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Man who shot 7-Eleven clerk over cigarettes pleads guilty to manslaughter

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who shot and killed a 7-Eleven clerk following an argument over cigarettes has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

Anthony William Cline, 31, was originally charged with murder in the Nov. 2, 2014, shooting death of 29-year-old Jamie Blalack as he worked at the Salt Lake City convenience store.

Cline was scheduled to face a jury this week in Blalack's death. Instead, Cline called last month for a change of plea hearing and admitted May 16 to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and felony discharge of a firearm, a first-degree felony.

In the plea agreement, Cline said he "fired a gun in the direction of Jamie Blalack, knowing he would be endangered." As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend concurrent sentences for the two charges. The first-degree felony firearm charge carries a potential sentence of up to life in prison.

According to police, Cline went to the Salt Lake City 7-Eleven, 1157 W. California Ave., about 1:20 a.m. where he got into some type of argument with Blalack over cigarettes. The argument ended when Blalack refused to sell cigarettes to Cline.

As Cline was leaving the store, a surveillance camera recorded him telling the clerk "he was going to come back and shoot him."

Cline walked into the 7-Eleven parking lot, pulled out a gun and fired once, police said. The shot went through the store's glass window and struck Blalack in the head as he was behind the counter helping another customer, killing him instantly.

After surveillance video from the 7-Eleven was released, police received numerous calls from the public that helped them identify and arrest Cline. He was found at a motel in Davis County where they also recovered a .45-caliber handgun, according to the charges.

Sentencing has been set for July 26.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero