Coupeville braces for when 'Barefoot Bandit' comes to town



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Posted on September 27, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 27 at 6:21 PM

COUPEVILLE, Wash. -- Island County is bracing for the most notorious criminal it has ever prosecuted -- the teenage "Barefoot Bandit" suspect, Colton Harris-Moore.

Coupeville, a scenic and peaceful island town, is world-famous for its mussels. But soon the teen who prosecutors say went on a whirlwind theft spree, accused of stealing everything from airplanes to boats, will put Coupeville in the international spotlight.

In about two weeks, on October 14, Colton Harris-Moore is scheduled to appear at the Island County Courthouse to plead guilty to state charges stemming from that county as well as Snohomish, Skagit and San Juan counties. Harris-Moore has already pleaded guilty to seven federal felonies.

He will also spend time in the Island County Jail. With its new control room and surveillance system, the jail is ready for it's fifty-ninth inmate.

"We're not going to make a circus of it," said Chief Deputy "De" Dennis, administrator of the Island County Jail.

Harris-Moore will be booked and suited up in orange jail garb, just like any other prisoner. His crimes qualified him for the minimum security section, which means sleeping in the cell with several other prisoners. Any of them could end up playing cards or checkers with the Barefoot Bandit.

"I don't think he'll be a problem here as far as a risk of escape," said Dennis. "I do think some of the inmates will want to toy with him, because of his notoriety."

The jail is prepared to house Harris-Moore for two weeks, which is the standard time from arraignment to sentencing. But if the Island County Prosecutor has his way, it will take just one day.

"Because we expect it to be a guilty plea to a number of charges and sentencing, there is no reason not to [do it]," said prosecutor Greg Banks.

With requests from network news crews and media from as far away as France, Banks knows the courtroom, with just three small aisles, won't be enough to accommodate everyone interested in the case.

"It's not big," he laughed.

Victims who want to be present will have special seating in the courtroom as well.

"I think some people want restorative justice," said Banks. "They want to bring it home to Colton, what it meant to them.".

"I think it's negative attention for our beautiful county space," said Coupeville store owner Cindy Olson.

Prosecutors from all four counties are expected to participate in the proceedings. Harris-Moore will be sentenced for his federal crimes on October 28.