Plea deal for Utah homeowner who shot at burglar
By Michael McFall
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 12 2013 03:24PM
A Davis County man who was arrested for shooting at a suspected burglar who was fleeing his property resolved the case with a plea deal Tuesday.
Clare Bindrup Niederhauser, 64, was charged in 2nd District Court with class A misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
On Tuesday, he entered a plea of no contest in abeyance to a lesser count of class B misdemeanor discharge of firearm from a vehicle, near a highway, or in direction of any person, building, or vehicle.
The case will be dismissed in 12 months so long as Niederhauser stays out of trouble, pays a $700 court fee and completes a firearms training course, which he will take from his defense attorney, James "Mitch" Vilos, who is a certified firearms instructor.
Niederhauser also had to surrender his handgun.
After the hearing, Vilos read a statement written by Niederhauser, which said in part: "My actions … were not consistent with the training and instruction I have received [or with the law]... I have learned a great lesson." Neiderhauser added in his statement that he was not prepared for the effects of emotion and adrenalin associated with the burglary situation, and could not be sure where the bullets he fired hit.
Layton police say that on Jan. 31, Niederhauser came home to find a 47-year-old man using a pry bar on the front door of his house near 2500 E. Gentile Road. Niederhauser got a handgun from his car and told the suspect to drop the pry bar, police said.
Meanwhile, a 60- to 70-year-old male suspect and a woman, between 20 and 30 years of age, backed out of Neiderhauser’s driveway in a gray four-door car and fled the scene. Niederhauser allegedly fired once at the vehicle, though it’s unknown whether he hit it.
When officers arrived, the suspect with the pry bar ran into a nearby field. Niederhauser fired once into the field before officers ordered him to put away his weapon, police said.
Officers soon found and arrested the suspect, Robert Santos Cruz. They also arrested Niederhauser for risking killing or seriously injuring another person when he fired his gun.
Cruz remained in jail Tuesday in lieu of $10,230 bail. He was booked on suspicion of burglary, in addition to previous counts of assault, drug possession and speeding. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 21.
Layton police are asking anyone with information on the remaining two suspects in the case to call 801-497-8300.
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