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Garrido couple pleads guilty in Jaycee Dugard kidnapping

April 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Phillip and Nancy Garrido, the husband and wife accused in the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, pleaded guilty Thursday.

Nancy Garrido, 55, tried to fight back tears as she admitted to kidnapping and aiding and abetting in the rape of Jaycee Dugard. At one point, a bailiff handed her tissue so she could wipe away tears while in handcuffs.

She faces 36 years to life in prison, with a remote chance she could be paroled after 31 years.

"From the get-go she said, 'Just do the best you can, Mr. Tapson, because I don't want to put Jaycee and the kids through an actual trial,'" said Stephen Tapson, Nancy's attorney.

Nancy's husband, 60-year-old-Phillip Garrido, faces 431 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to 14 counts of kidnapping, rape and lewd acts with a child. The previously convicted sex offender won't ever get out of prison.

In a statement, Dugard, now 30 years old, said: "I'm relieved that Phillip and Nancy Garrido have finally acknowledged their guilt and confessed to their crimes against me and my family."

Dugard was only 11 years old in June 1991 when the Garridos snatched her off the street of her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood and kept her prisoner in their backyard in Antioch for nearly two decades, before she was rescued in 2009.

Phillip fathered her two daughters during her captivity.

Dugard was expected to testify at the trial that supposed to start this August.

"Jaycee's courage and willingness to confront her abductors directly led to the defendants' plea and life sentences," said El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson.

Prosecutors also noted Dugard may not have been the only one forced to re-live the ordeal in court had the trial gone ahead. The defense might have also subpoenaed her daughters.

"As a mother, the practical reality, should her children be called and drug into all of this, was something that I don't think any mother in her right mind would want to see happen," said Pierson.

The couple had pleaded not guilty earlier this month.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 2. It's usually a time when victims can make impact statements. But it's unclear whether Dugard will be there to make one.