FARMINGTON — A local businessman pleaded guilty Monday to firing a rifle to scare off waterfowl on a pond and hitting an apartment complex Sept. 3, 2015.

Clayton King, 71, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct with a weapon in Franklin County Superior Court. He was indicted on the charge in January.

King owns C.J.’s Appliance at 279 Titcomb Hill Road in Farmington with his wife, Joyce. He created Fish N Play pond last year across from the appliance store. The pond is stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout.

If the case had gone to trial, two witnesses would have testified they heard a bullet pass by inches away from them while sitting outside Deer Crossing Apartments on Titcomb Hill Road, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said.  

Another person would have testified she heard a loud noise in her apartment when a .22-caliber bullet hit the building, inches from her window, and was embedded underneath the siding, Robbins said.

A Maine game warden would have also testified that King admitted to shooting his rifle from his truck window near, but not at, waterfowl on a man-made pond King created off Titcomb Hill Road, Robbins said.

Justice William Stokes accepted the plea and agreement, which delays sentencing for two years. If King adheres to the agreement, he will be able to withdraw his plea to the felony charge and plead to a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct. He would pay a $300 fine, plus surcharges. King must also pay restitution to the building association, but the amount was unknown Monday.

If King does not fulfill the agreement, he faces sentencing on the original charge, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, Stokes said.

“I don’t need to tell you, Mr. King, that this could have been disastrous,” he said.

King said it has crossed his mind.

His attorney, Walter “Woody” Hanstein, said the bullet apparently bounced off the water. He called the incident a “freakish accident.”

King is also chairman of the Planning Board.

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