Accused kidnapper and rapist Phillip Garrido is expected to plead guilty to snatching an 11-year-old schoolgirl from her South Lake Tahoe area street, holding her captive for nearly two decades and fathering her two daughters, according to an attorney involved in the case.
Garrido and his wife, Nancy, face 29 charges of kidnapping and sexual assault in the 1991 abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard, now 30. Nancy Garrido has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and her husband is to be arraigned Thursday in Placerville, Calif.
That's when he is expected to plead guilty, said Stephen Tapson, Nancy Garrido's defense attorney.
"He's confessed to it, so he's pleading guilty and he doesn't want to put Jaycee through the trial," Tapson said in an interview Monday. In addition, Tapson said, Garrido is hoping to gain a measure of mercy for his wife.
Susan Gellman, Phillip Garrido's attorney, did not return calls for comment. El Dorado County Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson declined to comment on the case, which has attracted international attention since Dugard and her daughters surfaced in the East Bay town of Antioch nearly two years ago. They had been held captive in a warren of backyard sheds.
Although El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister is not expected to sentence Garrido on Thursday if he pleads guilty, the 60-year-old convicted rapist faces hundreds of years in jail, Tapson said.
"It was 530 years to life, the last I counted," Tapson said. "But in essence he's going away for a half century, anyway."
Nancy Garrido, however, plans to go to trial. The trial date is to be set Thursday. Tapson said that Phillip Garrido will testify on his wife's behalf and that the trial is expected to last several weeks.
"They want her to plead to 183 or 184 to life, and since I believe she has something to talk about, I don't want her to do that," Tapson said of his client. "The D.A. is arguing that she is as guilty as he is because she was there and she was an aider and abettor."
But Tapson said Nancy Garrido has confessed only to snatching Dugard as the girl walked to the school bus stop. Her husband, Tapson says, committed the sexual crimes against Dugard, some of which he videotaped.
Phillip "took her as a young girl," Tapson said, referring to his wife. "They got married when he was in prison. He led her down the path to sin and degradation. She had no part in the sex stuff."
But in a March statement in response to Tapson's earlier claims about Nancy's limited participation in the crimes against Dugard, Pierson said she deserved no compassion because of the "many disgusting facts" concerning her "personal involvement in this case."
"Not only was Nancy Garrido directly involved in the kidnapping of Jaycee back in 1991, but she actively participated in videotaping young children before and after the 1991 abduction," Pierson said in the statement. "So, having viewed all of the evidence and videos in this case, I will answer Mr. Tapson's question: No, I do not think that Nancy Garrido deserves my compassion."