Homeless man convicted of burglary for entering cargo area of Delta plane

James Crabtree, 35, faces up to 5 years in prison

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

KEY WEST, Fla. - A homeless man was convicted of burglary Thursday, three years after he tried to stow away on a Delta Air Lines flight at Key West International Airport.

James Crabtree, 35, was found guilty of the third-degree felony Thursday following a half-day jury trial.

He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced June 28. 

Crabtree was arrested June 4, 2015, after a Delta employee found him in the forward storage bin of the plane around 6:15 a.m.

Surveillance video showed him walking toward the plane at 11:46 p.m. the night before.

Authorities said Crabtree told a Monroe County sheriff's deputy that he had arrived in Key West June 3 on a Greyhound bus.

He said he jumped a barbed-wire fence near the FedEx building and walked to the plane "because he wanted to leave the country," a police report stated.

Authorities said Crabtree confessed to breaking the seals on the door and climbing inside.

The Delta employee said Crabtree was found "curled up as if he had been sleeping."

Authorities said Crabtree said he wanted to go to Cuba, although it's unclear where the plane was supposed to be heading that day.

When asked if he had been uncomfortable sleeping in the plane's storage area, Crabtree told a deputy, "It was better than sleeping in a chair. I slept very good in there," the report stated.

According to the police report, Crabtree believed there was a CIA conspiracy against him. The report stated that Crabtree said "there is a group of people trying to help him get out of the country" and "he doesn't care where he goes as long as it is out of the country."

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