Murder victims’ families expected to address Gardner on Friday
By KELLY WHEELER
City News ServiceThe registered sex offender who raped and murdered San Diego area teens Chelsea King and Amber Dubois will hear from their families at his sentencing hearing on Friday, according to a probation report released Wednesday.
John Albert Gardner III, 31, pleaded guilty April 16 and will be sentenced to a pair of life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 33 years to life behind bars.
The 14-page probation report indicates that Amber’s mother, Carrie McGonigle, and father, Moe Dubois, along with his girlfriend, Rebecca Smith, all plan to address Judge David Danielsen.
Chelsea’s parents, Brent and Kelly King, are also expected to speak at the hearing, but the report indicated that a probation officer had yet to speak to the Kings about their victim-impact statement.
Also expected to address the court is a woman who told police that Gardner tackled her to the ground while she was running in Rancho Bernardo Community Park last Dec. 27, the same park where Chelsea disappeared.
Candice Moncayo said she fought back and was able to elbow Gardner in the nose and get away.
Chelsea, a 17-year-old avid runner and straight-A senior at Poway High School, disappeared the afternoon of Feb. 25 after going for a run at the park in Rancho Bernardo. The teen’s body was discovered five days later in a shallow grave near a tributary of Lake Hodges. She had been strangled.
Amber, a 14-year-old freshman at Escondido High School, vanished while walking to school in February 2009. Her skeletal remains were found last month in Pala. An autopsy determined that she had been stabbed to death.
Both teens had been raped.
Early last month, three days after Gardner was arraigned on charges of murdering Chelsea, he led authorities to Amber’s body. In return, prosecutors agreed not to use his knowledge of the whereabouts of her remains against him in court.
In denying that he had specifically targeted the victims, Gardner told KFMB-TV two weeks ago that “it wasn’t about their age” and said he was on seemingly routine outings prior to the abductions.
“To calm myself, I’ll go for a walk, or I’ll go for a drive, just to calm down,” Gardner said.
He described the impulse to attack the girls as sudden and overwhelming.
“I mean, I was aware of what I was doing, and I could not stop myself,” Gardner said. “I was — had a major rage, and (was) pissed off, and pissed off at my whole life and everybody that’s hurt me. And (I) blew up, and I hurt the wrong people.”
Gardner spoke remorsefully of his crimes several times during the interview.
“I hate myself,” Gardner said. “I really do. There is no — there is no taking back what I did. And if I could, yes I would. Are you kidding me? But I was out of control. If I was able to stop myself in the middle of it, I would’ve. And I could not. I was out of control.”