Morrill man receives prison sentence in Vets Home robbery

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A 32 year old Morrill man who entered a no contest plea regarding the theft of a wallet from a Western Nebraska Veterans Home resident was sentenced Friday to 10 to 16 years in prison.

Curtis Soester was convicted of being the man who took a wallet attached to a chain from Veteran's Home resident David Bixler's pocket outside the facility. Deputy Scotts Bluff County Attorney Scott Blaha said Judge Randy Lippstreu handed down the sentence, noting Soester had been in prison multiple times in Oklahoma. Blaha said Lippstreu also indicated it was "another case of Soester putting his selfish interests ahead of the safety of innocent citizens". The state had agreed not to pursue an habitual criminal enhancement in exchange for the straight up plea in early June.

Police say surveillance video showed the suspect arriving at the scene on a blue and white bicycle and court documents say an-off-duty officer observed a man riding a similar bicycle near the police department in the early evening hours. A search of the area located a blue and white bicycle matching the one observed in the surveillance video in the front yard of 1702 3rd Avenue in Scottsbluff.

Court documents say officers identified Soester, who said he was homeless but provided suspicious information about the bicycle and theft before interviews with other people resulted in his arrest.

While being transported to the jail, Soester allegedly provided the officer with the driver's license of the victim, which he had concealed prior to his arrest.

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