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FARMINGTON — The cigarette store clerk charged last fall in the shooting of a shoplifter pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said Jarrett Breeden was sentenced to 18 months of probation for the fourth-degree felony offense. Upon the successful completion of his probation, the offense will be discharged, or removed, from Breeden's criminal record, O'Brien said.

Breeden was defended in the case by attorneys Victor Titus and Steve Murphy of the Titus & Murphy Law Firm.

Murphy said he believed the plea agreement was reasonable, given the risk presented by a trial.

Breeden was initially arraigned in district court on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and negligent use of a deadly weapon after he was accused of shooting Jermaine Smith on Sept. 26 at the Still Smokin' located at 5529 U.S. Highway 64.

Breeden, a store employee, allegedly caught Smith, 21, attempting to steal spice from the shop and chased him out the front door. Once they were outside, Breeden allegedly shot Smith in the leg, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Smith, who declined to address the court at Breeden's plea hearing, pleaded guilty in November to felony shoplifting and was also sentenced to 18 months of probation. O'Brien said his office decided to offer a plea bargain in the case due to Breeden's lack of a criminal record and the fact that Smith was attempting to shoplift from the store.

"You can't defend property with deadly force, but (shoplifting) is certainly something the jury may take a dim view of," O'Brien said.

Murphy said Breeden is no longer employed at the smoke shop.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.

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