Island County prosecutor piles on charges against Barefoot Bandit
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
May 17, 2011 · 2:23 PM
The Island County Prosecutor's Office filed four new charges Tuesday against 20-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called "Barefoot Bandit," in order to avoid running up against three-year statutes of limitations.
In all, Harris-Moore is now facing 14 felony charges in Island County Superior Court. He's currently in federal custody on five federal charges. Last week, the prosecutor in San Juan County amended charges against him to a total of 16.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who is handling the case, has made it clear that he wants Harris-Moore to be held accountable for his alleged crimes in Island County. Contrary to recent media reports, Banks said he doesn't expect to be a party in a "global settlement" or plea deal that would incorporate all the state and federal charges.
"Our victims have expressed concern that they will be lost in the shuffle if somehow the cases were all resolved in federal court. They didn't have airplanes and yachts stolen from them," Banks said. "They are worried that 'mere' burglaries won't be taken seriously there. They have also told me that, since Colton, the way of life on Camano has changed. They are sad about that."
"I think Colton needs to answer for that," Banks added. "I don't care too much about the airplanes. The harm he did to people's feeling of security is much worse."
That means Harris-Moore will eventually come to Island County.
Harris-Moore made national headlines after allegedly going on a nine-state crime spree, sometimes in bare feet, after his escape from a juvenile halfway house in April 2008. He's accused of committing numerous burglaries and stealing airplanes and boats. The alleged crimes didn't end until his arrest in the Bahamas in the summer of 2010. Harris-Moore is believed to have fled the United States in a plane stolen in Indiana.
The new charges reveal that a deputy with the Island County Sheriff's Office, a county government and a fire department were alleged victims of Harris-Moore's crime spree on Camano Island. Harris-Moore grew up on Camano Island and returned to the island where he broke into homes, stole from his former neighbors and even got in a brief car chase, police reports alleged. He eventually moved on to other counties.
The most serious accusation against Harris-Moore in Island County is that he stole a semi-automatic rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P-15, from a patrol car that a deputy had parked in front of his home in June of 2009. The deputy's portable breathalyzer and camera were later found in a woods, but the rifle hasn't been recovered.
Harris-Moore was also charged in a burglary at the county's Camano Annex from July of 2008. He took a safe with $370 in cash and a $2,000 projector; he was identified as the suspect from fingerprints, according to the police report. The safe was later found submerged in a pond. It had not been opened but the cash was destroyed by the water.
In all, Harris-Moore was charged in Island County with theft of a firearm, five counts of residential burglary, three counts of burglary in the second degree, two counts of identity theft in the second degree, identify theft in the first degree, computer trespass in the first degree and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.
If convicted of all the Island County charges, Harris-Moore could face up to eight and a half years in prison under the standard sentencing range. He's wanted on a $500,000 arrest warrant out of Island County.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.