Killer of 2 California girls gets life in prison

Killer of 2 California girls gets life in prison
# 16 May 2010 03:49 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. With the teary-eyed killer looking on, the parents of two slain teenage girls told a California courtroom of the beauty and decency of their children, and then a woman who survived one of his attacks urged the judge to banish him from their world, APA reports quoting website.
Minutes later Friday the judge complied, sentencing John Albert Gardner III to two life terms without possibility of parole for murdering Chelsea King, 17, and Amber Dubois, 14, and a third life term with a 25-year minimum for the attempted rape of Candice Moncayo, a jogger who escaped by smashing him in the nose with an elbow.
Gardner, 31, breathed heavily and cried at times during the emotional statements, delivered by family members just before Superior Court Judge David Danielsen sentenced him.
"Chelsea was everything this man was not," said Brent King, the father of one of the victims. "She was as good as this man is evil."
Amber devoured books, adored animals and stood in pouring rain because she loved nature, said her mother, Carrie McGonigle.
Amber’s backpack was filled with Valentine’s Day cards for friends on the day she was abducted while walking to school in suburban Escondido in February 2009, McGonigle said. The Future Farmers of America member was also carrying a check to buy a lamb, she said.
Brent King said it was especially bittersweet to receive acceptance letters recently from all 11 colleges to which Chelsea had applied before her death in February.
He said he loved changing his daughter’s diapers and, years later, talking with her about global issues, competition, life’s pressures and her dreams. They marveled at the beauty of plants and animals and joked about God’s sense of humor in creating the platypus, he said.
Gardner, who reached a plea deal last month that spared him the death penalty, cried during a video of Amber’s life. He showed a flash of anger when Moncayo, asked about his smashed nose, veering from her prepared remarks.
Moncayo said she came to ask "to remove this man from our world, to make us a little safer by locking him up permanently and to finally free us from the nightmare he created."
Gardner raised his head when Kelly King, Chelsea’s mother, demanded that she look at him. He refused when she asked him a second time.
"Why am I not surprised?" she said.
Gardner’s crimes have sparked a far-reaching review of how California deals with sex predators, a campaign that advocates hope to take to Washington, D.C., and to state legislatures.
Chelsea’s parents are leading a campaign for "Chelsea’s Law" to allow life sentences for some convicted child molesters in California and lifetime electronic monitoring of others. The bill, which cleared its first legislative committee last month, would also ban sex offenders from parks.
The Kings on Friday also blamed Gardner’s mother, Catherine Osborn, for failing to stop her son, who served five years of a six-year prison sentence for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor in 2000.
Brent King, turning to address her in her front-row seat, said she would always bear "our pain on your soul."
"She knew what you were capable of and did nothing," Kelly King said.
Osborn dabbed her face with tissue as McGonigle described her devastating loss. McGonigle said she often obsessed about her daughter’s final moments.
"Was she scared? Was she calling my name? No one can appreciate the horror that is my life until they can appreciate the joy that was my Amber," she said.
Calls to stiffen penalties for child sex offenders began almost the moment Gardner was arrested Feb. 28, three days after he attacked Chelsea on an afternoon run in San Diego, strangled her, and buried her in a shallow, lakeside grave.
The discovery of Chelsea’s semen-stained clothing during a massive search quickly led authorities to Gardner. Days later, he led investigators to Amber’s remains in a remote, mountainous area north of San Diego.
The case has also put California’s parole system under the microscope, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered a state board to review the system.
Gardner faced a maximum of nearly 11 years in prison for molesting his neighbor in 2000, but prosecutors called for six years. A court-appointed psychiatrist urged the maximum sentence allowed by law. He said in court documents that Gardner was a "continued danger to underage girls" and "an extremely poor candidate" for treatment.
Gardner lived little more than a football field’s length from a San Diego preschool for at least 16 months while on parole from 2005 to 2008. That violated a condition of parole that prohibited him from living within a half-mile of a school.
A corrections department official let him stay until his lease expired in 2006 but no one noticed he was still living there until a year later.
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