September 1, 2009 in Nation/World

Kidnap suspect left prison early

He served 11 of 50 years for 1976 rape, abduction
Maria L. La Ganga, Molly Hennessy-Fiske And Maura Dolan Los Angeles Times
 

As details continued to emerge about Jaycee Lee Dugard’s alleged kidnapper, questions intensified Monday over how Phillip Garrido could have served only 11 years in prison after a 1976 rape and kidnapping for which he had been given a 50-year federal sentence as well as a life term in Nevada.

Garrido was convicted of kidnapping in federal court for abducting Katherine Callaway in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on a November night nearly 33 years ago and driving her – handcuffed and hogtied – to Reno. He then pleaded guilty to a Nevada state rape charge, for assaulting her in a storage unit.

Leland Lutfy, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the kidnapping case, said Monday that he was “amazed” because, at the time, defendants convicted of federal crimes were required to serve two-thirds of their sentences – in this case 33 years. That would have kept him away from Dugard, who was snatched from her quiet street in 1991.

“It makes no sense to me,” he said in an interview.

Michael Malloy, who prosecuted the rape case in Washoe County, Nev., said that the system “let everyone down, especially Jaycee Dugard. It doesn’t seem an adequate sentence for the violent crime he committed in 1976.”

Callaway, who has since married Jim Hall and goes by her married name, thought Garrido wouldn’t be paroled until at least 2006, she said during an appearance on CNN. But a little more than a decade after she was assaulted, she was approached at a Lake Tahoe casino by a man who resembled Garrido. She called prison officials and learned that he had been paroled to California.

“In many ways, the capture of Phillip Garrido has closed a chapter in my life,” she wrote on the “Larry King Live” blog. “I don’t have to hide anymore. I don’t have to live every day of my life wondering if he is looking for me. I am finally free from the fear I have lived with since the day I learned he was paroled.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Parole Commission did not return a call for comment about why Garrido was set free in 1988. Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola University, said that barring an extraordinary situation, “there is no way on a 50-year sentence he should have been out.”

Garrido, 58, and his second wife, Nancy, 54, were charged last week with 29 counts of rape and kidnapping in the nearly two-decade disappearance. The couple allegedly abducted Dugard when she was 11 and held her in the backyard of their Antioch, Calif.-area home, where she gave birth to Garrido’s two girls. They have pleaded not guilty.

Police said Monday they found one small bone fragment on the property next door to Garrido’s, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities revealed the discovery after FBI and local law enforcement agencies finished combing Garrido’s property and the one next door for possible links to unsolved crimes in the area.

Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jimmy Lee said it would take several weeks of testing to determine if the recovered shard was animal or human.

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