A Laurel man accused of robbing a casino and swimming across the Yellowstone River to elude police was charged with additional offenses Thursday, including the theft of a police officer's gun and handcuffs.
Sundance Marshall, 18, pleaded not guilty in District Court to felony conspiracy to commit theft for the robbery last week of the River's Edge casino and restaurant in Laurel. The bartender at the time of the robbery and Marshall's alleged accomplice, Johnathon E. Black, 25, also pleaded not guilty to the felony conspiracy charge.
Both men were ordered held in the county jail on $50,000 bond.
In addition to the casino robbery, Marshall was charged with felony theft and burglary. Prosecutors say Marshall last November broke garage and a car owned by a Billings police officer and stole a duty belt that was stored under the seat. The duty belt had the officer's department-issued Glock handgun, several bullet magazines, handcuffs, pepper spray, a multi-purpose tool, a flashlight and a portable two-way radio.
Most of the items from the officer's duty belt, including the handgun, were eventually recovered.
Judge Susan Watters set Marshall's bond at $50,000 for the theft and burglary charges, concurrent to the conspiracy bond amount.
At his arraignment, prosecutors said Marshall has a lengthy criminal record as a juvenile and should be considered a high risk to flee if released from the county jail.
Marshall was arrested after a nearly 11-hour manhunt on April 10. The chase began at about 7 a.m. when Marshall ran from a home as sheriff's deputies approached. He swam across the Yellowstone River in the Duck Creek area, then eluded a search helicopter and police dogs. He was arrested at about 5:40 p.m. when a couple spotted him walking down a road in the Duck Creek area.
Marshall's arrest followed the robbery of the casino the night before. Black reported the robbery at 11:30 p.m., and told sheriff's department investigators a masked man broke through a plate glass window, fired two rounds from a .357-caliber revolver and fled with about $1,270 in cash. Black was the only person inside the bar at the time of the robbery.
But several aspects of Black's report raised investigator's suspicions, including the hole in the glass that Black said the robber came through. The hole was barely large enough for a person to pass through, and the jagged glass most likely would have caused serious injury.
Sheriff's Det. Seth Weston said other aspects of Black's story didn't seem to make sense, and a check of his record showed Black was recently released from prison on parole. He had been working at the bar for two or three weeks before the robbery, Weston said.
Black's parole officer was called, and Black was arrested on a parole violation. At about 4 a.m., deputies and parole officers searched Black's home in Laurel, where they also spoke with his girlfriend, 20-year-old Christy Edwards.
Edwards told investigators she had been at the River's Edge the night before and heard Marshall joke about robbing the bar. She left when the bar closed at 11 p.m., she said. Later that night, Marshall and Edwards' younger sister, 17-year-old Heather Edwards, arrived at her house with a large sum of cash, she said. Marshall and her sister were dating, Christy Edwards told investigators.
Marshall gave the sisters some of the cash, she said, then Marshall and Heather Edwards left the home. Weston said they learned that Marshall was staying at a home on Kautzman Road south of Laurel, and at 7 a.m. deputies arrived at the home looking for Marshall.
Marshall and Heather Edwards ran from the house as deputies approached. Edwards didn't get far and was arrested. Prosecutors are preparing to charge her as a juvenile. Christy Edwards could be charged with a misdemeanor for accepting some of the stolen cash, prosecutors said.
Weston said investigators believe the revolver used in the staged robbery was lost in the river as Marshall fled. Some of the cash may also have floated away, he said.
No one was injured during the robbery. Marshall told deputies after his arrest he fired the gun to "add credibility" to the robbery.