Lawyer: Dugard told ‘tale of terror’ to grand jury
PLACERVILLE, Calif. – A lawyer for a California woman charged with her husband with holding Jaycee Lee Dugard captive for 18 years said allowing the “tale of terror” told by Dugard to a grand jury to become public before a trial would make it impossible to find an impartial jury.
“I have examined hundreds of transcripts that vividly describe murder, rape, pillage, but nowhere in my experience have I seen a transcript that describes evil as is contained in the grand jury transcript for People v. Garrido,” Stephen Tapson, the court-appointed lawyer representing Nancy Garrido, said in a written filing Wednesday objecting to news media requests to unseal the testimony.
Dugard was the star witness before the grand jury that indicted Phillip and Nancy Garrido in September. Dugard, however, has not appeared or testified at any public court hearings.
She is writing a memoir for Simon & Schuster scheduled to come out next year. The publisher says the book will cover her life from the abduction to how she is doing now.
Outside court Thursday, Tapson said he thought it would be difficult to find enough jurors for the trial anywhere in California, given the amount of publicity the case has generated since Dugard resurfaced and the Garridos were arrested.
“If you really want to see what happened to Jaycee Dugard while you are eating your Cheerios, you need professional help,” he said. “Obviously, I am conceding this is evil. The question is how evil was (Nancy Garrido’s) participation.”
Tapson also acknowledged for the first time as part of his written filing that his client was with Phillip Garrido when Dugard was snatched near her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991.
“I’m not going to say some other Nancy did it,” he said outside court.
The Garridos are charged with kidnapping Dugard, now 30, in 1991 and keeping her and her two daughters fathered by Phillip Garrido hidden in a backyard compound until last year.
Nancy Garrido has pleaded not guilty. Her husband’s arraignment has been postponed pending completion of court-ordered psychiatric evaluations.
El Dorado County Judge Douglas Phimister said during a pretrial hearing Thursday that Phillip Garrido would be the subject of a two-week hearing in March to determine if he is competent to face trial.
Phimister said he did not want to delay the proceedings, but psychiatrists needed time to evaluate the defendant and videotapes that have remained in the hands of prosecutors.
The judge did not disclose the contents of the tapes. The indictment revealed that investigators recovered several videos produced by Garrido depicting sex acts with Dugard.
Phimister suspended criminal proceedings against Phillip Garrido last month after his public defender reported that her client’s mental state had made him incapable of helping her with his defense.
Phimister also delayed until at least next month a ruling on the request by several news organizations to unseal documents in the case. The records include transcripts from the grand jury that indicted the Garridos on kidnapping, rape and child pornography charges.
Phillip Garrido’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Susan Gellman, did not comment on Tapson’s statements. She said her client’s mental state was unchanged from when she asked the judge to put Garrido’s case on hold.
“He is maintaining. We are all kind of maintaining,” Gellman said. “This is a tough case for everyone.”