Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called Barefoot Bandit, distanced himself from the roguish figure many painted him as in his first public comments since a two-year crime spree landed him on front pages around the world.
Harris-Moore, 20, told a federal judge during his sentencing today that he’s lucky to be alive. It had a modest effect on District Judge Richard A. Jones, who sentenced him to another 6 1/2 years in prison, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said.
"I'd like to first say that what I did could be called daring, but it is no stretch of the imagination to say that I'm lucky to be alive," Harris-Moore told a federal courtroom in Seattle. "I should have died years ago."
Today’s sentence runs concurrently with the 7 1/2 years he received in a Washington state courtroom last year. Harris-Moore earned the nickname Barefoot Bandit because he committed many of his crimes without shoes.
Harris-Moore hijacked boats and airplanes as his evaded police in Washington State, Idaho, Oregon, Indiana, the San Juan Islands and British Columbia, Canada.
Bahamian police captured him when he crashed an airplane on the Atlantic Ocean island.
He apologized to his victims while addressing the judge.
"I now know a crime that took place overnight will take years to recover from," Harris-Moore said, the PI reported.
"I would say to younger people they should focus on their education, which is what I am doing right now," he said. "I want to start a company. I want to make a difference in this world, legally."
His defense attorney reminded the court of Harris-Moore’s difficult childhood. He was born to an alcoholic, abusive mother, and learned to steal to survive at a very early age.
"You're about to hear now from a young person whose first memory is being told that everybody's better off if he'd have been born dead," John Henry Brown said, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The judge showed some sympathy, but still handed Harris-Moore the 6 1/2 years the prosecution requested. He questioned Harris-Moore’s attitude after his capture, and comments made in emails, and encouraged him to seek counselling in jail.
Harris-Moore sent missives that called prosecutors “fools,” police “swine” and journalists “vermin.” He compared his “amazing” feats to the Wright brothers, the Associated Press said.
“The record is clear that you had an incredibly difficult childhood," Jones said. "No one can change that, or give those years back to you. Your lawyers and evaluators say that your past is what made you do wrong. That may very well be true, but the reality is that you committed some very serious crimes that deserve punishment.”
Harris-Moore faces a restitution hearing next month.
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