Sat, Feb 05, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Alleged kidnapper found competent for California trial

AFP, LOS ANGELES

A US judge ruled on Thursday that a man accused of holding a young California girl, Jaycee Dugard, captive for nearly two decades and raping her is mentally fit to stand trial.

Dugard’s long ordeal in captivity with paroled sex offender Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy came to light when she was freed in 2009, 18 years after she was snatched at the age of 11.

The two were indicted in October on 18 charges, including three counts of kidnapping, six of rape, seven of forced lewd acts upon a child, one of false imprisonment and one count of possession or control of child pornography.

However, the case had been on hold until Thursday because of questions over whether Garrido was mentally competent.

Prosecution and defense lawyers agreed to allow El Dorado County Superior Court judge Douglas Phimister to decide the matter, and he quickly ruled that Garrido was able to be tried.

“The judge found Phillip Garrido competent to stand trial,” court official Jackie Davenport said, adding: “There were three reports that the judge reviewed and after evaluating the evidence, he made his ruling.”

Garrido is accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old Dugard outside her home in South Lake Tahoe, California, in 1991, just three years after he was released from prison after serving only 11 years of a 50-year sentence for rape in Nevada.

Dugard was found alive in August 2009 after Garrido imprisoned her in a secret backyard compound of his home in Antioch, east of San Francisco.

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