Colton Harris-Moore calls case against him ‘high propaganda,’ court documents allege

SEATTLE — Days after an Island County judge called Colton Harris-Moore’s case tragic and said he represented a “triumph of the human spirit,” the Camano Island man known as the Barefoot Bandit said the government’s case was “high propaganda,” the sentence “political” and he characterized the police and prosecutors as “swine,” “fools,” and “asses,” according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Harris-Moore, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, a coda in the man’s legal proceedings since his July 2010 arrest in the Bahamas.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin P. Roberts juxtaposed previously released letters of remorse and humility written by Harris-Moore with intercepted emails he’s written from jail.

“The things I have done as far as flying and airplanes goes, is amazing. Nobody on this planet have done what I have, except for the Wright brothers,” Harris-Moore wrote in an Aug. 4, 2011 email, according to prosecutors.

The people Harris-Moore reportedly wrote and spoke with are only identified by their initials in court papers.

Harris-Moore gained international notoriety for stealing planes, boats and cars and spending years on the run from police. He is the subject of books and at least two forthcoming movies. He signed a $1.3 million Hollywood deal that is to be used to help pay $1.4 million restitution to his victims. Under terms of his plea agreement, the government made certain Harris-Moore can’t profit.

In December, Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill imposed a roughly seven-year sentence. She said she took into account Harris-Moore’s apparent remorse, his troubled childhood and previously undiagnosed psychiatric problems. State prosecutors had urged her to put Harris-Moore behind bars for closer to 10 years.

“It’s all political,” Harris-Moore wrote a couple a weeks later, according to another intercepted email. “I’m thankful for the judge saying what she did, but at the same time her words were greater than her actions — she had the ability as invested in her by the people to create change, and the opportunity to stand up with compassion, but didn’t reach that potential.”

Harris-Moore predicted that he’ll serve half the time imposed.

“I will emerge unscathed, with my plans back on track,” he allegedly wrote. “Just a matter of time no doubt.”

Friday’s hearing will have no bearing on the prison time Harris-Moore must serve for his state crimes. However, Judge Richard Jones can decide to order whatever federal sentence he imposes to be served consecutively to the state years — substantially increasing the punishment.

In keeping with the plea agreement, federal prosecutors have joined Harris-Moore’s attorneys in asking the judge to allow the federal sentence to be served concurrently with the state sentence.

In papers filed Tuesday, Harris-Moore’s defense team asked for just under six years. In support, they cited his remorse, his troubled childhood and recent diagnoses that Harris-Moore lives with post-traumatic stress disorder plus lasting effects from having been exposed to alcohol while still in the womb.

The assistant U.S. attorney asked the judge to impose the maximum, about 6 1/2 years, taking into account Harris-Moore’s careful planning of his crimes, his readiness to use force, and questions about his previously released statements of apology, humility and remorse.

Harris-Moore apologized to law enforcement in a Dec. 13 letter he sent to the Island County judge. That letter was included in the package delivered by the defense team to Jones on Tuesday.

Days before penning that six-page letter, Harris-Moore called the police “swine,” and referred to Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, “the king of the swine,” according to prosecutors, who quoted from a phone call they say was recorded while Harris-Moore spoke on a jailhouse telephone.

In the letter to the judge, Harris-Moore claimed he couldn’t break his cycle of crimes, that he was “entrenched with a path, and the situation had taken on a life of its own.”

The week after the Island County hearing, Harris-Moore reportedly wrote an email saying he feared more for his life during the sentencing hearing than he had while living as a fugitive. When he was on the run, he was in control.

Now, he faces prison, “Years spend unfree, captive, held against my will.”

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

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