Plea deal talks continuing in Dugard kidnapping
PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) – A Northern California couple accused of holding Jaycee Dugard captive in their backyard for more than 18 years are due back in court amid ongoing negotiations on a possible plea deal.
Lawyer Stephen Tapson, who represents defendant Nancy Garrido, told The Associated Press that his client won’t be changing her plea to guilty in time for Thursday’s hearing because the last offer from the El Dorado County district attorney still had her serving a prison sentence of 180 years to life in exchange.
“Obviously if we got to trial and she loses, she goes to 500 and something years, so what’s the difference,” Tapson said, adding that he was pushing for a prison term of 30 to 40 years.
Garrido and her husband, Phillip, stand accused of kidnapping Dugard, now 30, when she was an 11-year-old girl and holding her captive in the backyard of their Antioch home. Each has been charged with 18 felony counts that include false imprisonment, rape and child pornography.
Nancy Garrido has pleaded not guilty. Criminal proceedings were suspended against Phillip Garrido for several months while he was evaluated as competent to stand trial. He is scheduled to enter his plea on Thursday.
Speculation that the case against them would be settled soon without a trial began circulating two-and-a-half weeks ago after Tapson told reporters that plea negotiations had opened with the couple giving full confessions to El Dorado detectives.
At that time, Tapson said the El Dorado County district attorney was talking about more than 241 years to life for Nancy Garrido and 440 years to life for Phillip Garrido, a convicted rapist who was on parole when Dugard was snatched from a school bus stop in 1991.
Tapson said prosecutors had hoped the couple would provide during their February interviews information about or confessions in a number of unsolved child kidnappings and murders of prostitutes in Northern California.
Since they did not, there has been little movement in the plea discussions, he said. The 180-year offer for his client, who has admitted pulling the young Dugard into a car driven by her husband but denied participating in any sex crimes, came last Friday, Tapson said.
He said prosecutors now were talking about a prison term in the neighborhood of 500 years for Phillip Garrido.
“The DA wants to say, ‘I put the Garridos away for 5,000 years,'” Tapson said.
District Attorney Vern Pierson declined comment on the status of the case.
A plea bargain would allow Dugard and the two daughters she bore Phillip Garrido as a teenager to avoid having to testify before her alleged abductors. Dugard is scheduled to publish her memoirs in September, but has sought privacy since being freed a year-and-a-half ago.
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