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Region in brief

Man gets 10 years for robberyA 22-year-old man who robbed a Billings casino at gunpoint and bound two employees with duct tape was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.

Nathan E. Sonsteng could have the sentence reduced if he completes boot camp and convinces District Judge Susan Watters that he has turned his life around.

But Watters warned Sonsteng that, even at his young age, he now has a criminal history that includes the use of violence and weapons.

“You better get serious, Mr. Sonsteng, or you’re just going to be in prison for the rest of your life,” the judge said.

Sonsteng apologized and said he was struggling with drug addiction when he robbed Lucky Lil’s Casino on July 16, 2000.

As part of his sentence, Sonsteng will have to complete substance-abuse treatment and pay restitution of $13,500. He pleaded guilty to a single charge of felony robbery in March.

Sonsteng walked in to the casino at about 8 a.m., pointed a semiautomatic handgun at two employees and demanded money. After getting cash, Sonsteng used duct tape to bind the wrists and feet of the employees.

Watters said the robbery was “significantly violent” and probably terrified the two victims.

The robbery was recorded on the casino’s video security cameras, and two people called police and identified Sonsteng as the suspect after pictures of the robbery were broadcast on Billings television.City man pleads innocent to assaultA Billings man who says he was retaliating for a racist slur when he attacked a man at a bar pleaded not guilty Thursday to assault with a weapon.

Robert Morris was arraigned on the charge in District Court and ordered held in the county jail on $50,000 bond.

Prosecutors say Morris was in the bar at the Circle Inn on July 19 when he attacked a man with a lamp. The man suffered a broken nose, fractured facial bones and cuts to his face.

The victim told police he was sitting at the bar with his girlfriend when Morris angrily approached him, then walked away. When the man went up to talk to Morris, the victim was struck with the lamp.

A witness said the attack happened after Morris was rebuffed by a second woman sitting with the victim.

Morris left the bar, but police found him later through a vehicle license plate number provided by witnesses. Morris, who is black, told police that someone in the victim’s group made racist comments toward him and that he was defending himself.Professor receives ice for reasearchBOZEMAN — A Montana State University-Bozeman professor has received some of the oldest ice on the planet as part of his search for lifeforms buried under Antarctica’s frozen surface.

A 143-pound box contained 11 ice cores drilled by Russian scientists at Lake Vostok in Antarctica recently was sent to John Priscu, MSU professor of ecology.

Vostok is a vast freshwater lake lying more than two miles under the East Antarctic ice cap.

Priscu and a team of scientists will begin studying the nearly 500,000-year-old ice this month. Priscu’s group undertook similar studies two years ago and gained international attention for isolating ancient bacteria from a piece of Vostok ice buried about 11,800 feet below the surface.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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