SEATTLE — Federal prosecutors have less than two weeks to file an indictment against Colton Harris-Moore, the “Barefoot Bandit” from Camano Island. A judge also could again extend the deadline, now set for Nov. 15.
The notorious fugitive, 19, gave up his right to speedy court proceedings. That allowed defense attorneys and prosecutors time to sort through the dozens of allegations against the accused serial burglar and thief. He was charged by complaint for stealing an Idaho man’s plane that crashed near Granite Falls in October 2009.
Crime labs in a string of states continue to process evidence allegedly connected to Harris-Moore.
“We’ve inundated various labs with all kinds of requests,” said Charlie Silverman, a deputy prosecutor in San Juan County, where Harris-Moore faces at least one count of second-degree burglary.
The 6-foot, 5-inch tall fugitive was arrested July 11 in the Bahamas after more than two years on the run. Harris-Moore was barefoot when police placed him in shackles. He was brought back to Seattle promptly and put behind bars.
He remains in a jail cell at the federal detention center in Sea-Tac. He reportedly is being held in solitary confinement as he awaits trial.
John Henry Browne, Harris-Moore’s attorney, waived the right to a speedy indictment and didn’t argue for Harris-Moore’s release, citing his history of fleeing incarceration. Browne had been busy in Skagit County in a high-profile murder case unrelated to Harris-Moore. That case concluded late last month.
Meanwhile, prosecutors have been collecting evidence and meeting with victims in crimes believed linked to Harris-Moore.
“We continue to work on building the criminal case,” said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. Federal prosecutors also are working with prosecutors in various counties to determine where Harris-Moore may be held accountable and be forced to stand trial.
The federal government has no jurisdiction over state crimes, said Greg Banks, the prosecutor in Island County. Harris-Moore faces nearly a dozens charges in Island County, where he grew up, and Banks said he plans to proceed with his cases. Global resolution, where the federal and state charges are settled in one proceeding, is unusual.
“He’s an Island County problem that ended up causing problems elsewhere,” Banks said Friday.
Island County officials already have begun making contingency plans to accommodate an anticipated media swarm should Harris-Moore appear in the county courthouse in Coupeville. Parking is limited in the area, as is space in the county’s two small courtrooms.
Managing the high level of media interest in the case could be a deciding factor for some counties as officials weigh the evidence to make a charging decision, Banks said.
Other county prosecutors hinted that officials at the state level may cooperate in bringing charges against Harris-Moore.
Banks indicated those discussions are “very preliminary.”
Harris-Moore allegedly stole five planes, dozens of vehicles and broke into homes and businesses in a two-year crime spree that stretched from Camano Island, through the San Juan Islands, south to Oregon and then east to Indiana. A plane stolen from Bloomington, Ind., crashed in the Bahamas where Harris-Moore’s run ended.
Harris-Moore was charged with theft in Madison County, Neb., where prosecutor Joe Smith said he’s patiently waiting to begin proceedings.
“We’re waiting in line for our turn,” he said.
Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437; firstname.lastname@example.org.