SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS/AP) Chelsea King would still be alive today if the state of California's parole agents had done a better job of tracking her confessed killer, registered sex offender John Gardner, according to Chelsea's father Brent, and he believed that his family deserved to be compensated for their loss.
On Thursday, a board that considers compensation for California crime victims rejected Brent King's claim, but that doesn't mean that the battle is over. The decision actually clears the way for the King family to sue the state in court.
Gardner pleaded guilty in April to murdering 17-year-old Chelsea, who disappeared Feb. 25 and whose body was found March 2 buried in a park near her hometown of Poway north of San Diego. He also pleaded guilty to killing 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who disappeared in early 2009 as she walked to school in Escondido. Amber's skeletal remains were found March 8 in a rugged area north of San Diego.
According to Chelsea's father, Gardner should never have been out on the street in the first place. And court and parole records seem to agree - Gardner's "rap sheet" is riddled with red flags that were repeatedly ignored.
Gardner pleaded guilty in 2000 to committing lewd and lascivious acts on a 13-year-old girl. During the sentencing phase a probation report quoted Dr. Matthew F. Carroll as saying that Gardner's "predilection toward younger girls is a problem. He manifests significant predatory traits and is a danger to the community." Carroll recommended he get the maximum 10 years in prison.
The prosecutors asked for six, Gardner served five and was released.
He then proceeded to violate the terms of his parole at least five times but each time he was left to roam the streets The last violation was on Sept. 8, 2008, just 18 days before Gardner was let go from parole supervision and had his location-tracking GPS bracelet removed from his ankle.
Amber Dubois went missing four months after the state stopped tracking Gardner.
Chelsea was killed almost a year after that.
Janice Mackey, a spokeswoman for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, says board members decided the claim would be better handled by the courts.