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Knox squirrel hunter sentenced for shooting friend

A Knox County man who accidentally shot his hunting partner while aiming at a squirrel was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison on federal gun charges, officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Jimmy Ray McDonald, 47, told a Knox County sheriff's deputy he was in the woods with Brian Myrick on Oct. 14 when McDonald shot his .22-caliber rifle at what he thought was a squirrel, hitting Myrick in the side, according to an affidavit from an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Myrick later died.

Federal authorities later charged McDonald with being a felon in possession of a handgun. McDonald was convicted in 1983 on a charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon and has also been convicted of theft, burglary, escape (twice) and driving on a license suspended because of a drunken-driving conviction.

McDonald was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves in London.