LAYTON -- Clare B. Niederhauser pleaded no contest to illegal discharge of a firearm, a Class B misdemeanor, Tuesday in 2nd District Court.
He and his attorney met with the media following the court hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes.
Judge Robert J. Dale accepted the no contest plea.
As part of the plea agreement with the Layton City Attorney's Office, Niederhauser agreed to forfeit the Ruger 357 handgun he used. He also agreed to pay a $700 fine within the next 30 days and to take a class on the use of deadly force with a weapon.
If Niederhauser does not break any other laws in the next 12 months, the conviction will be removed from his record, said Mitch Vilos, his attorney.
The Layton City Attorney's Office had filed one count of reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor, against Niederhauser, 64, of Layton.
Niederhauser said in court, "I didn't ask for this to come my way."
He apologized "for taking the law into my own hands. I should have known better."
Vilos said after the court hearing that he encourages all gun owners to become well versed on using deadly force.
With Niederhauser by his side, Vilos read a statement from Niederhauser.
"This has been a very emotional and very difficult past few days," Vilos read.
He then said Niederhauser was grateful for the support he has received from neighbors and the community.
"The action of discharging my gun on Jan. 31 was not consistent with the training and instruction I received, nor consistent with the state law," Vilos read.
He then said Niederhauser "was not prepared for the adrenaline and emotion" that interfered with his ability to act in accordance with his training.
"I cannot be sure where the bullets I fired hit," Vilos read. "To my friends and fellow citizens, we do have the right to protect ourselves, but it must be within the parameter of the law. Please know you do not shoot at a fleeing felon unless someone's life is in immediate danger.
"Remember we value life more than property."
Because Niederhauser fired his gun, police had to investigate the shooting, but also could not question him without an attorney concerning the people who burglarized his home.
Teuvo Jones, a neighbor and friend of Niederhauser, was among the dozen supporters who attended the court hearing.
"We all feel safer as a neighborhood," Jones said about Niederhauser's actions.
He said there are mixed emotions about the plea deal, but knows that was done with Niederhauser's approval.
"I know Clare is a good man," Jones said.
Layton City Attorney Steve Garside said Niederhauser is a good man who violated the law. The plea agreement allows prosecutors to go forward with the cases against two people who have been arrested in connection with the burglary.
Robert Santos Cruz, 47, who was inside Niederhauser's house when Niederhauser came home at 4 p.m. on Jan. 31, appeared in 2nd District Court on Feb. 6. He is charged with one count of second-degree felony burglary and one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.
A felony arraignment hearing for Cruz is set for Feb. 21 before Judge Thomas L. Kay.
Police arrested Yolanda Gonzales in Salt Lake City on Feb. 6 and booked her in the Davis County Jail on one count of burglary. She is being held in lieu of $15,000 cash-only bail.
The Davis County Attorney's Office is reviewing the case before filing formal charges in 2nd District Court.
When Niederhauser came home that day, he saw a car parked in his driveway, police said. As he walked up to the front door, the occupants of the car started honking. A man, later identified as Cruz, came out the front door, carrying a crowbar.
Niederhauser, who has a concealed weapon permit and was carrying a gun, confronted Cruz, ordering him to drop the crowbar, which he did, police said. The vehicle then backed out of the driveway and headed east and Niederhauser fired a shot, police said.
After the car left, Niederhauser used a cellphone to call 911.
When the first police officer arrived, Niederhauser turned his attention to the officer and Cruz ran to the back yard area, police said. Niederhauser followed him and fired another round into the field.