot Jacobson, the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Dejuan Laster while posing as a federal agent, faces additional charges that he robbed nearly a dozen casinos in Billings and Livingston.

Jacobson, 28, faces 10 counts of robbery in the Billings area dating to April 2012, including one four days before Laster's murder, and another casino robbery last September in Livingston, said Billings police Lt. Kevin Iffland.

The charges against Jacobson were filed Wednesday. He is expected to be arraigned in District Court on Friday on 10 felony robbery charges and one count of attempted robbery, as well as felony accusations of deliberate homicide with a weapons enhancement, aggravated kidnapping and kidnapping.

"We’re fortunate that we were able to clear 10 of our active robberies at once," Iffland said. "It all came together at the same time. Once the kidnapping and homicide came along, it all came together pretty quickly."

Jacobson was arrested in Denver in late January after law enforcement began searching for him in connection with Laster's shooting death on Jan. 17.

Prosecutors say that he and another Billings man, James Adam Walker, enacted an elaborate scheme in which they posed as federal agents to kidnap and rob Laster.

Charging documents state that Jacobson shot Laster and tried to hide his body after he and Walker stole about $8,000 from him.

Many of the casino robberies in which Jacobson is accused were armed robberies.

According to the affidavit, investigators began to notice that, among several factors, the robber's appearance and demeanor, as well as the gun used, were similar in each robbery.

"Long-term investigation had revealed patterns and consistencies among the casino robberies," the court documents state. "This eventually led investigators to believe a single individual was responsible for all of them."

In each incident, the robber, wearing dark clothing and a mask, walked into the casino and flashed a handgun before demanding money. Last September, police said investigators believed they all could be connected.

In one of the robberies, at the Bayou Casino on Laurel Road, an employee hit the robber in the head with a claw hammer, which "only enraged the suspect," who fired at least one shot back at the casino as he left with more than $15,000 in cash, the affidavit states.

Charging documents say the 11 robberies netted $73,908. In one of the incidents, the robber didn't net any cash because he showed up after the casino had closed.

When detectives in Billings were investigating Laster's kidnapping and death, they noticed that Jacobson matched the suspect profile they had developed in the unsolved robberies.

He admitted to the 11 robberies when questioned and provided police with details of them that hadn't been released to the public, according to charging documents.

"The Defendant said he wanted to confess to these robberies so people could rest easy and know that his string of robberies was over," the affidavit states.

Jacobson remains at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility on a $2 million bond.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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