Reporting from Placerville, Calif. -- Twenty years after Jaycee Lee Dugard was abducted while walking to her school bus stop, the couple who kidnapped and raped her and stole her childhood were sentenced Thursday to prison terms that could keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Phillip Garrido, a 60-year-old serial predator, was sentenced to 431 years to life in prison. His 55-year-old wife, Nancy, was sentenced to 36 years to life and cannot be paroled until she is in her 70s.
As he imposed the lengthy prison term, Eldorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas C. Phimister said Garrido “lacks a soul” and called his actions “beyond horrible.” A tearful Terry Probyn, Dugard’s mother, described her daughter’s attacker as “the epitome of disgust … some evil being.”
And Dugard herself, in a defiant statement read by her mother during the emotional hearing, said the man who kidnapped her as a sex slave, raped her over a period of years, videotaped many of the attacks and fathered her two children “stole my life.”
“To you, Phillip, I say … I hated every second of every day of 18 years because of you,” said Dugard, who was 11 when she was abducted. “To you, Nancy, I have nothing to say. As I think of all those years, I am angry. You stole my life and that of my family.”
Dugard, now 31, did not attend the hearing, she said, “because I refuse to waste another second of my life in your presence.”
The Garridos abducted Dugard on June 10, 1991, as she was heading to school in her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood while her horrified stepfather leapt on a mountain bike in pursuit. The case made international headlines when Dugard resurfaced in August 2009 with her children — after a UC Berkeley policewoman spotted an odd-acting Garrido with the little girls on campus.
During Thursday’s hearing, Dugard’s former captors sat flanked by their attorneys in Department 7, which was packed with reporters, cameras, a few of Dugard’s family members and Katie Callaway Hall, whom Garrido was convicted of raping in 1976.
Dugard’s aunt, Tina, told Phimister during the sentencing that the abduction left the entire family “under a cloud of despair” and killed Tina’s mother, Dugard’s grandmother.
“My mom died less than a year after Jaycee was stolen from us,” she said. “My mother died of a broken heart. Facing life without her beloved Jaycee was more than my mom could handle. “
But the most heart-wrenching testimony came from Probyn. She and Carl Probyn, Dugard’s stepfather, divorced after the abduction. He has said that the crime and its aftermath “ended” their marriage.
Probyn talked about the joy she felt on May 3, 1980, when her daughter was born at 10:52 p.m. — blond hair, blue eyes, 6 lb. 4 oz., “a true miracle,” “a gift from God.” She told the court how, when Dugard’s belly hurt, she would rock her little girl in her arms and sing, “You Are My Sunshine.”
The day Dugard was taken, Probyn said, “my world went dark, and my sunshine was taken away.” Probyn described the months and years of not knowing her daughter’s fate as “hell on this earth.”
“I could hear her crying, but not with my ears, with my heart,” said a tearful Probyn. “I could feel her pain, not with my body, but with my heart. I endured a huge gaping hole in my heart, that some evil being put their hand in and ripped it out.”
Garrido was driving that June morning. He and Nancy had blankets in the car and a Taser. They were “shopping for a victim,” Phimister said Thursday. “What was the conversation in the car? ‘Should we select this one? That one? What are we looking for?’”
Once they settled on Dugard, Garrido stunned the little girl with the Taser, and Nancy snatched her. They put her in the car, covered her with blankets and headed to their home in Antioch, an East Bay suburb, where they had prepared an undetectable warren of tents and sheds in the backyard.
Dugard was locked in one of the backyard buildings for a year and a half as a “prisoner,” said Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson in court documents recommending that Garrido receive a sentence of 431 years to life. She did not leave the backyard for the first four years after the abduction.
Dugard “was impregnated by Phillip Garrido when she was 13 years old and had her first child at the age of 14,” Pierson said in the document. She “was again impregnated by Phillip Garrido when she was 16 and had her second child at the age of 17.”
The children were delivered by Nancy in the couple’s ramshackle compound; neither they nor Dugard setfoot in a schoolroom or saw a doctor until they were discovered in 2009.
Phimister said Garrido kept Dugard in line by threatening that “if she escaped, pain would be imposed. You would Taser her.” He “reinvented slavery” and turned the girl into “chattel,” morphed a human being into “a piece of furniture to use at your whim.”
According to grand jury testimony released Thursday, Garrido never tased Dugard again after the first attack but kept the weapon lying openly around as a threat.
“When I didn’t want to do something that he wanted me to do, he would turn it on and say, something like, you know, ‘You don’t want it to happen again. You should be good,’” Dugard testified before the grand jury on Sept. 10, 2010.
“I didn’t want it to happen again,” she told the grand jury. “So I was good.”
Dugard testified that Garrido told her “he had a sex problem and that, you know, he got me so he wouldn’t have to do this to anybody else. So I was helping him.”
Phimister fumed that Garrido gamed the system when he was released far short of the 50-year sentence he had received for kidnapping and raping Callaway Hall. And he was furious that more than a dozen healthcare professionals had examined the man through the years and failed to recognize that Garrido is “evil.”
Susan Gellman, Garrido’s attorney, read a brief statement from her client when it was her turn to address Phimister. Four sentences long and entirely in the third person, the statement from Garrido said he had pleaded guilty to all charges and “accepted responsibility for his actions.”
“He has done that with no expectation of leniency,” the statement continued, “and because he wanted to spare everyone, including Ms. Dugard and the children, the ordeal of the trial.”
Although Gellman called the sentence excessive, she said Garrido had expected a harsh outcome. His main concern now, she said, is being able to communicate with his wife when they are in prison.
About Dugard and the girls, she said, “he cares about them very much, despite the fact that he felt driven to tell his story — that he changed, 12 years before he was apprehended.”
Nancy Garrido sobbed through much of the sentencing and looked Dugard’s mother and aunt in the eye as the two women were describing the impact of the abduction on their family. The reason, said Stephen Tapson, her attorney, was that she wanted them to know she is sorry.
Reading her statement in court and speaking with reporters afterward, Tapson said that Nancy “wanted Jaycee to know she is sorry for what she did, that there is no way to express that. I stole your life, and there’s no way to explain it away.”