January 27, 2012 in Region

‘Barefoot Bandit’ sentenced to 6 1/2 years

Associated Press
 

SEATTLE — A federal judge on Friday sentenced “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore to 6 1/2 years in prison for his infamous two-year, international crime spree of break-ins, and boat and plane thefts that ended in 2010.

Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the United States, authorities said. He flew a plane stolen in northwestern Washington to the San Juan Islands, stole a pistol in British Columbia and took a plane from Idaho to Washington state, stole a boat in southwestern Washington to go to Oregon, and took a plane in Indiana and flew to the Bahamas, where was arrested.

He earned his nickname because he committed several of the crimes without wearing shoes.

Harris-Moore addressed the court shortly before U.S. Judge Richard Jones imposed the sentence, which will be served concurrently with state prison time.

Harris-Moore said he is remorseful and it’s “no stretch of the imagination to say that I am lucky to be alive.”

Before Friday’s sentencing, defense attorneys said federal prosecutors released cherry-picked excerpts from emails in an effort to make Harris-Moore appear callous and self-aggrandizing.

The 20-year-old called the Island County sheriff “king swine,” called prosecutors “fools,” and referred to reporters as “vermin.” He also described his feats — stealing and flying planes with no formal training — “amazing” and said they were unmatched by anyone except the Wright brothers.

But his lawyers claim the full emails show that Harris-Moore is sorry for what he did and thankful for the treatment he received from a state judge who called his case a “triumph of the human spirit.” The state judge sentenced him last month to seven years, at the low end of the sentencing range.

The attorneys acknowledged that in certain instances he bragged, but they said those writings were simply the product of an impulsive adolescent and don’t reflect his true remorse.

Federal prosecutors had asked for a 6 1/2 year term to be served while Harris-Moore serves his state time. His attorneys had asked Jones to impose a federal sentence of just under six years.

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