Barefoot Bandit case heads to Island County court

COUPEVILLE – When Colton Harris-Moore last appeared in Island County Superior Court, he was a regionally-known nuisance.

He’ll return to Coupeville as the “Barefoot Bandit,” an American outlaw who is a folk hero to some and internationally known for stealing planes and running shoeless from some of his crimes.

Since leaving here for a juvenile prison in 2007, he’s accused of committing nearly 100 crimes in several states, Canada and the Bahamas.

On Friday he pleaded guilty in federal court and took responsibility for many of the charges, but he must return to Coupeville to answer to state allegations.

The Camano Island man, 20, also is expected to plead guilty to more than 30 felonies in Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan and Island counties.

“In principal, we think we’re pretty close,” Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks said.

State officials agreed to consolidate state charges into one case heard in Island County.

Prosecutors have been negotiating with Harris-Moore’s defense attorneys while Island County officials make arrangements for the high-profile case.

The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Vickie I. Churchill. Her courtroom holds 90 people, and officials plan to offer a live video feed of the proceedings, Banks said.

The video feed is expected to be broadcast across Center Street in the Island County commissioner’s hearing room.

Harris-Moore hasn’t appeared in state court to be arraigned on the dozens of burglary and theft charges he faces.

He was arrested in July 2010 in the Bahamas and held in federal detention since being extradited to the United States.

He still needs to enter a plea and face state sentencing. Banks said officials are trying to avoid multiple hearings.

“There’s no reason we couldn’t handle (the arraignment and sentencing) in a single hearing,” Banks said.

State officials need to apply for a writ to allow Harris-Moore to be transferred from federal detention to the Island County Jail.

Then, schedules need to be aligned among victims, prosecutors, defense attorneys, courtrooms and Island County officials.

The hearing is expected to take place in late July or early August, Banks said.

Harris-Moore’s mother, Pam Kohler, said she plans to attend the Island County hearing. Harris-Moore faces up to 10 years behind bars for the state charges.