Defense blames Barefoot Bandit's childhood for crime spree
- From: Beaver Fever <Beaver_Fever@xxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 12:42:23 -0800 (PST)
COUPEVILLE, Wash. -- The defense team of "The Barefoot Bandit" paints
a detailed and at times hard-to-read picture of a horrible childhood,
a grotesque drama involving an alcoholic mother, violent and abusive
father and a heroin-addicted step-father.
"Dysfunctional" barely begins to describe this wobbling, changing,
explosive family. In fact, say his attorneys, that remarkable, almost
mythic series of thefts, burglaries and vandalism can be attributed in
part to the conditions of his early life, "...the abuse, humiliation
and neglect he endured throughout his childhood."
You can read a broad outline of that abuse and the living conditions
under which he was raised in the opening statements of the defense
team's "Mitigation Package" presented in advance of his sentencing on
Friday. And remember, this is Colton Harris-Moore's life as described
by the team of lawyers, headed by Seattle Attorney John Henry Browne,
whose goal it is to make the multiple-crime "Bandit" seem as
vulnerable and guiltless as possible.
His mother, Pamela Kohler' is clearly the bad-girl of the defense's
narrative to the judge. Stories of her smoking, drinking and fits of
anger are told and retold. A brother tells investigators Kohler
continued to drink when she knew she was pregnant and once said, "I'm
not going to quit drinking because of some 12-year-old."
This was at a time when her son was showing up for school about half
the days he was supposed to and had started stealing and committing
acts of vandalism. Harris-Moore himself is quoted during a clinical
assessment when he was 12, that he wanted his mom to quit smoking and
drinking, get a job and keep food in the house, and "... Mom
The psychiatrist hired by the defense to test and investigate what
makes Harris-Moore tick concludes that he may have suffered some form
of brain damage at an early age which was never properly assessed or
treated. He also says Harris-Moore isn't likely to reoffend and his
prognosis is good as long as he gets proper attention and treatment.
He says a lot more than that too, detailing a horrible life in a
horrible environment among horrible, self-absorbed, alcohol and drug-
addicted people, people who normally would have been expected to offer
a son and step-so support and love and a family structure. It's not
pretty. In fact it's plenty ugly. Just one side of the story, to be
"I think it's a crock," Kohler told our news partner, 97.3 KIRO FM. "I
love Colt. I have a home for him in Arizona, and I'm going to destroy
John Henry Browne when this is all over."
"Colton destroyed so many lives that he doesn't even know," says
Marion Rathbone, who ran the Bayside Restaurant and Lounge on Orcas
Island. Colton broke in not once, but twice. Rathbone says he stole
cash, credit cards, and forced her business to eventually take on debt
it could not repay. She filed for bankruptcy and closed the business
as a result.
"He took it all away," says Rathbone, who adds that the promised
restitution from a movie deal won't make amends. "He can't fix it. He
can't put that whole community back together. He tore it apart."
Harris-Moore will be in Coupeville to enter guilty pleas and to accept
sentencing. He has already plead guilty to seven federal felony
charges and will be sentenced for those crimes next month. Any
sentences from the Washington State charges and the Federal charges
are expected to be served concurrently.
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