A felon has pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a gun that he left with four unsupervised children in his Moorhead, Minn., home, where one of the children accidentally shot and killed the man's 6-year-old cousin.

Phillip N. Jones Jr., 34, entered his plea Thursday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul in connection with the death of Marcellus Dixon, who was shot and killed on March 21 at an apartment in the 400 block of Sunrise Circle.

According to the filing of the plea deal, federal sentencing guidelines call for Jones to receive a prison term ranging from 2 ½ years to slightly more than three years.

However, according to the plea deal, prosecutors said that "due to the aggravating circumstances of this offense, including the death of a child," the government will seek a term of up to 4 ¾ years.

Jones remains jailed without bail ahead of sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.

According to the criminal complaint:

Marcellus was among other children playing in the kitchen.

The loaded handgun had been retrieved from inside a box of snack chips atop a kitchen cabinet. One of the children fired a shot that ricocheted off the stove and hit the 6-year-old.

Jones' criminal record includes felony convictions in Hennepin and Anoka counties dating back about 14 years. Among them are attempted drive-by shooting, fleeing police and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Paul Walsh