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Judge denies request from ‘Mountain Man’ for new attorney

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MANTI — A man accused of evading police for years while living in burglarized cabins and the mountains told a judge Wednesday that he needs a new attorney because he doesn't trust the one he has.

After hearing Troy Knapp’s long-winded argument, 6th District Court Judge Wallace Lee denied his request.

Knapp, nicknamed "the Mountain Man," is a survivalist suspected of breaking into dozens of cabins in southern and central Utah over a seven-year span.

“I don’t care about attention,” Knapp told the judge. “I’m getting too much attention as far as I’m concerned right now with all this hubbub that’s going on.”

Knapp stood on his own Wednesday and told Lee he does not trust his attorney Lawrence Hunt, who was appointed to represent him six weeks ago. “When I reach out to my counsel with questions that do pertain to this case, and they are legitimate questions, I get nothing,” he said.

“I don’t see how I can go into the future not trusting somebody that’s supposed to be defending me."

Knapp is accused of breaking into summer cabins during the winter over several years, living off whatever supplies were inside, and then living in remote mountainous areas during the summer. In his summer campsites, investigators said they discovered high-end camping gear stolen from cabins as well as numerous firearms.

Knapp was arrested April 2 after authorities tracked him down near Ferron Reservoir. Police say he shot at a Department of Public Safety helicopter that was participating in the search.

He is charged with three counts of burglary, theft by receiving stolen property, second-degree felonies; purchase, transfer, possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person and criminal mischief, third-degree felonies; three counts of theft and two counts criminal mischief, class B misdemeanors.

Knapp on Wednesday seemed more concerned about federal charges that he may face for allegedly firing at the police helicopter.

“I’m also concerned about getting unconstitutional information about double jeopardy,” Knapp told the judge. “That’s against the Fifth Amendment, I think, where he says it isn’t, technically it isn’t double jeopardy, when it is. It’s in the Bill of Rights.”

In the end, the judge ruled Knapp will have to keep his public defender, unless he can hire his own attorney.

Knapp's family has hired an attorney to deal with those potential federal charges and Knapp told the judge he plans to do research to help in his own defense.

“I have a reasonable amount of intelligence, so I’d like to investigate law, and I will have plenty of time to do it,” he said.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com