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ST. GEORGE — An accused cabin burglar known as the "Mountain Man" pleaded guilty Monday to firing a rifle at officers in a helicopter as attempts were made to arrest him.
Troy James Knapp, 46, charged in an indictment in U.S. District Court last fall with assaulting a federal officer and two violations of federal firearms laws, admitted to discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
"That was the most serious charge of the three that were in the federal indictment," said assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Bell.
As a part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop one count of assaulting a federal officer and one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Prosecutors will recommend Knapp spend 126 months in prison when he is sentenced June 9.
The federal case centered on Knapp's capture in a remote area of Sanpete County a year ago this month.
Knapp shot at a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter and aimed an assault rifle at other officers, including a deputy U.S. marshal and a U.S. Forest Service law enforcer as they tried to apprehend him.
Authorities say Knapp, on parole after a California burglary conviction, went on the run in 2004 and lived in and ransacked remote cabins across Utah. He eluded police for years while allegedly stealing guns, whiskey and supplies.
Investigators say he carried a heavy backpack and often used snowshoes as he trekked through Utah's mountains. His legend grew when police released a cabin surveillance photo of him — wearing snowshoes with a rifle slung over his shoulder — in December 2011.
Federal prosecutors took the lead on the case last September, postponing a plea hearing on state charges in Sanpete County.
Knapp also faces charges for burglary-related crimes in Beaver, Emery, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Sanpete and Sevier counties. One county prosecutor said Monday's plea in federal court is part of a larger agreement that could result in a resolution of the state charges.
Contributing: Sam Penrod, Paul Nelson