A woman received a 20-year sentence for committing a string of casino robberies last October that prosecutors say was an attempt to raise bail money for a man with the street name “Darkness.”
District Judge Russell C. Fagg sentenced 42-year-old Karen Kay Damron on three counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery. The charges bring her felony conviction count to 11, according to prosecutors.
Charging documents say Damron robbed or tried to rob five casinos in the Billings area over about 24 hours on Oct. 18 and 19. Prosecutors say she was trying to raise bail money for a man later identified as James Vincent Cracraft, who was in the county jail and has since been convicted of multiple felonies.
At each casino, Damron walked in and asked an attendant to make change, court records say. When the attendant pulled out money, Damron either grabbed the cash or demanded the attendant hand it over. Three times, she left with money. Attendants at two casinos refused to hand it over.
The judge ordered her to pay more than $4,300 in restitution.
Damron’s attorney, Paula Saye, said her client has the “saddest story” and has suffered mental and physical abuse since childhood. Damron was given marijuana by her mother at age 9 and was injected with heroin at age 13 by her father, Saye said, adding that Damron was also sexually abused as a child.
“She’s been through so much,” Saye said. “She doesn’t seem to be getting the mental health treatment that she needs.”
“I don’t have a problem doing incarceration,” Damron told Fagg. “It’s society I have a problem with.”
She said when she isn’t incarcerated she isolates herself until she relapse into substance abuse.
“I caused an atrocity in this town because I relapsed,” Damron said, adding, “I’m not a victim of my childhood, I’m a survivor of it … that’s all I have to say, and I’m sorry. These were just the crimes I was caught and charged for."
Fagg said he appreciated her sincerity. “I also have to appreciate these are serious charges,” he said.
At Damron’s request, the judge recommended she be admitted to the culinary arts program at the Montana Women’s Prison.
“And, Ms. Damron, I wish you the very best,” he said.
Damron’s robberies and attempted robberies happened at the Nickel Ante Casino, 2646 Grand Ave.; the Cedar Ridge Casino in Laurel; Lucky Lil’s Casino, 2711 N. Frontage Road; the Diamond Jubilee Casino, 1214 Main St.; and Doc and Eddy’s Casino, 927 S. 32nd St. W.