Calif. couple pleads guilty to kidnap and rape of girl

Victim, 11 at time, was held captive almost 2 decades

By Don Thompson
Associated Press / April 29, 2011

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PLACERVILLE, Calif. — A convicted sex offender and his wife pleaded guilty yesterday to kidnapping and raping a Northern California girl when she was 11 and holding her captive for nearly two decades.

The pleas came as part of a surprise deal with prosecutors that will spare victim Jaycee Dugard and her two daughters, born after she was raped by defendant Phillip Garrido, from having to testify at a trial.

“I’m relieved that Phillip and Nancy Garrido have finally acknowledged their guilt and confessed to their crimes against me and my family,’’ Dugard said in a statement released by her spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer.

The family had been kept in a hidden compound of backyard tents and sheds, never attending school or receiving medical attention.

Phillip Garrido, 60, faces a maximum sentence of 431 years in prison after entering guilty pleas to 14 kidnapping and sexual assault charges.

His wife, Nancy Garrido, 55, who originally faced the same charges as her husband, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of rape.

She faces a maximum sentence of 36 years to life. She is technically eligible for parole, but El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said it was “extraordinarily unlikely’’ she would ever be released from prison.

Pierson said the plea deal was only possible because Dugard, now 30, was willing to testify about her experiences in captivity.

He said he spoke with her on Wednesday night, and she remained willing to take the witness stand but was reluctant to put her children, now 13 and 16, through the ordeal.

Both defendants waived their right to appeal and were scheduled to be sentenced on June 2.

The guilty pleas came at a hastily arranged court hearing after both defendants pleaded not guilty earlier this month.

Attorney Stephen Tapson, who represents Nancy Garrido, said outside court yesterday that both defendants agreed to change their pleas Wednesday.

The move came after prosecutors said they would drop some charges against Nancy Garrido if Phillip Garrido pleaded guilty to almost the full indictment, Tapson said.

Dugard was snatched from her family’s South Lake Tahoe street in June 1991 while walking to a school bus stop. The case attracted international attention after Dugard surfaced in August 2009.

They were discovered in August 2009 when authorities said that Phillip Garrido took them to a meeting with his parole officer. top stories on Twitter

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