MOUNT VERNON — The “Barefoot Bandit” pleaded not guilty to one of his new Skagit County charges in court Thursday morning, while refusing to enter a plea on the second charge, contending that he was already convicted of the crime.

Colton Harris-Moore was arraigned in Skagit County Superior Court, where his attorney, John Henry Browne, leveled a litany of misconduct accusations against Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich.

Harris-Moore was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison about a year ago for 40 felonies stemming from a two-year crime spree that included the theft of boats and airplanes throughout the North Sound and other states, including an airplane theft in Anacortes.

Weyrich dropped out of plea negotiations in 2011 between Browne and several other prosecutors because he felt Harris-Moore’s punishment would not be severe enough, he said in previous statements.

Weyrich refiled first-degree burglary and first-degree theft charges Feb. 8 so that Harris-Moore could be prosecuted for his accused Skagit County crimes. The charges come with special allegations of a “major economic offense.”

However, Browne said the theft charge was already dealt with out of San Juan County as part of the original plea deal because Harris-Moore flew the airplane from Anacortes to Orcas Island. Therefore, Harris-Moore declined to plea to that charge.

Browne also said during Thursday’s arraignment that the burglary charge is unfounded, adding that the hangar that held the airplane was not damaged.

Browne went on to accuse Weyrich of professional misconduct due to a statement Weyrich issued to the press Wednesday afternoon. Browne said  Weyrich made “extrajudicial” comments about Harris-Moore’s guilt and character and exaggerated the nature of the charges against him. Browne called the statement “absurd.”

He asked for a gag order on Weyrich and his office to prohibit him from making such comments to the press.

Senior Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Erik Pedersen, who is prosecuting the case, said such an order should apply to both parties and accused Browne of making derogatory comments to the press about Weyrich.

Weyrich was at the hearing, but is not handling the care directly and did not speak during court proceedings.

Judge Susan Cook said that any such motion in the case should be scheduled according to court rules and addressed at a later date.

She also denied Browne’s request to release Harris-Moore from Skagit County Jail custody to the state Department of Corrections.

Harris-Moore is being held on $100,000 bail.

His next scheduled court date is March 21.

Related Story: http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/barefoot-bandit-hearing-to-move-forward-despite-duplicate-charge/article_f750293c-cf4c-523f-8e24-a05d095a5e89.html">'Barefoot Bandit' charge in Skagit County to move forward despite duplicate charge

 

Reporter Lynsi Burton: 360-416-2149, lburton@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Lynsi_SVH, facebook.com/byLynsiBurton.

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