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Phillip Garrido pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape

April 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A hitch in the grand jury process that indicted the Garridos last September prompted Phillip Garrido to make a surprise not guilty plea on Thursday in the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case.

Garrido and his wife Nancy are charged with abducting Dugard, who was 11 at the time, from outside her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991 and holding her captive for 18 years. Garrido is also charged with fathering her two children, who are now 13 and 16, by rape.

Phillip Garrido's attorney filed a last minute challenge to how the grand jury that indicted Garrido was selected.

"No matter what happens in this particular case, Mr. Garrido will be spending the rest of his life in prison. But that doesn't mean I roll over and play dead," said attorney Susan Gellman.

She said she has no evidence of a problem with the grand jury, but has concerns over its racial and geographic make-up. Gellman filed the motion as a matter of due diligence.

Now the court must consider the claim.

El Dorado District Attorney Vern Pierson said he isn't worried because such motions are routinely filed and denied.

"We want to get this case resolved the way that it needs to be resolved, which is these two need to be held accountable for their actions," he said.

Nancy Garrido's attorney Stephen Tapson set off a frenzy earlier this week when he announced Phillip would likely plead guilty to spare Dugard from the pain of going through a trial.

He hoped Phillip's guilty plea would also mean a lighter sentence for Nancy, perhaps 30 years instead of 180.

"If, indeed, Mr. Garrido had plead guilty today, I would be in a position to say, 'He's gone so come on, let's give Nancy Garrido, who is not as bad as he is, a better deal that what's been offered so far,'" said Tapson.

Gellman was upset that Nancy Garrido's attorney is assuming facts about the case that may not be true, and said a guilty plea was never agreed to, although it was discussed.

"Mr. Tapson should never had done that. That was wrong of him to do, and it was inaccurate," said Gellman.

Tapson said his client still thinks about Dugard to this day.

"She does not want Jaycee to go through all this stuff and has consistently said that," he said.

Nancy Garrido has pleaded not guilty and reportedly plans to go to trial unless she gets a better plea deal.

A trial date of Aug. 1 has been set for both defendants. Both previously confessed to the crime.

Dugard, now 30, has said through her spokesman that she would be willing to testify if the cases went to trial. She and her daughters remain in seclusion and recently received $20 million from the state of California for repeated mistakes by parole agents who were supposed to be keeping an eye on Phillip Garrido.