Colton Harris-Moore’s sentencing delayed to December

SEATTLE — Colton Harris-Moore’s federal sentencing date has been rescheduled for Dec. 9 to allow state prosecutors more time to settle the Barefoot Bandit’s criminal matters around Washington, officials said Monday.

Extra time also was requested

by federal probation officials to review documents describing Harris-Moore’s childhood on Camano Island, Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne said.

Harris-Moore, 20, had been scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Oct. 28. He now must wait six more weeks to learn how long he’ll s

pend behind bars.

“I just wish closure could happen on this and so does Colton,” Browne said Monday.

The extra time is “to allow time for state prosecutors to get their plea hearing on track,” said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

Browne accused Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich of delaying resolution of the state cases.

Weyrich on Monday declined to comment.

Harris-Moore is accused of a multistate crime spree that included plane theft, boat theft and multiple burglaries in homes and business. The Camano Island native evaded arrest for more than two years. His story drew international attention and became an Internet sensation.

He earned the nickname “The Barefoot Bandit,” because he frequently went shoeless at crime scenes.

In June, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to seven federal charges but he still faces more than 30 charges in Island, Skagit, San Juan and Snohomish counties, the region where he spent the most time prowling vacation homes and plundering businesses.

Greg Banks, the Island County prosecuting attorney, has been trying for months to schedule a hearing for Harris-Moore in Island County Superior Court in Coupeville.

Harris-Moore is widely expected to plead guilty to the dozens of burglary, theft and identity theft charges when he appears in state court. The cases are expected to be consolidated in Coupeville.

That may now change if Skagit County continues to challenge the terms of a plea arrangement, Browne said.

The Coupeville hearing first was anticipated during the late summer, Banks and other officials had said.

As weeks went by, logistics and other priorities delayed scheduling.

Then the hearing was expected in October, but further delays have prevented Banks from pinning down a date, he said.

“Some parties are still working out details of a proposed plea agreement,” Banks said Monday.

Harris-Moore’s defense team also recently received two lengthy mitigation reports, Browne said. The documents delve into Harris-Moore’s childhood, including his relationship with his mother, Pam Kohler.

Kohler, who still lives on the south end of Camano Island, reportedly drank heavily. State officials were called repeatedly to her home to try to bring help to the family.

During her son’s crime spree, she frequently spoke with reporters, delivering messages to Harris-Moore via the media.

Recently she said she fears for her life.

“I suppose there are lots of people who would like to shoot me,” she said. “I’m the mother.”

One of the reports prepared for Harris-Moore’s sentencing includes a recording of several incoherent phone calls made by Kohler to the report’s author, Browne said.

The documents shed new light on the conditions Harris-Moore faced as a child.

“We’re not surprised he survived five plane crashes,” Browne said. “We’re surprised he survived Pam.”

Federal officials need more time to review the reports prior to sentencing, Browne said.

Logistics involved with bringing Harris-Moore to Island County, including the anticipated media throng, make an October hearing date “very unlikely,” Banks said.

“I would like nothing more than to move this case forward, either by plea or by trial, but there are aspects that are not under my control,” Banks said.

Harris-Moore faces up to 10 years behind bars. He was arrested in July 2010 in the Bahamas and has been behind bars since at the Federal Detention Center in Sea-Tac.

In August, Harris-Moore signed a $1.3 million life-rights deal with Twentieth Century Fox. The Barefoot Bandit won’t be getting rich, though. The money will go directly to the federal government to repay the more than $1.4 million Harris-Moore owes in restitution.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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