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Colton Harris-Moore, the "barefoot bandit" who evaded capture in stolen planes, boats and cars during a 2-year crime spree, pleaded guilty Friday to more than 33 counts of burglary, theft and other charges.
Colton Harris-Moore, the "barefoot bandit" who evaded capture in stolen planes, boats and cars during a 2-year crime spree, pleaded guilty Friday to more than 33 counts of burglary, theft and other charges that could keep him in prison for the next decade.
Harris-Moore's escapades, which according to The Associated Press "earned him international fame and a movie deal," ended in July 2010 when he crash landed a stolen plane that he'd flown from Indiana to the Bahamas.
He was arrested by Bahamian authorities "in a hail of bullets," but not before the high school dropout and self-taught pilot had broken into dozens of homes across nine states and British Columbia and stolen computers, credit cards and Social Security numbers, which he then used them to order merchandise to be delivered. He also stolen cars, boats and planes.
Harris-Moore, 20, appearing at a hearing in Coupeville, Wash., wearing handcuffs and an orange jail uniform, softly answered "yes" Friday when the judge asked if he understood his rights, the AP reported.
He pleaded guilty to a total of 16 counts from Island County, including identity theft, theft of firearm and residential burglary, then to 17 counts from San Juan County.
According to the LA Times, prosecutors rejected defense claims that Harris-Moore was "a psychologically crippled young man victimized by a tumultuous childhood."
Harris-Moore's attorneys John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlan asked the court to consider their client's bleak childhood "in a Camano Island trailer with an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends," the AP reported.
Harris-Moore's first conviction came at age 12, in 2004, for possession of stolen property and, according to the reports, his first experience with burglary came when he broke into the homes of his classmates to steal food because his mother spent most of her Social Security income on beer and cigarettes — something she has denied.
Over the next three years he was convicted of theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes. At one point he was arrested when a detective posed as a pizza-delivery driver.
Browne had told the court that his client's first memory was his mother telling him "we would all be better off if you had been born dead," Reuters reported.
Another defense attorney said that he suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
However, prosecutors painted Harris-Moore as "an ingenious criminal mastermind who taught himself to fly stolen planes and artfully set up his burglary victims to become repeat targets of future crimes."
"He was a menace," Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks told the court, according to NBC News. "His burglaries threatened and distressed people. People were afraid to leave their houses."
"Not only did he keep homeowners under surveillance to determine how and when to break in, but we believe he kept the police under surveillance as well, which helped him evade capture for so long," Banks added.