Courts & Crime

Defense paints idyllic picture of life in Garrido household

SACRAMENTO — It sounds like a typical American family.

They took vacations together, went to the library, gardened and raised pets.

They even had special little names for each other.

But the family unit described in court papers released Friday had Phillip Garrido as its patriarch, and even the most tender descriptions of daily life in the Garrido home cannot erase the fact that the family allegedly sprang from Jaycee Lee Dugard's kidnapping at age 11 and repeated rapes.

Garrido's public defender, Susan Gellman, included new descriptions of life with the Garridos in court motions asking that Garrido and his wife, Nancy, be allowed to meet in the El Dorado County jail, where both are being held on kidnap, sexual assault and other charges.

Gellman also asked the court to reveal Dugard's whereabouts, so she could be contacted. Dugard's location has been a closely held secret since August, when she accompanied Garrido to a Bay Area parole office and revealed her identity.

Authorities allege Garrido and his wife abducted Dugard in 1991, as she walked to a school bus stop near her El Dorado County home. For 18 years, they kept her captive in the backyard of their Antioch-area home, according to investigators, and Dugard bore two daughters to Phillip Garrido during that time, the first when she was 14.

The motion does not directly name Dugard, now 29, referring instead to a "Jane Doe."

Gellman cites discovery material from the prosecution that says Dugard and others have said "they acted as a family in recent years."

"They took vacations together; they went to the library together; they ran a family business together," her motion states. "The children were home-schooled. They kept pets and had a garden. They took care of an ailing family member together (an apparent reference to Phillip Garrido's mother). They had special names for each other.

"All of this ended on the day that Phillip and Nancy Garrido was (sic) arrested. Jane Doe's identity was revealed. She told her children that she, not Nancy Garrido, was their mother. She told them she had been kidnapped and raped by their father."

The documents say that, according to the discovery material, sexual activity with Dugard ceased after she gave birth to a second child.

Phillip Garrido and his wife have pleaded not guilty in the case and face trial in El Dorado Superior Court, where arguments on the newest motions will be heard Feb. 26.

As part of their defense strategy, Gellman said the Garridos need to be able to speak to each other in the jail, where they have been held in separate cells since August.

"He and his wife are co-defendants who need to prepare their case," Gellman wrote, adding that the two have family decisions to make, as well.

"While it is true that legal strategy decisions can be made by the attorneys acting on their behalf, family decisions cannot so be made," she wrote.

"While the underlying accusations are serious, troubling and sad, there can be no doubt that Mr. and Mrs. Garrido acted as parents to two children and raised them for many years and that the decisions they make regarding their course of action in this case will affect these children for many years to come."

Prosecutors have said Dugard is expected to testify at the trial because the Garridos have the right to face their accuser.

But legal experts say the defense has no right to gain access to Dugard before trial.

"Nobody has to talk to either side in a criminal case," said defense attorney William Portanova, a former prosecutor. "If somebody refuses to talk to the defense investigator, that can be used against them at trial to attempt to demonstrate bias to the other side. With a victim, the bias is a given."

In other developments Friday, a Sacramento judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit by The Bee and two other media outlets seeking release of parole documents related to the state's decade-long supervision of Phillip Garrido, who is on lifetime parole for 1977 convictions in the kidnap and rape of a young woman near South Lake Tahoe.

After a two-hour hearing, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette directed the state corrections department and the state Office of Inspector General to release its Garrido files by next Friday. He said some documents involving personnel and other issues can be submitted to him separately for review.

Lawyers for the state had argued against the release, saying it could invade the privacy of parole and peace officers and Garrido himself, and could hinder the ongoing prosecution of Garrido and his wife.

The state is expected to appeal the decision.

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