MIAMI (AP) — The teenager dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” by authorities will cool his heels in a Miami jail while he sorts out which attorney will represent him.
At his first U.S. court appearance Wednesday, July 14 since his arrest in the Bahamas, Colton Harris-Moore, 19, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube he thought his mother had hired a lawyer, but he didn’t know the attorney’s name.
“I’d like to speak with my mom first,” said Harris-Moore, dressed in a standard tan prison jumpsuit, sandals and white socks. He added that he last spoke to his mother, Pam Kohler, “about a week ago.”
“She said that she hired one,” he said. “I have not met with him yet.”
Dube set another hearing for Friday morning, July 16 to determine Harris-Moore’s legal representation, whether he should be released on bail, and when he should return to Seattle to face an alleged two-year string of crimes.
Harris-Moore is suspected in about 70 burglaries, thefts and other property crimes in eight states and British Columbia, including thefts of aircraft – one of which he allegedly flew from Indiana to the Bahamas.
Kohler has asked Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne to represent her son in the criminal case, which currently involves the alleged theft of a plane in Idaho that was crashed in Washington state. Browne has said he will handle it if Harris-Moore agrees. Another attorney, O. Yale Lewis, is helping Kohler with media and entertainment requests.
Kohler seemed relieved earlier this week after learning of her son’s capture.
“I’m really tired,” Kohler said from her home on Camano Island, Washington. “Yes, I look forward to seeing him.”
Asked what she planned to say to her son when she saw him, she said angrily, “What kind of question is that?” and hung up the phone.
His arrest came as a relief to people across rural Camano Island, where authorities say he learned to dodge police.
“There’s a lot of relief throughout the community,” said real estate agent Mark Williams. “I think the man’s luck just wore out. You run through the woods long enough, you’re going to trip over a log.”
Residents of the island also lashed out at the teen’s mother this week, saying her decision to hire a well-known Seattle lawyer suggests she’s trying to profit from a crime spree that police say took her son from the cedar trees in Washington to the bright beaches of the Bahamas.
“Of course she wants the money. She doesn’t work,” said Joshua Flickner, whose family owns an island grocery store. “What makes me more angry than the fact that she’s trying to profit off this is that there’s any profit to be had.”
The mother’s attorney downplayed any profit motive, saying Kohler contacted him for advice after being inundated by requests from news reporters as well as inquiries about book and movie deals.
“Her feelings are relief and exhaustion” Lewis said. “Obviously, there is enormous interest in this story, and she wants to be careful about how to proceed. But her first concern has been to make sure her son is safe.
“And I think she hasn’t given much thought beyond that,” he said.
Harris-Moore was deported by the Bahamas to the U.S. on Tuesday, July 13, shortly after pleading guilty to illegally entering the island nation east of Miami. Harris-Moore’s long odyssey on the lam ended Sunday, July 11 after police ended a high-speed boat chase by shooting out the vessel’s engine.
Harris-Moore’s attorney in the Bahamas, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy there would pay the teenager’s $300 fine.
Authorities say he earned the “Barefoot Bandit” nickname by committing some crimes while shoeless, and in February he allegedly drew chalk-outline feet all over the floor of a grocery store during a burglary in Washington’s San Juan Islands.
Harris-Moore told police in the Bahamas that he came there because it has numerous islands, airports and docks. The teenager claimed that he told islanders he was trying to get to Cuba so he could throw police off his trail, but he intended to make his way to the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas, police said.
The suspect learned from the Internet that the British territory has a small police force and no marine defense force, according to the officer.
Harris-Moore spent Monday, July 12 being questioned by investigators. Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade described him as eloquent, calm, cooperative and “obviously a very intelligent young man,” but declined to say whether he made any confession.
Kohler’s older sister, Sandra Puttmann, of Arlington, was the first relative to hear from Harris-Moore after his arrest Sunday. She said he was “holding up” but scared now that he’s in custody for the first time since he walked away from a halfway house south of Seattle.
Puttmann angrily criticized news stories about her nephew, saying reporters typically gloss over his difficult upbringing. She said police routinely accused him of stealing even when he hadn’t, and school officials didn’t give him a chance – something police and school officials have adamantly denied.
Harris-Moore told a psychologist in 2008 that his mother was abusive when she’d been drinking, according to a court document cited Monday, July 12 by The Herald newspaper of Everett. His father left when he was a toddler, and his stepfather died when he was 7, Kohler has said.
He is accused crimes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, said Tuesday, July 13 that the U.S. Marshals Service would eventually fly Harris-Moore to Seattle, where he faces a federal complaint of interstate transportation of stolen property alleging that he took a plane from Idaho and crashed it in Washington.
“Exactly when he would arrive here is a moving target as far as I know,” she said.
David Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Seattle, said he did not expect Harris-Moore to return to Seattle sooner than two to three weeks, even if he waives an identity hearing.
Associated Press writer Gene Johnson contributed from Seattle.
FILE PHOTO. “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore