PLACERVILLE -- Their jail scrubs have turned from "high-risk" red to orange, and Phillip and Nancy Garrido managed a few grins in the courtroom on Thursday as a judge weighed whether to unseal grand jury transcripts that contain explicit firsthand details of Jaycee Dugard's abduction and years of sexual bondage at the couple's home near Antioch.
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister delayed a decision on the transcripts and other sealed documents, which a group of media organizations seek over the objections of the Garridos and District Attorney Vern Pierson.
Nancy Garrido's attorney said the transcripts describe "evilness," arguing that releasing them now would taint any jury pool. Pierson argued that they would violate Dugard's privacy.
Karl Olson, an attorney for the media organizations, noted that details of the case already are widespread.The transcripts include testimony from Dugard, now 30, and three investigators.
"This thing oozes prejudice. Every page," said Stephen Tapson, Nancy Garrido's lawyer. He said they detail "the actual events of what this girl went through when she was 11 years old in nitty-gritty detail. The public doesn't need to know that."
Tapson then described media as "the hounds of the Garridos. God knows they've been sniffing and snarling and whining since August 2009."
Phimister is expected to rule on the documents sometime before a mental competency trial for Phillip Garrido,
Tapson claimed that his client "didn't have to do with any of the sex stuff. The evil I refer to involves Mr. Garrido." Pierson, the district attorney, declined to comment on whether Nancy Garrido physically participated in the sexual abuse that authorities say Jaycee Dugard suffered for years in a hidden backyard compound after her abduction from her South Lake Tahoe street at age 11.
The Garridos together face an 18-count indictment handed up Sept. 21 by a criminal grand jury, replacing a criminal complaint filed days after their Aug. 26, 2009, arrest at a Concord parole office.
The indictment includes counts of kidnapping, kidnapping for sexual purposes, forcible rape, and forcible lewd acts upon a child, as well as 13 special allegations that would add decades of prison time if the Garridos are convicted.
It also raised a new allegation, that Phillip Garrido recorded sex crimes against Dugard on video during her childhood. Authorities say he fathered both of her children.
His public defender, Susan Gellman, said she plans to file for a change of venue to remove the case from El Dorado County, but did not know when.
Nancy Garrido, 55, pleaded not guilty Oct. 1. Criminal proceedings against Phillip Garrido are pending a determination of his mental state. The case returns to court Jan. 6.
The 59-year-old paroled sex offender and his wife remain jailed in Placerville, where they both have been downgraded from a "high-risk" status. They remain segregated but now are able to leave their cells for an hour a day without ankle chains, said Lt. Pam Lane, commander of the Placerville jail.
The couple can speak to each other by phone once a month for five minutes but cannot meet, under a judge's order.
Contact John Simerman at 925-943-8072.