After being bitten by the primate he had released from its cage, Michael J. Watkins says he took a fire extinguisher and sprayed a circle of liquid around himself.
Those details came Thursday when the 22-year-old Weiser man accused of killing a Patas monkey in November pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a felony charge of attempted grand theft.
Asked by 4th District Judge Lynn Norton how he committed attempted grand theft, Watkins said: "After the Patas monkey was released from its cage, I pursued the Patas monkey in an attempt to return it to its cage. I abandoned that action and chose to try to throw it over the fence to set it free."
Regarding animal cruelty, Watkins told the judge: "The Patas monkey was exposed to fire extinguisher dust and I honestly feel that was needless suffering and after being unable to obtain the monkey I just left it out to roam around the zoo and I abandoned it to basically the cold."
Those answers to the judge were the only explanation Watkins offered on his role in the death of Cratey, the 35-pound male monkey.
The monkey died of blunt-force trauma to his head and neck, according to the zoo's veterinarian.
With Watkins' guilty plea, a jury trial set for later this spring is cancelled. A sentencing hearing is now set for May 16.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, Ada County prosecutors dropped felony charges of grand theft and burglary. There is no deal on a proposed sentence. Prosecutors can ask for up to seven years in prison for the attempted grand theft charge and up to six months in jail for the animal cruelty charge. Watkins can argue for less - including probation.
Watkin's account Thursday was the latest of several that have emerged over the months from court documents, police reports and Statesman reporting:
Æ Watkins told Boise police last fall that he was trying to set the Patas monkey free when it attacked him and he bludgeoned it with a tree branch.
Æ A friend with Watkins at the time told police they were walking by the zoo and Watkins suggested they go inside and steal a monkey. The friend said he stayed outside the zoo, but watched as Watkins jumped a zoo fence. He saw him chasing a monkey and trying to throw a coat over it. He said Watkins said the monkey bit him and that he was trying to capture it.
Æ Watkins, who has said he acted in self-defense, also blamed the monkey's death on his friend; that man denied being involved.
Æ Public defender Gary Reedy said in November that Watkins was distraught over his grandmother's cancer diagnosis and the deaths of other family members to the disease when his brother and some friends took him to Boise where he got drunk and was wandering around when he and a friend walked through Julia Davis Park and entered the zoo.
Æ Watkins' father told the Idaho Statesman that he suspected the death was a result of a drunken prank that got out of hand. Jerry Watkins said he'd been told his son was trying to get his picture taken with the animal when it attacked him. Police say Watkins told officers and other friends that, too.
A tip to Crime Stoppers led police to arrest Watkins Nov. 19. Police realized Watkins was the same man who had gone to a hospital with injuries to his upper torso. Watkins said he was injured in a bar fight, but police say he was bit by the monkey.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell