PLACERVILLE, Calif. - A convicted sex offender and his wife pleaded guilty Thursday to kidnapping and raping a South Tahoe girl in a surprise plea deal that will keep the now-grown victim and the two daughters she gave birth to during her 18 years of captivity from having to testify at a trial.
Under the hastily negotiated agreement, Phillip and Nancy Garrido are likely to spend the rest of their lives in prison after abducting Jaycee Dugard in 1991 and keeping her in a backyard compound of tents and sheds.
"I'm relieved that Phillip and Nancy Garrido have finally acknowledged their guilt and confessed to their crimes against me and my family," Dugard said in a statement released by her spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer.
Phillip Garrido, 60, faces a maximum sentence of 431 years to life in prison after entering guilty pleas to 14 kidnapping and sexual assault charges, including six counts of rape and seven counts of committing lewd acts captured on video.
His wife, Nancy Garrido, 55, who originally faced the same charges as her husband and a sentence of 181 years to life, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of rape. She faces a maximum sentence of 36 years to life.
"Obviously you don't like to plead your client guilty to a life sentence, but that's the best I could get and that's what she's willing to do," Nancy Garrido's defense lawyer Stephen Tapson said. "Unfortunately, it's going to probably be in a casket" when she leaves prison.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson credited the 30-year-old Dugard's willingness to relive her harrowing experience in court if necessary with producing the pleas.
When he spoke to Dugard on Wednesday, "she expressed again, she was ready, willing and able, if called, to testify," Pierson said. "But I think there's also, as a mother, the practical reality of it, 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."
Both defendants waived their right to appeal and were scheduled to be sentenced on June 2.