PLACERVILLE, Calif. (CBS/AP) The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department has long objected to allowing the Northern California couple charged with kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her captive for 18 years to speak on the phone once a month, and now they say their suspicions about Phillip and Nancy Garrido have been confirmed.
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister suspended the monthly phone conversations Wednesday after receiving the request from a lawyer for the Sheriff's Department who said the two inmates were abusing the privilege.
When the judge granted the monthly conversations in May, following the couple's arrest for kidnapping and sexual abuse, the sheriff's department warned that the couple might conspire on a defense story, possibly in code, or that one might influence the other. And now, after reviewing the tapes from the past seven months, Ed Knapp, who represents the department, told the judge "our fears have been confirmed," although he declined to describe the nature of the phone conversations.
The judge instructed Knapp to submit written evidence next week explaining why the calls should be discontinued permanently.
"Conversations between defendants in the same case are very problematical. We generally don't allow it," Knapp told reporters. "They are able to conform their testimony, to create false testimony in general."
The Garridos have been in custody since August 2009, when they were arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Dugard, then 11, outside her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991.
Prosecutors say Dugard and her two daughters, fathered by Phillip Garrido, were hidden in a compound of sheds and tents in the backyard of the couple's Antioch home for 18 years.
The couple faces an 18-count indictment that includes charges of kidnapping, kidnapping for sexual purposes, forcible rape, and forcible lewd acts upon a child, as well as 13 special allegations that would add decades of prison time.
Nancy Garrido has pleaded not guilty. Criminal proceedings against Phillip Garrido have been put on hold because his public defender has expressed concern about his mental state.
He has undergone three court-ordered psychiatric evaluations; a hearing on his competency to stand trial is scheduled to start Feb. 28.
The couple's next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 3.