Arrow-right Camera


‘Bandit’ appears in court today

Tue., July 13, 2010

Teenager faces ‘litany’ of charges in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas – A resourceful teenage fugitive whom police have called the “Barefoot Bandit” was being questioned inside a Bahamian jail Monday as he spent his first full day behind bars after an audacious two-year run that gave him near folk hero status.

Colton Harris-Moore was being held inside the two-story Central Detective Unit with access to phone calls and visitors from the U.S. Embassy as well as interrogators. Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said investigators were interviewing Harris-Moore but declined to say whether the 19-year-old had made any kind of statement to authorities or what they needed to build any case against him.

Harris-Moore was expected to make his first court appearance today on suspicion of illegal weapons possession as well as a “litany” of other charges stemming from the week he spent in the Bahamas trying to evade police.

Police captured the American teenager before dawn Sunday following a high-speed boat chase off Eleuthera, one of two sparsely populated tourist islands where Harris-Moore allegedly committed a string of burglaries since crash-landing a plane in the Bahamas a week earlier.

Greenslade said earlier that charges filed in the Bahamas will take priority over those in the U.S., but also noted the two countries have excellent relations and an extradition could happen more quickly than people might expect.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer asked by Harris-Moore’s mother to represent her son, said the theft and burglary charges in the Bahamas are relatively minor but that alleged possession of a gun at the time of his capture could complicate the case. He told CBS’ “Early Show” that Harris-Moore should waive any challenge to extradition and try to return to Seattle as soon as possible.

If the charges are consolidated in federal court, Harris-Moore is looking at potentially four to 12 years in prison, he said.

“These are all property cases,” said Browne. “There’s never been any danger to any human being other than Colton himself.”

Browne said he hoped to speak later Monday with the suspect, who as an adult will decide himself who represents him.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle, said that her office would seek to extradite Harris-Moore to Washington and coordinate with local jurisdictions about how his case would proceed.

“There are obviously many jurisdictions that would like to prosecute him,” she said.

Once Harris-Moore is extradited to Seattle, a grand jury will review a case involving the theft of an airplane from Bonners Ferry, Idaho – the sole federal charge filed against Harris-Moore – and additional charges could potentially be tacked on at that time, authorities said.

His mother, Pamela Kohler, issued a statement expressing relief that the manhunt for her son had ended.

“I am very relieved that Colt is now safe and that no one was hurt during his capture,” Kohler said. “I have not yet been able to speak to him. It has been over 2  1/2 years since I have seen him, and I miss him terribly.”

The Seattle Times contributed to this report.

Click here to comment on this story »