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The youthful thief who rocketed to international notoriety as the "Barefoot Bandit" while he evaded police in pilfered cars, boats and planes during a two-year crime spree was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in a Washington state prison after pleading guilty to dozens of charges.
Colton Harris-Moore, now 20, showed no reaction as the sentence was delivered by a judge who took pity on his bleak upbringing at the hands of an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends — a situation she described as a "mind-numbing absence of hope."
"This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways," Island County Judge Vickie Churchill said. "I could have been reading about the history of a mass murderer. I could have been reading about a drug abusive, alcoholic young man. That is the triumph of Colton Harris-Moore: He has survived."
Among the courtroom spectators Friday were 18-year-olds Annie Cain and Hayley Hanna, who drove from nearby Langley to be at the courthouse at 5:30 a.m. — four hours before the hearing.
"We wanted to be here just because he's so young, and everything he did, it's fascinating," Cain said.
Fox bought the movie rights in a deal that could be worth $1.3 million, and Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the movie "Milk," about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk, is working on the screenplay.
Harris-Moore doesn't get to keep any of the money under the terms of his federal plea deal.