updated 12/16/2011 AT 7:55 PM ET
•originally published 12/16/2011 AT 8:00 PM ET
The “Barefoot Bandit” was sentenced Friday in Washington state court to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to more than 30 felonies involving a one-man crime spree in which he stole boats, planes and cars.
Colton Harris-Moore, 20, escaped a juvenile home in 2008 and avoided capture for more than two years before his arrest last year in the Bahamas.
Because the prison time will run concurrently with his anticipated sentence on federal charges, Friday’s daylong hearing was chiefly an opportunity for authorities to consolidate a long list of charges in three counties. It was also a chance for Harris to try to explain his infamous antics.
In a statement to the judge, Harris-Moore said his childhood was one he wouldn’t wish on his “darkest enemies.”
He said the thrill of flying stolen planes renewed his passion for life and will help him rehabilitate in prison.
“The euphoria of the countdown to takeoff and the realization of a dream was nearly blinding,” he wrote of his first flight three years ago. “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 time behind bars to prepare for college, with hopes he’ll someday earn an aeronautical engineering degree.
Judge Vickie Churchill characterized the case as “a tragedy in many ways, but it’s a triumph of the human spirit in other ways.” She said she believed he was genuinely remorseful and contrite.