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Kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard Update: Phillip Garrido pleads not guilty in surprise development

Jaycee Lee Dugard, 11-year old girl who went missing in 1991 (inset) and Phillip Garrido is seen in court on March 17, 2011.
AP Photo
Jaycee Dugard suspect to judge: I'm not guilty
Jaycee Lee Dugard, 11-year old girl who went missing in 1991 (inset); Phillip Garrido is seen in court on March 17, 2011.
CBS/AP

(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - Convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of kidnapping and raping Northern California girl Jaycee Dugard when she was 11 and holding her captive for nearly two decades.

Pictures: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Pictures: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

It came as a surprise after an attorney said Garrido had made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty. It would have sent him to prison for the rest of his life.

Garrido, who fathered the two children of Dugard, made the plea to an amended indictment that added allegations of kidnapping of a person under 14, kidnapping for sexual purposes and other claims.

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

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.

Pictures: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Pictures: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

Phillip and his wife 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 previously pleaded not guilty in the case. Phillip Garrido's 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.

"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."

Pictures: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Pictures: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

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.

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.

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.

Pictures: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Pictures: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

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.

Complete coverage of Jaycee Dugard on Crimesider