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Another court delay in Garrido case

The delay dashes speculation of possible guilty pleas from Phillip and Nancy Garrido, accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing Jaycee Lee Dugard and holding her captive for 18 years.

March 18, 2011|By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
  • Phillip Garrido, who faces multiple charges in the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, is seen during an arraignment hearing at the El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville, Calif. Garrido's attorney, Susan Gellman, left, asked for an extension in entering a plea as negotiations with prosecutors continue.
Phillip Garrido, who faces multiple charges in the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee… (Associated Press )

Another court delay Thursday dashed speculation of possible guilty pleas from Phillip and Nancy Garrido, the couple accused of kidnapping and sexually tormenting Jaycee Lee Dugard and holding her captive for 18 years in their backyard compound in Northern California.

After a hearing in El Dorado County Superior Court, Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson criticized comments made by Nancy Garrido's defense attorney a few weeks ago, when he called for compassion for his client because Garrido was "like her mother" when Jaycee's children, fathered by Phillip Garrido, were born.

"Perhaps my alleged lack of compassion comes from my awareness of many disgusting facts concerning Nancy Garrido's personal involvement in this case," Pierson said in a statement, emphasizing that Dugard has a real mother.

Pierson said Nancy Garrido not only assisted her husband when he snatched Dugard off a South Tahoe street 18 years ago but also helped imprison the girl and videotaped other young children to "provide her rapist husband with sexually perverse entertainment."

The Garridos face nearly 30 counts of kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment. The couple confessed to the crimes last month because Phillip Garrido, 59, hopes to negotiate a reduced sentence for his wife, according to Stephen Tapson, Nancy Garrido's attorney.

Tapson said the last offer from the El Dorado County district attorney still had Nancy Garrido serving a prison sentence of 180 years to life. He said Phillip Garrido would face a sentence of more than 500 years under an offer from the prosecutor.

"So my client can plead guilty and get 180 years to life, or go to trial and maybe get 500 years. So what's the difference?" he said during a telephone interview after the hearing.

Tapson said that during the crimes his client was at times "under the influence" of her husband, and that she had been an upstanding citizen until she married Garrido and subsequently fell victim to rampant drug abuse. The Garridos married in 1981 at the U.S. penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., where Phillip was serving a 50-year sentence for a 1976 kidnapping and rape.

The discovery of Dugard, who gave birth to two daughters after being repeatedly raped, made international headlines two years ago. Dugard, now 30, was abducted by the Garridos when she was 11. The couple took her to Antioch, Calif., and kept her imprisoned in tents and soundproof shacks for 18 years.

The prosecutor dismissed the idea that Nancy Garrido was an unwilling participant, saying that "she alone" helped keep Dugard prisoner for 42 days in 1993 when her husband was in federal custody on a parole violation.

The Garridos' next hearing is scheduled for April 7.

phil.willon@latimes.com

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