Monday, April 7, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man accused of eluding authorities for years while burglarizing remote cabins across a wide swath of Utah resolved part of the case against him Monday by pleading guilty to federal charges.
The plea deal for Troy James Knapp, 46, calls for a prison sentence of more than 10 years on weapons charges, pending a judge's approval at a June hearing.
But the so-called "Mountain Man" still faces dozens of state charges in seven counties, where he's accused of living in and ransacking cabins as he trekked through Utah's mountains.
Knapp, 46, pleaded guilty Monday in St. George to use, carry and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah announced. Charges of assault against a federal officer and felony weapon possession were dismissed.
Federal authorities alleged Knapp shot at a law enforcement helicopter and aimed an assault rifle at other officers before surrendering in April 2013 in the mountains outside the small town of Ferron in central Utah.
Knapp also is charged with more than 40 burglary-related crimes in seven counties. His attorneys have been negotiating with those county attorneys about plea deals, said Sanpete County prosecutor Brody Keisel.
The details of the deals have not been made public, but it's possible Knapp could get more than 10 years in prison based on the state charges, Keisel said.
The plea agreements with the counties could be done and presented at the June 9 hearing when Knapp is scheduled to be back in court for sentencing, Keisel said.
Federal prosecutors took the lead on the case in mid-September, postponing a plea hearing in Sanpete County. Keisel was designated a special assistant U.S. attorney to help in the prosecution of that case.
Monday's hearing was quick and uneventful, he said. Knapp, dressed in a prison jumpsuit, said nothing beyond entering the guilty plea.
Authorities say Knapp, on parole after a California burglary conviction, went on the run in 2004 and burglarized remote cabins across Utah. He evaded police for years while stealing guns, whiskey and supplies.
The charges from the seven counties go back to 2009, but authorities believe Knapp was breaking into cabins for several years before that. He left signature clues — rumpled bed sheets, sometimes a note taunting cabin owners or a sheriff, and often an empty bottle of liquor, authorities said.
Knapp carried a heavy backpack and often used snow shoes as he journeyed through the mountains. His legend grew when police released a cabin surveillance photo of him in snow shoes with a rifle slung over his shoulder in December 2011.