Dejon Tyrone Stewart, 20, was convicted Feb. 17 of a single felony count of grand theft of a firearm after he pleaded guilty to the crime.
Stewart was 19 when he was captured on surveillance footage wandering around the sporting goods store on April 1. He admitted to waiting until the store employees were busy with customers to reach over the counter, open the back door of a gun display case, and remove a black Glock G20 10mm semi-automatic handgun, which he concealed in the waistband of his pants.
A Kittle’s employee, who suspected Stewart of shoplifting, confronted Stewart and discovered several stolen items stuffed down his pants before asking the teen to leave the premises.
The gun was only discovered missing after Stewart left the store, and the surveillance footage was reviewed, officials said.
Stewart’s attorney on Monday said the young man deeply regretted the incident and asked Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson to take Stewart’s age and lack of life experience and maturity into consideration.
Stewart’s family, who wrote letters of support and attended Monday’s hearing, said they were new to the community from Fairfield, where they had been the victims of a drive-by shooting, and that the then-teenager only took the gun for protection.
Judge Thompson took the recommendation from the Probation Department to sentence Stewart to nine months in jail despite District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp’s request for a minimum sentence of one year.
Beauchamp said Stewart, who cannot legally possess a handgun in California, still refuses to tell authorities what became of the weapon, whether he still has it, sold it, or gave it to another.
“If he had given the gun back, it would be different,” Beauchamp said.
Stewart was previously arrested in Fairfield for possession of stolen property, and Beauchamp said police there said he was affiliated with a local gang.
Pat Kittle, owner of Kittle’s Outdoor, said the theft of the gun was the first of its kind in the 20 years the store had been open.
Kittle’s has since made changes, so an incident like that will not occur again.
Stewart’s criminal defense attorney, Ryan Freidman, of Sacramento, said his client had not intended to cause grief to the merchant and that Stewart was now motivated to be deserving of a second chance to do well in this community.
Stewart’s family on Monday paid restitution in the amount of $579.99, the purchase price of the gun.