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December 16, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Barefoot Bandit sentenced to seven years in prison

Colton Harris-Moore, right, faces the judge for sentencing at Island County Superior Court. His attorney, John Henry Browne, is on the left. (Photo by Mike Seigel / The Seattle Times)

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.: Colton Harris-Moore was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday afternoon for 33 felony charges in three local counties.

Judge Vickie Churchill said Harris-Moore’s childhood — with an abusive and alcoholic mother — doesn’t excuse his crimes, but that it should be taken into account.

“This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it’s also a triumph of the human spirit in other ways,” she said, calling his upbringing a “mind-numbing absence of hope.”

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.: The hearing resumed at 1:30 p.m., with psychologist Richard Adler, hired by the defense, talking about Colton Harris-Moore’s childhood and upbringing.

You can watch his testimony live here, and read his report here.

UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.: Several victims spoke to the court, telling the judge how they feared for their safety after their homes or businesses were broken into.

Some were upset that Harris-Moore was thought of as a hero when he was on the run, and that he had some measure of public support.

“He’s been in my store numerous times and taken an amazing amount of things,” said Kyle Ater, owner of Orcas Homegrown Market. He noted that many of the businesses burglarized by Harris-Moore are no longer in business. “It wasn’t by accident.”

The hearing has stopped for lunch, and will resume this afternoon with a presentation from the psychiatrist who examined Colton Harris-Moore at the request of his defense team.

Before the break, his defense attorneys addressed the court, assuring the judge that: “The victims are correct. Colton Harris-Moore is not a hero. He certainly does not believe himself to be that … Colton was genuinely shocked by this concept that people feared him.”

They intend to ask for a six-year sentence at the end of the hearing. “We’re afraid his spirit would be killed and destroyed by a lengthy sentence. That would serve no purpose whatsoever,” said attorney John Henry Browne.

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.: Victims of Colton Harris-Moore are beginning to address the court. You can watch a live stream here.

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: Colton Harris-Moore pleaded guilty after the break to additional 17 felony charges from San Juan County, for a total of 33.

Now, the prosecutor is asking the judge for the longest sentence possible, nearly 10 years. He called Harris-Moore a “menace” and said people in the area were afraid in their homes, and also afraid to leave their homes.

ORIGINAL POST: Colton Harris-Moore, dubbed the Barefoot Bandit, will be sentenced this morning on more than a dozen felony charges stemming from his  two-year crime spree in Island, San Juan and Snohomish counties.

At a morning hearing in Island County Superior Court in Coupeville, Harris-Moore stood in an orange jumpsuit and spoke in a loud, clear voice as he told the judge he pleaded guilty to 16 Island County charges. The judge then called a 15-minute break at 10 a.m.

The hearing will resume with a sentencing hearing, at which some of Harris-Moore’s victims will speak. One of the burglary charges could bring a 10-year prison term.

His attorney is seeking a six-year sentence at today’s hearing, to run concurrently with the federal sentence.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in June to seven federal felony charges in a plea agreement that recommend he serve five to six years in prison to resolve the federal aspects of his crimes. The deal also turns over all proceeds to victims from a reported $1.3 million movie deal about the Barefoot Bandit’s story.

In a two-year crime spree, Harris-Moore stole two airplanes and a boat, and had a cross-country string of break-ins and thefts before he was captured in the Bahamas.

You can read prosecution and defense arguments prepared for the hearing here, as well as a psychiatric evaluation of Harris-Moore.

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: Barefoot Bandit, Colton Harris-Moore, sentencing


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