Grand jury indicts Jaycee Lee Dugard’s kidnappers |

Grand jury indicts Jaycee Lee Dugard’s kidnappers

by Lisa Leff
Associated Press

A grand jury has indicted the couple accused of kidnapping and raping Jaycee Dugard, who was held captive for 18 years in Northern California, officials said Friday.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido were each indicted on 18 counts plus multiple special allegations in a process that will eliminate the need for a preliminary hearing where their alleged victim may have testified.

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said outside court the indictment was sought to protect the privacy of Dugard and spare her and her family from having to take the witness stand until the trial.

Using a grand jury also prevented much of the evidence from becoming public during the preliminary hearing that had been scheduled to begin next week but was canceled in light of the indictment.

“It’s a better way to get a case to a final conclusion and move it along to trial” when it has attracted a lot of publicity, Pierson said.

Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister sealed the grand jury transcripts on Sept. 21 after the indictments were returned.

Pierson would not say if Dugard had appeared before the panel. A witness list attached to the indictment includes a Jane Doe, which is how Dugard has been referred to in previous court documents.

Stephen Tapson, Nancy Garrido’s court-appointed lawyer, said outside court that he heard from a juror that Dugard spent a full day before the panel and that her testimony brought many in attendance to tears.

The revised charges against the Garridos include kidnapping, forcible rape, lewd acts on a child and false imprisonment. The indictment also alleges Phillip Garrido videotaped sex acts involving himself and his wife with the victim. Both defendants were charged with possession of child pornography.

Tapson entered a plea of not guilty for Nancy Garrido. Criminal proceedings against her husband have been suspended to evaluate his mental competency.

The couple previously were charged by prosecutors with 29 counts each. Those charges were superseded by the indictment.

The Garridos each face eight special allegations, including kidnapping for sexual purposes and victimizing a stranger. Phillip Garrido faces five additional special allegations related to his prior record as a sex offender from a 1977 rape conviction.

The special allegations could lead to tougher sentences if the Garridos are convicted.

Authorities said the Garridos abducted Dugard, then 11, from a South Lake Tahoe bus stop in 1991 and held her captive. They said Phillip Garrido fathered Dugard’s two children.