New charges for 'Barefoot Bandit' in plane theft
Colton Harris-Moore is already serving a seven-year prison term after pleading guilty to state and federal crimes, but Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich filed theft and burglary charges this month against the 21-year-old, accusing him of stealing an Anacortes couple’s plane in 2010 and flying it to the airport on Orcas Island, 10 miles away.
Harris-Moore had been a headache for local law enforcement in Western Washington since boyhood, and by his late teens had taken to joyriding in airplanes as a self-taught pilot. He earned his moniker by committing some of his crimes without shoes.
In 2010, he hopscotched across Oregon, Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois in stolen cars. He stole a plane in Indiana, crash-landed off an island in the Bahamas, and was arrested when police shot out the engine of a boat he took.
He sold the rights to his story to 20th Century Fox, with the proceeds going to repay the nearly $1.4 million he owes his victims.
Weyrich declined to join other Washington prosecutors in the plea deal filed in Island County Superior Court to resolve state charges against Harris-Moore.
“The crime was committed in Skagit County,” Weyrich said Wednesday.
The Skagit County prosecutor previously charged Harris-Moore, but dropped the accusations in 2011 to clear the way for the Island County plea deal. The charges were refiled on Feb. 8, and Harris-Moore will be transported from the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen to Skagit County to face them.
Prosecutors are seeking an exceptional sentence against Harris-Moore, which would authorize the judge to impose a sentence above the standard range for the crimes. The charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison. If he is convicted, some of the sentence could run at the same time as the one he’s already serving.
Harris-Moore’s attorney, John Henry Browne, did not learn of the new charges until Wednesday, when Harris-Moore called the office to say he’d been served with an arrest warrant from Skagit County.
“All the other prosecutors tried to get Weyrich to come along with the plea deal,” Browne said. “They all thought the sentence was fine, but I guess it’s not OK with Mr. Weyrich. I thought Colton Harris-Moore was supposed to be the juvenile here.”
Browne said that by declining to participate in the state plea deal, Weyrich had cut the Skagit County victims out of receiving restitution from any movie made about Harris-Moore. Weyrich said Wednesday he did not know whether that was true.
The Anacortes couple whose plane was stolen, Jeff and Linda Hendricks, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday. The plane sustained little damage.
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