May 10, 2013 in City

‘Bandit’ pleads guilty, hopes for ‘beautiful life’

Ted Warren Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Colton Harris-Moore, right, stands in a Skagit County Superior Court room Wednesday with his attorney, John Henry Browne.
(Full-size photo)

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – The young man known as the “Barefoot Bandit” says he’s looking forward to leaving prison and having a “beautiful life.”

Colton Harris-Moore became known worldwide after running from the law in stolen cars, boats and airplanes as a teenager for two years. Now the 22-year-old is serving a seven-year prison sentence after a plea deal with federal and local authorities.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to burglary in a Skagit County court Wednesday, perhaps closing the lengthy saga involving a run from the law in stolen cars, boats and airplanes.

Harris-Moore acknowledged breaking into a small airport in Washington state in 2010 where he stole a plane during a two-year fugitive chase that ended in the Bahamas.

The guilty plea won’t change the time Harris-Moore will spend in prison. As part of a plea deal with the Skagit County prosecutor, he was sentenced to three months he has already spent in jail.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty last year to theft in connection with the 2010 Anacortes Airport break-in as part of a bigger plea deal that resulted in a seven-year prison sentence, wrapping state and federal charges.

Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert said Wednesday he expected that this was the final court appearance in the case.

“Hopefully, this is the last page and last chapter in the Colton Harris-Moore story,” the judge said.

Rickert acknowledge Harris-Moore’s difficult childhood and lack of parental support that led him to start breaking into cabins and stores as a teenager and that ended with dozens of felony convictions

“This is the high cost of low living,” the judge said.

Rickert noted signs that Harris-Moore is changing, such as his work with a mentor.

Also, defense lawyer John Henry Browne said Harris-Moore had passed his high school equivalency General Educational Development tests with only three weeks of study.

“If you can fly an airplane by a manual,” the judge said, “I guess you can pass a GED in three weeks.”

Browne said it wouldn’t be the last chapter in the Harris-Moore story, “because you’re going to hear a lot more from Colton, but in positive ways.”

Browne has clashed with Prosecutor Rich Weyrich and took another shot Wednesday over his filing of additional charges.

“This has been a waste of time and waste of money in my opinion,” Browne said.

Weyrich said he was satisfied with the result “under the circumstance that we had to deal with the case.”

“The point of the whole matter was that when this agreement was struck I disagreed, rather loudly, to the other prosecutors that this man was getting off way too light and that he should serve significantly more time than they wanted to give him,” Weyrich said. “And that’s why I backed out” of the earlier plea deal.

On Thursday, one of his attorneys released a brief statement Harris-Moore meant to be read in court this week in Skagit County.

In it Harris-Moore said, “The past holds experiences and lessons I’ll learn from for the rest of my life, but my future is precisely what I make it.”

He added: “I am working with amazing people, and I will have a beautiful life.”

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