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Defense Options Limited For Colton Harris-Moore

Publication Date: 
August 01, 2010
Jackson Holtz

Professor Robert Weisberg is quoted on possible defense options for Colton Harris-Moore, nicknamed the "Barefoot Bandit," if his case goes to trial. Jackson Holtz of HeraldNet filed this story:

There's little doubt among legal experts that Colton Harris-Moore's best bet to avoid a lengthy prison term is to mount a defense that highlights his troubled upbringing and plays down the bravado of his two years on the run.

That's already started.

His defense attorney, John Henry Browne, said on national television that the "Barefoot Bandit" isn't interested in making money from his story. Harris-Moore didn't have fun on the run, his lawyer said. He was lonely and scared.


"Very little of this will have to do with contesting the charges in conventional legal terms," said Robert Weisberg. He's a criminal law expert who teaches at Stanford Law School near Palo Alto, Calif.

A strong defense likely will present many mitigating factors, including Harris-Moore's reportedly tumultuous upbringing, Weisberg said.

Attorneys may play up Harris-Moore's narrative of a wild child who stole food from neighbors because he was hungry. They may argue that he was never given a chance at success, Weisberg said.

The arguments probably will not win acquittal, but could mean fewer years in prison, he said.


Mitigating factors also could lead to jury nullification, Weisberg said. That's where a jury dismisses criminal charges despite overwhelming evidence to convict.