A Texas man accused of trying to blow up a natural gas pipeline two years ago has been given a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole after entering a guilty plea late Monday.
The Dallas Morning News reported early Monday afternoon Anson Chi pleaded guilty to two of four counts he was facing. He was sentenced a short time later by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell; Chi has already filed an appeal.
Chi, 35, was charged with possessing an unregistered explosive device, maliciously using an explosive device, using a destructive device during a crime of violence and making false declarations in court.
"The court applied a terrorism enhancement and did an upward departure of the sentencing guidelines," the Department of Justice said in a news release Monday. "This enhancement classifies Chi as a domestic terrorist."
According to the paper, Chi, who represented himself, said he wasn't a terrorist but rather just wanted to test the chemical that he made using a recipe found online. In addition to the sentence, Chi must also pay more than $28,000 in restitution to cover damage to the pipeline.
Chi originally pleaded guilty to trying to destroy an Atmos Energy natural gas pipeline in Plano but later withdrew his plea, saying police had forced him to confess.
His plea Monday came hours after a jury was selected. Opening arguments were set to begin Tuesday in a Plano federal court
Chi, who was burned in the pipeline blast, was ruled competent for trial and has chosen to represent himself. He did have an attorney with him at the table to help answer legal questions as the trial continued.
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Chi corresponded with imprisoned Unabomber Ted Kaczynski before the 2012 blast, according to court documents cited by the Dallas Morning News, though Kaczynski eventually told Anson Chi to see a psychiatrist and stop contacting him.
Chi was trying to have the letters he exchanged with Kaczynski, who is serving life in prison over a deadly bombing spree between 1978 and 1995, barred from his trial.
NBC 5's Ellen Bryan and Catherine Ross contributed to this report.