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BOISE -- The man accused of breaking into Zoo Boise last fall and killing a patas monkey has pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft and cruelty to animals.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Shawna Dunn said Michael Watkins, 22, of Weiser, pleaded guilty today to the reduced charges.

Prosecutors say Watkins broke in Zoo Boise on Nov. 17, 2012, with the intent of stealing a monkey. But the monkey fought back and Watkins hit the animal in the head with a tree branch. The monkey later died.

Watkins could face up to seven-and-a-half years when sentenced on May 15. He has been in the Ada County Jail since his arrest in November.

Dunn says Watkins has agreed to pay restitution for the damage to the zoo and the cost of bringing new patas monkeys to Boise.

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