The TV production trucks have reserved parking outside the courthouse, the live pool camera will be set up in the courtroom, the Island County Sheriff’s Office is ready to seal off a four-by-two block perimeter around the government buildings… After six months of delays while attorneys negotiated a complex plea deal, Colton Harris-Moore will finally have his day in a Washington State superior court.
On Friday, December 16, Colt will face three prosecutors, 32 felony charges, and some of the local victims from his headline-grabbing, nearly 27-month run as a fugitive. He’ll also be square in the sights of many cameras inside the courtroom—and Colt has a severe dislike of what he calls the “paparazzi.”
Unlike his federal plea hearing, this will be an all-in-one event. The prosecutors from Island, San Juan and Snohomish Counties will present the plea deal to the judge, and Colt is expected to accept its parameters. Randy Gaylord, prosecutor from up here in San Juan County, will have the highest number of counts against Colt, but the most serious single charge comes out of Snohomish, where authorities say Colt stole a .22 Jennings pistol from a house in Granite Falls. Colt carried it here to Orcas Island, where it was found at an airplane hangar he’d been hiding in.
During his time on the run, some of Colt’s friends – and then some of the fans he attracted – pleaded with him not to mess around with guns because that would make it much more likely he or someone else would wind up dead. Secondary to the danger was the knowledge of how strict the courts are when it comes to gunplay. On a spree that included five planes, nearly a dozen boats, and at least eight cars and trucks, it’s that one cheap handgun that will now keep Colt in prison the longest. (Colt also carried guns across the Canadian border, and had one in his hand when he was caught in the Bahamas.)
Colt has been in contact, via email and phone, with a number of friends and acquaintances. He consistently expresses remorse for the pain he caused his victims. He’s been actively involved in his defense, and will presumably express that remorse in court. The plea deal is set, but that doesn’t mean Colt knows his sentence yet. The judge still has a lot of discretion.
Continued in Sentencing Part 2