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Utah's 'mountain man' survivalist sentenced to prison after guilty pleas

By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A Utah survivalist known as the "mountain man" who evaded police for nearly six years while looting remote cabins for weapons and supplies was sentenced on Monday to more than 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple state and federal charges.

Troy James Knapp, 46, was captured in April 2013 after a shoot-out and six-hour standoff in deep snow at an isolated cabin on Ferron Mountain, about 125 miles (200 km) south of Salt Lake City.

Knapp, who appeared before state and federal judges in St. George, originally faced 43 state charges.

But he agreed to a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to 11 counts of burglary for break-ins dating back to 2009 across the rugged high country of central and southern Utah, state court records show.

Fifth District Judge Eric Ludlow sentenced him to terms of between one and 15 years, to run concurrently, on each of the 11 second-degree felony counts.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sentenced Knapp to the minimum mandatory punishment of 10-1/2 years in federal prison, also to run concurrently, which had been called for by federal prosecutors.

"We are pleased the court accepted our proposed resolution in the federal portion of this case," the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. "It is a significant sentence."

Knapp, who will serve his sentence in federal prison, also pleaded guilty in April to one federal felony count of using a firearm during a crime of violence, for shooting at a helicopter pilot and pointing a gun at officers.

In exchange for the plea, federal prosecutors dropped additional charges of assaulting an officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm. A federal indictment says Knapp was using a stolen assault rife and handgun.

Knapp, likened by some police and locals to 19th-century American frontiersman Davy Crockett for his outdoor skills and hardiness, pillaged the mountain cabins for food, firearms and other supplies during the winter months.

Some cabins were riddled with bullet holes during the burglaries, court papers say, and Knapp sometimes left behind taunting and threatening notes for the owners or police.

After people looking for deer antlers spotted Knapp on Ferron Mountain, sheriff’s deputies tracked Knapp for several days before he was spotted by a state police helicopter while chopping wood outside a cabin.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

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