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Justice near for Jaycee after 18-year captivity

SAN FRANCISCO - A California woman who was abducted as a girl in 1991 and held captive for 18 years could get her first measure of justice if the man accused of fathering her two children by rape after kidnapping her pleads guilty.

Defendant Phillip Garrido, a convicted rapist on parole when 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard disappeared while walking to a school bus stop, was expected to plead guilty Thursday as part of a plea deal that would keep him in prison for the rest of his life, attorney Stephen Tapson said.

The agreement was outlined last week during a closed-door meeting that Tapson said he attended with prosecutors, the public defender representing Garrido and the judge presiding over the highly publicized case.

"He is going to plead unless somebody gets ill or the power goes off in the courthouse," said Tapson, who represents Garrido's wife and co-defendant Nancy Garrido.

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Deputy Public Defender Susan Gellman, who represents Phillip Garrido, and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson declined to confirm a guilty plea would be entered.

The case attracted international attention after Dugard surfaced in August 2009 and authorities said she and her children had lived in a hidden compound of tents and sheds in the Garridos' backyard in Antioch, never attending school or receiving medical attention.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido were both charged with 18 counts of kidnapping, rape, false imprisonment, child pornography and committing lewd acts on a child.

If convicted on all counts, the maximum sentence for Nancy Garrido would be 181 years, while Phillip Garrido could get 431 years, according to El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney James Clinchard.

Nancy Garrido has pleaded not guilty in the case. Phillip Garrido has yet to enter a plea after his criminal proceedings were halted for more than four months while his mental competency to stand trial was under evaluation.

Both defendants gave full confessions to authorities and expressed interest in plea bargains that would spare Dugard and her two daughters — now 13 and 16 — from having to testify, Tapson said.

He said he has advised Nancy Garrido against pleading guilty unless prosecutors offer a deal that holds the possibility — however remote — that she would one day be freed from prison.

Complete coverage of Jaycee Dugard on Crimesider

"She doesn't want to go to trial," he said. "This is her lawyer saying let's set it for trial and see what happens."

Tapson planned to ask El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister to dismiss the rape and lewd conduct charges against his client, since Nancy Garrido maintains she did not directly participate in any sex acts with Dugard.

Dugard gave birth to her daughters when she was 14 and 17, and Nancy Garrido delivered the children, according to court documents. The girls knew Phillip Garrido was their father but grew up thinking Dugard was their older sister.

The mother and daughters rarely interacted with the outside world. Phillip Garrido ran a printing business, and Dugard assisted him in producing business cards, brochures and flyers, occasionally interacting with clients through email.

A few neighbors and customers would later report having seen the girls but not thinking much of it, even though they knew Garrido was a sex offender.

Authorities said Dugard was grabbed by Nancy Garrido off her family's South Lake Tahoe street and forced into a car driven by Phillip Garrido on June 10, 1991, as her stepfather watched her walk to the school bus stop.

The FBI, police and volunteers searched in vain for the pretty blonde girl who was last seen wearing a pink wind breaker and pink stretch pants. But they never came close to finding her, even though Dugard's stepfather gave an accurate description of the couple's car and of Nancy Garrido, and despite the fact that Phillip Garrido was being monitored by federal and state parole agents because of his rape conviction.

Dugard's reappearance 18 years, four months and 16 days later came about almost as a fluke.

In the days before his arrest, Phillip Garrido had become more determined to tell people about the religious group he founded called God's Desire and a box he had built that he believed allowed him to speak with God. During that time, he delivered a handwritten screed called "Origin of Schizophrenia Revealed" to the FBI's San Francisco office.

But it was a visit to the University of California, Berkeley, that same day that caused his ragged family to unravel. He showed up at campus with his daughters with Dugard in tow, seeking a permit for a religious event.

Campus police officers became suspicious, and after running a background check realized he had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in Reno in 1977.

The Berkeley officers contacted Garrido's parole officer, who was surprised to hear that he had young daughters and ordered him to come in for a meeting. Garrido complied and for a still unknown reason brought his wife, the girls and Dugard.

Dugard tried to conceal her identity, initially telling authorities she was hiding from an abusive husband in Minnesota and giving her name as Alyssa.

Wary investigators separated her from Phillip Garrido, who had described Dugard and the two girls as his nieces, and under further questioning he admitted kidnapping "Alyssa" and Dugard disclosed her identity, authorities said.

She was reunited with her mother the next day and has remained in Northern California with her and her daughters. She requested privacy and has not attended any of the court hearings. She is writing her memoirs, which are scheduled to be published in September.

The Associated Press as a matter of policy avoids identifying victims of sexual abuse by name in its news reports

However, Dugard's disappearance had been known and reported for nearly two decades, making impossible any effort to shield her identity when she resurfaced.

Dugard's case revealed problems with California's system for monitoring convicted sex offenders after it was determined parole agents had missed numerous clues and chances to find her.

She received a $20 million settlement under which the state acknowledged repeated mistakes were made by parole agents responsible for monitoring Phillip Garrido. California has since increased monitoring of sex offenders.

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