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Herald staff | rking@heraldnet.com
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Barefoot Bandit's mom says she'll take the blame

CAMANO ISLAND -- The Barefoot Bandit's mother says she's willing to take the blame for her son's criminal behavior if it means her boy will serve less prison time.

"I'll take the blame if it'll get my kid out faster," Pam Kohler told The Herald Tuesday.

Kohler's son, Colton Harris-Moore, 20, is accused of stealing five planes, boats, cars and committing dozen of burglaries across nine states and three countries.

His federal sentencing date recently was moved back six week to Dec. 9 because officials required more time to schedule a hearing on state charges and to review mitigation reports, officials said.

John Henry Browne, Harris-Moore's defense attorney, said reports written by experts about his client's upbringing detail Kohler's alleged drinking and poor parenting skills.

"We're not surprised (Colton) survived five plane crashes," Browne said Monday. "We're surprised he survived Pam."

Kohler, who said she initially contacted the renowned Seattle attorney to represent her son, now is at odds with Browne. She accused the attorney of not having a defense for her son, and blaming her instead.

"I know I'm going to be the fall guy in all this," she said.

Harris-Moore didn't listen to his mother when he lived in her Camano Island home, and he's unlikely to listen to her now, Kohler said.

"Bad parenting doesn't cause a kid to do the things Colt did," Kohler said. "I sure as hell didn't encourage him."

Kohler was quoted in news reports telling her then-fugitive son to leave the United States and flee to a country with no extradition treaty. She told reporters her rules for her son's flying airplanes included only piloting twin-engine aircraft and always wearing a parachute.

Court records show that Kohler and her son had a tumultuous relationship, at best, and that state officials tried to offer services to the family.

An expert hired by Browne to write a mitigation report about Harris-Moore borrowed family photos from Kohler. When the expert didn't immediately return what Kohler considered family heirlooms, Kohler accused the expert of stealing the photos, she said.

Kohler said she called the expert every hour until the photos were returned.

Recordings of those phone calls now are part of the reports that will be presented to the courts when Harris-Moore is sentenced.

Harris-Moore earned the Barefoot Bandit nickname because he sometimes went shoeless at crime scenes.

In June, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to federal charges. He still faces more than 30 charges in state court.

He's expected to be sentenced to up to 10 years behind bars. He was arrested in the Bahamas in July 2010 after a two-year crime spree.

Harris-Moore is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Sea-Tac.



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