Plea deal reached for man charged with shooting at burglars

Posted at 9:12 PM, Feb 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-08 01:50:31-05

LAYTON, Utah - A plea deal has been reached for a homeowner charged with shooting at burglars. It’s the latest in what’s been an emotionally charged case over homeowners’ rights to defend their property.

”I think it's very unfair and unfortunate that they charged him in the first place,” said Robert Gibby.

Gibby hopes prosecutors drop a reckless endangerment charge against 64-year-old Clare Niederhauser.

Police say that last week, the Layton man came home and found burglars -- one in his house and two in a car parked on the driveway.

Niederhauser fired shots at the suspects and police determined that he put others in harm’s way and his life was never threatened.

”The law stands that we value life more than their property. Obviously if you or someone else is in immediate danger, you are authorized to use force but simply protecting property, you are not,” said assistant city attorney Steve Garside.

Police say 47-year-old Robert Cruz walked out of Niederhauser’s home holding a crowbar, then dropped it when the homeowner pulled a gun.

40-year-old Yolanda Gonzales was behind the wheel of the car in the driveway, police say. Cops arrested her Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. Both face felony burglary charges.

Niederhauser didn’t answer his door. FOX 13 didn't have a chance to hear his version of what happened.

Critics say the Layton man acted recklessly and should be stripped of his conceal and carry permit, but a woman who works nearby has his back.

“I feel if someone is on your property you can defend yourself with any means possible because it’s trespassing,” said Aelia Alvarez.

Neiderhauser's lawyer says a plea deal has been reached satisfying both sides. The details are unclear but that’s why no one commented at Thursday’s city council meeting.

If that agreement had not occurred, “You would have seen this place standing room only, many people were up in arms about the situation,” said Gibby.

Prosecutors say they can’t just drop all the charges. They say Niederhauser technically broke the law and will be held accountable but it’ll likely be a lesser punishment.

His lawyer will reveal more details at a press conference next Tuesday at 3 p.m. outside Layton City Court.

Related story:
Layton homeowner arrested after firing shots