A 24-year-old woman charged last year with kidnapping two children was sentenced Thursday in District Court.

Judge Susan Watters ordered Stephanie Grace Byington to serve concurrent five-year suspended sentences for felony charges of endangering the welfare of children and drug possession.

Byington was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and serve a six-month jail sentence, with all but 30 days suspended, for misdemeanor theft.

The kidnapping charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Byington has no prior felony convictions, but Watters said she agreed that a deferred sentence was not appropriate because of the serious nature of her crimes.

Byington apologized before she was sentenced and said she was working with state authorities to regain custody of her two children. Her attorney said Byington is making progress at drug and mental health treatment.

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Byington and her boyfriend, Daniel Wayne Stops, were arrested Aug. 25 at a downtown motel. Earlier that day, Byington was reported to have taken two children -- ages 21 months and 2 months -- from a woman who asked her to stay with her children in a car while she went inside a store.

The woman returned and found her car and her children missing. The woman said she had also left $1,131 in cash in the car.

The missing children were found with Byington and Stops in the motel room a few hours later. Officers also found methamphetamine and recently purchased clothing in the room.

At her sentencing, Byington was ordered to pay $1,131 in restitution.

Charges against Stops are pending.   

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State courts reporter for the Billings Gazette.