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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: John Henry Browne

Mistrial after juror blasts defense lawyer

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — A mistrial has been declared in a Kitsap County drug case after a juror was overheard expressing a desire to punch prominent Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne in the nose. 

The Kitsap Sun reports that Browne, whose high-profile clients have included “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore, repeatedly sparred with Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman during the trial.

Browne (pictured) reportedly ignored the judge's order that he keep his objections to a single word and was twice fined $500.

Browne said the judge's rulings in the case called his mental state into question.

By last week Browne refused to continue to participate in the trial in protest of Spearman's handling of the case. A mistrial was declared after a bailiff overheard a juror expressing a desire to punch the attorney.

Browne's client, Dominic Briceno, had been accused by county prosecutors of six drug-related felonies. Spearman ordered a fact-finding hearing concerning Browne's conduct for July 27.

Feds balk at sale of Barefoot Bandit story

SEATTLE (AP) — Plea negotiations involving the young man known as the “Barefoot Bandit” have hit a snag as federal prosecutors balk at letting him sell the rights to his sensational tale, even if money from movie or book deals is used to repay his victims, his attorney said today. 

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, led authorities on a two-year game of cat-and-mouse in stolen boats, planes and cars that finally ended with his arrest in the Bahamas last summer.

He earned the moniker by committing some of his crimes barefoot, his daring antics earned him a popular following, and plans for movies or books about the case are already in the works. One of his charges alleges he stole a small plane from the Bonners Ferry airport.

His lawyer, John Henry Browne, doesn't dispute the allegations.

He has long maintained that Harris-Moore has no interest in profiting from his crime spree but would be interested in selling his story if it meant his victims could be repaid.

Plea talks initially called for proceeds from such deals being turned over to a court-appointed special master who would dole out the money to victims. But in the last few days, prosecutors have said they're reluctant to let Harris-Moore sell his story at all, Browne said.

The U.S. attorney's office in Seattle did not return calls seeking comment. The office generally does not discuss plea negotiations; Browne said prosecutors have not made any final decision about the publicity rights.

“If the victims don't get paid, it's not going to be Colton's fault,” Browne said. “There are going to be movies and books about this case anyway, so the government is not going to minimize what Colton did. It doesn't make any sense.”

Many of the losses sustained by burglary or theft victims were covered by insurance companies, which could be in line for a share of publicity deal proceeds.

Harris-Moore is due in court Thursday, where he is expected to plead not guilty to a superseding indictment filed against him.

Browne and Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts had previously said in court they hoped to have a plea deal reached by the end of last month that would provide the framework for resolving state and federal charges against Harris-Moore.

The new indictment, returned last month, added a bank burglary charge to the five other federal charges against Harris-Moore: interstate transportation of a stolen plane, gun, and boat; being a fugitive in possession of a firearm; and piloting an aircraft without a valid airman's certificate.

The new indictment also includes language requiring Harris-Moore to forfeit “any and all intellectual property or other proprietary rights belonging to the defendant” based on his publication or dissemination of his tale. Browne has thus far represented Harris-Moore for free, and he said he is not seeking to have Harris-Moore sell publicity rights so that he himself can get paid.

The government indicated it would never agree to using book- or movie-deal proceeds to pay for Harris-Moore's legal representation, Browne said, and that was taken off the negotiating table long ago.

“I'm losing $100,000 or more on this case,” Browne said. “I'm sticking with it because I need to see it through for Colton.”

Harris-Moore grew up on Camano Island north of Seattle and was known to sheriff's deputies from the time he was a young boy. By his mid-teens, he had convictions for theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes. Deputies once caught him by pretending they were delivering him a pizza.

In early 2008, Harris-Moore escaped out the window of a halfway house south of Seattle, and began once again burglarizing vacation homes in the islands of Washington state. He also started stealing planes from small airports in the region, though he had no formal flight training and totaled two of the aircraft in crash-landings.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early this year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands.

He then stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar, where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors say. He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen from in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash.

From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas. He was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat.

In all, Harris-Moore is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ injures ankle in jail

SEATTLE (AP) — The man accused of being the Barefoot Bandit injured an ankle while playing volleyball at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

Attorney Emma Scanlan told The Seattle Times today that Colton Harris-Moore is on crutches.

The 20-year-old from Camano Island is accused of a crime spree that stretched from Puget Sound to the Caribbean, including burglaries, and boat and airplane thefts.

He earned the nickname because he allegedly committed some of the crimes while barefoot.

Harris-Moore was arrested on July 11 in the Bahamas and is awaiting trial on six federal charges and more than 30 state felonies. One of the federal charges accuses him of stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar.

Attorney John Henry Browne says a plea deal is in the works.

Plea deal expected for Barefoot Bandit

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington's “Barefoot Bandit,” who is accused of evading authorities for two years as he pilfered cars, boats and airplanes in a daring cross-country crime spree, could wind up reaching a blanket plea agreement that would avoid trials in more than a dozen jurisdictions, his lawyers said Friday. 

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, crash-landed a stolen airplane in the Bahamas last year and was arrested at gunpoint before being returned to the U.S.

Though he has pleaded not guilty, his attorney, John Henry Browne, has freely discussed Harris-Moore's intent to accept responsibility if a deal resolving state and federal charges in about 17 jurisdictions can be reached. 

Browne (right) declined to discuss Friday how much prison time he expects his client to receive under any deal, but he previously said Harris-Moore is looking at anywhere from four to 12 years if convicted.

A deal could also involve Harris-Moore donating any movie- or book-deal profits to repaying victims, Browne said.

“Everyone is trying very hard to resolve every case … in this case,” said Browne, pictured right.

The U.S. attorney's office says Harris-Moore is the primary suspect in scores of crimes since he escaped from a group home near Seattle in April 2008. They include stealing five airplanes, three of which were wrecked in crash landings; dozens of break-ins at homes and businesses; and the theft of cash, food, electronics, firearms, cars and boats across nine states, British Columbia and the Bahamas.

The federal charges stem from late 2009 and last year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands; stealing a pistol in eastern British Columbia; stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar ) where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall, and flying it to Granite Falls, Wash., where it crashed after running out of fuel; and stealing a 32-foot boat in southwestern Washington and taking it to Oregon.

From Oregon, authorities said, the self-taught pilot hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas.

His escapades earned him cult status as an authority-mocking folk hero.

Harris-Moore appeared before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones for a status conference Friday. Both his lawyers and Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts told the judge they've made progress toward a plea deal, which could be reached by the end of May.

“There are still a lot of moving parts,” Roberts said. “We think it can all work out.”

After the hearing, Browne said the plea deal would likely involve Harris-Moore pleading guilty to federal crimes in federal court, and all Washington state crimes in a single state superior court — most likely in Island County, which encompasses Camano Island, where he grew up and was known to police from boyhood.

He also faces charges in San Juan County and Skagit Counties, and prosecutors and police in other counties, including Snohomish, Mason and Kitsap, are still investigating cases that may be linked to him.

Browne said he plans to travel to the Midwest soon to meet with prosecutors there.

Deal possible in Barefoot Bandit case

SEATTLE (AP) — The attorney for the teenager accused of being the “Barefoot Bandit” is working with prosecutors to negotiate a plea deal the lawyer says could involve using movie- or book-deal profits to compensate the victims of an alleged two-year, cross-country crime spree.

Through his lawyer, defendant Colton Harris-Moore, 19, pleaded not guilty this morning to federal charges that include the theft of a small plane in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, last fall.

He also pleaded not guilty to four other federal charges for an alleged cross-coutnry crime spree that ended with his arrest in a stolen boat in the Bahamas

“He’s very reluctant to make a dime off this, he really is,” said his lawyer, John Henry Browne (pictured). 

However, Browne said that when he told his client that money from movie or book deals could be used to repay victims — and incidentally win him a more favorable plea deal, with less time behind bars — “that changed his mind a little bit.”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle declined to comment on whether it is negotiating a possible plea deal with Harris-Moore. 

The “Barefoot Bandit” moniker was coined after a thief committed some of the crimes without socks or shoes and gained a big following on the Internet.

Harris-Moore is accused of leading authorities on a cat-and-mouse game in pilfered cars, boats and small planes after allegedly escaping a halfway house south of Seattle in 2008. This year he made a daring cross-country dash that ended four months ago after he allegedly stole a plane in Indiana, crash-landed it in the Bahamas and was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat.

Harris-Moore, who was indicted by a grand jury last week, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler on Thursday wearing prison khakis over an orange shirt. He stated his name and year of birth, and frequently looked down during the brief hearing.

He told the judge he understood the charges against him — interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, a stolen firearm and a stolen vessel, as well as being a fugitive in possession of a firearm and piloting an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate.

Browne entered the not guilty plea on Harris-Moore’s behalf. Afterward, the attorney told reporters that discussions are in the early stages on a possible deal that could resolve federal and state charges against Harris-Moore.

Not guilty pleas are typical at this stage, even if defendants later intend to change their pleas.

Four of the five counts against Harris-Moore carry maximum sentences of 10 years in prison, and Browne said that realistically his client could be looking at anywhere from four to 12 years if convicted. Trial was set for Jan. 18.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early this year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands; stealing a pistol in eastern British Columbia; stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall, and flying it to Granite Falls, Wash., where it crashed after running out of fuel; and stealing a 32-foot boat in southwestern Washington and taking it to Oregon.(The plane in Bonners Ferry was owned by a cattle rancher)

From Oregon, authorities said, the bandit hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas.

In all, Harris-Moore, a self-taught pilot, is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

A possible plea deal by Harris-Moore would require the consent of prosecutors in other jurisdictions.

Some, including Greg Banks, the prosecutor in Island County, where Harris-Moore grew up and where he was first arrested at age 12, have indicated they want Harris-Moore to answer for local crimes in their courts, rather than in one overarching plea in federal court in Seattle.

If those prosecutors don’t want to cooperate, “I’ll bankrupt them,” Browne said, citing the expense of putting on a high-profile trial in small, rural counties.

The assertion drew a chuckle from Banks.

“I’ve had calls all morning about whether a jury trial over a bunch of burglaries is going to bankrupt our county, and the answer is no,” Banks said. “It was a funny thing for him to say.”

Banks, however, said he wouldn’t rule out agreeing to a global plea deal if it meant any profits could be used to repay victims, but he noted the complexity of working out such a deal. And, he said, Harris-Moore wouldn’t necessarily need to sell his story to pay restitution.

“He’s a fairly industrious young man,” Banks said. “By the time he gets out of custody he’ll probably be able to get a job and make some money. He’s talented.”

Browne said Harris-Moore has been in solitary confinement at the Federal Detention Center south of Seattle, where he’s been drawing airplane designs and reading about aircraft and nature. He’s received letters from his mother and aunt, but few visits, and he’s not interested in getting out of solitary, Browne said.

“He’d rather stay where he is, which is rather unusual,” the lawyer said.

Barefoot Bandit doesn’t like all the attention

SEATTLE (AP) — The “Barefoot Bandit” has received movie and book offers but is not interested in telling his story — nor does he want anyone else to do it, according to his attorney.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, is being held in Seattle on a federal count of interstate transportation of stolen property related to a plane theft at the Boundary County Airport in Bonners Ferry last fall.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Harris-Moore is the primary suspect in at least 80 crimes committed since he escaped from a group home near Seattle in April 2008.

They include stealing five airplanes, three of which were wrecked in crash landings, dozens of break-ins at homes and businesses, and the theft of cash, food, electronics, firearms, cars and boats across nine states, British Columbia and the Bahamas, where he was captured.

His attorney, John Henry Browne (pictured), told ABC News that Harris-Moore’s time as a fugitive wasn’t planned and he eluded authorities because he was afraid to turn himself in.

“He was sleeping in culverts, in ditches — and on occasion in a Porta-Potty or two,” he said.

Browne said he spoke with Harris-Moore for four hours on Saturday and found him to be “fascinating, intelligent and introspective.”

“He wanted me to give the message to the public that what he did was not romantic, that he shouldn’t be a role model,” Browne said during an interview on “Good Morning America.” ”He actually doesn’t like the attention he is getting.” (Seattle print shop owner Adin Stevens is pictured last October displaying a t-shirt he said he print on whim to celebrate Harris-Moore.)

Harris-Moore doesn’t plan to profit from his story and doesn’t want anyone else to either, Browne said.

“He felt if he told it or gave it away, it would no longer be his story,” Browne said. “Almost like, if you look in a mirror, your soul is stolen. It was really interesting.”

Asked about whether Harris-Moore flaunted his “Barefoot Bandit” image by drawing bare feet with chalk at one burglarized store, Browne said Harris-Moore intended it as a spoof.

“It was kind of like silly 19-year-old humor,” he said.

At a court hearing Friday, Harris-Moore did not contest his detention and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court appearance will likely come after a grand jury indictment.

Read an in-depth story on Harris-Moore’s time in the Bahamas, written by a Seattle Times reporter who traveled there, by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

July 23: Bandit’s lawyer: He was scared to death

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Bandit’s lawyer: ‘He was scared to death’

After Colton Harris-Moore’s brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle Thursday, his prominent Seattle defense lawyer had a message for the teen’s apparent admirers. 

“For any of the kids out there that think this is fun, it is not,” John Henry Browne told news reporters, according to a video from the Seattle Times. “He was scared to death most of the time…and he’s concerned that kids will think this was fun.”

Browne described Harris-Moore as “very smart but not terribly mature.”

“He seems like a kid… the whole media thing creeps him out…He doesn’t know what’s going on…He’s confused about it.”

Browne’s associate, Emma Scanlan, said Harris-Moore is “very relieved, actually, to be done with being lonely and being on the road by himself. I think things got out of control for him.”

Harris-Moore did not contest his detention Thursday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court appearance will likely come after a grand jury indictment.

The 19-year-old, captured after a boat chase in the Bahamas July 11, is accused of stealing a Cessna 182 from the Boundary County Airport last fall and crash landing it near Granite, Falls, Wash.

Past coverage: Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

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