Garrido sentencing brings closure to Dugards, South Shore

Adam Jensen
Terry Probyn, the mother of kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard, center, is comforted by her sister, Tina Dugard, left, as she reads a statement to her daughter's kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, during their sentencing hearing at the El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville, Calif., Thursday, June 2, 2011. Calling him the "poster child" of a sexual predator, Judge Douglas C. Phimister sentenced Phillip Garrido to 431 years to life and Nancy Garrido to 36 years to life in state prison for the 1991 kidnapping of Dugard. (AP Photo/Randy Pench, Pool)
AP | Pool The Sacramento Bee

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Almost 20 years of pain came to a close Thursday.

For Jaycee Lee Dugard and her family, the sentencing of Phillip and Nancy Garrido to lengthy prison terms is the end to almost two decades of uncertainty and suffering.

For South Shore residents who were part of the community stunned and horrified by the seemingly random abduction of an 11-year-old girl, the sentencing represents the close of a dark chapter in the area’s history.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister sentenced Phillip Garrido to 431 years to life in prison during a Thursday hearing in Placerville. Phimister sentenced Garrido’s wife, Nancy Garrido to 36 years to life in prison at the hearing.

In April, Phillip Garrido pleaded guilty to kidnapping and 13 sexual assault charges for the June 10, 1991 kidnapping and subsequent confinement of Dugard. Nancy Garrido pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape for her role in Dugard’s kidnap and captivity, during which Phillip Garrido fathered two children by Dugard.

In victim impact statements read by Terry Probyn, Dugard’s mother, Thursday, both Dugard and Probyn said the prison sentences were the end of a nearly 20-year nightmare.

“Thankfully I am doing well now and no longer live in a nightmare,” Dugard said in her statement, according to a transcript from the San Jose Mercury News. “I have wonderful friends and family around me. Something you can never take from me again. You do not matter any more.”

“My nightmare has finally ended, thank God,” Probyn said. “But my battle against abduction has just begun, and I plan to win just as I’ve done here today.”

For some South Shore residents, the sentencing also brings a sense of closure to a traumatic event that stayed on the minds of residents long after Dugard’s disappearance

“I think my reaction is that I’m so glad it’s over for Jaycee and her family and (that) they didn’t have to appear,” said Meyers resident Sue Novasel, whose niece was in the same class as Dugard.

“It was just something awful hanging over our head for so many years,” Novasel said.

“My reaction was ‘thank God it’s over, thank God Jaycee didn’t have to go to court,'” said Virginia Glenn, who was the principal at Bijou Community School when Dugard was kidnapped.

“It just felt good to know that it was finished.”

South Shore Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Chris Campion also expressed relief that the Dugard’s were spared the added pain of a jury trial.

Thursday’s sentencing was a weight off the shoulders of every investigator involved with the case, Campion said Friday.

The FBI agent said the search for Dugard never went cold, noting he was investigating a new lead in Reno when Dugard was found on Aug. 26, 2009.

Campion was struck by how well Probyn summed up 18 years of suffering in her Thursday statement.

She said she hated the Garridos and recounted how her daughter’s disappearance weighed on her daily.

“I could hear her crying, not with my ears but with my heart. I could feel her pain, not with my body but again with my heart. Completely unbearable and debilitating,” Probyn said. “For eighteen excruciating years, I endured a huge gaping hole in my heart that some evil being had put their hand into and had ripped out. For eighteen agonizing years, I guarded what little I had left and lived in hell on this earth.”

Campion, who has remained close to the Dugards since Jaycee Lee’s abduction, said the family hopes to make a public visit to the South Shore, but it’s too soon to say when.

Right now, investigators are just taking in a “very satisfying” conclusion to the emotionally draining case.

“It’s definitely a good day, no doubt about that,” Campion said.

Novasel said she hoped the sentencing would allow the Dugard family to move on with a new life. She also said many South Shore residents hope to do the same.

“Everyone just wants to put it behind them,” Novasel said.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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