John Gardner- who shocked the nation this March when he was arrested for the rape and murder of 17 year old Chelsea King- pleaded guilty Friday for the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.
Chelsea was a “Straight A” high school student and avid jogger. While out running near her home in San Diego in late February of this year, she was assaulted by Gardner, who forced her to go with him to a remote area near Lake Hodges. There he raped and strangled her.
Amber was only 14 years old when John Gardner assaulted and murdered her in February of 2009. She was walking to Escondido High School when Gardner grabbed her and took her to Pala, where he raped and stabbed her.
After his arrest, Americans were horrified and angered to learn that he had already been convicted for sexually assaulting a 13 year old girl in 2000, that he was released on parole after serving five years of his six-year sentence, and that he had committed multiple violations of the terms of his parole.
Outrage deepened when a probation report from 2000 emerged, which contained this conclusion from a psychiatrist: that John Gardner had “significant predatory traits toward underage girls and should be kept in prison for as long as possible.”
Now the LA Times reports that “Brent and Kelly King, the victim’s mother, have traveled to Sacramento to announce the introduction of ‘Chelsea’s Law,’ which would send some child molesters to prison for life after a first conviction and monitor others with tracking technology until they die.”
While they prefer the death penalty for John Gardner, who will be sentenced to life in prison as part of his plea bargain, they are satisfied to find closure so unexpectedly soon in a process that usually takes years and even decades. Brent King, Chelsea’s father, said, “While our unequivocal first choice is the death penalty, we acknowledge that in California that penalty has become an empty promise.”
Gardner’s sentencing will commence on June 1st.