COUPEVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Colton Harris-Moore, the "Barefoot Bandit," was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to dozens of state charges.
The 20-year-old man gained international notoriety while evading police across the country in stolen planes, boats and cars during a two-year crime spree.
Judge Vickie Churchill said "this case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways." She described Harris-Moore's upbringing as a "mind numbing absence of hope," and believed he was genuinely remorseful and contrite.
Friday's proceedings consolidated cases against Harris-Moore in three Washington counties. He has already pleaded guilty to federal charges in Seattle and will be sentenced for those crimes early next year. He will serve his state and federal sentences at the same time.
Wearing handcuffs and an orange jail uniform, Colton Harris-Moore spoke softly in court while entering his pleas and sat next to his attorneys with his eyes downcast, looking even younger than his 20 years.
In a statement provided to Judge Vickie Churchill, he said his childhood was one he wouldn't wish on his "darkest enemies."
Still, he said he takes responsibility for the crime spree that brought him international notoriety.
Harris-Moore said he studied manuals and online videos to teach himself to be a pilot, and the thrills he experienced while flying stolen planes renewed his passion for life and will help him rehabilitate while in prison.
"The euphoria of the countdown to takeoff and the realization of a dream was nearly blinding," he said of his first illicit flight on Nov. 11, 2008. "My first thought after takeoff was 'Oh my God, I'm flying.' I had waited my entire life for that moment."
He said he'll use his prison time to study and get ready to apply to college, with the hope of earning an aeronautical engineering degree.