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Texan pleads guilty to shooting crop duster plane

Published On: Nov 20 2012 01:23:03 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 20 2012 02:15:37 PM CST

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -

A West Texas man has pleaded guilty to shooting into a crop duster as the plane was spraying a neighbor's fields.

Prosecutors said 68-year-old James R. Cate of Talpa pleaded guilty Tuesday to making a threat to an aircraft. Cate, who appeared in federal court in Lubbock, faces up to five years in prison. No sentencing date was immediately set.

Investigators said Cate on Feb. 29 shot three rounds near the chemical-hauling crop duster in an effort to keep the plane away from his fields.

The last round Cate fired hit the propeller, went through the engine cowling and into the chemical hopper. The bullet broke into pieces as it entered the cockpit, going through the leg of the pants the pilot was wearing. The pilot wasn't hurt.