Gardner sentenced for the murder of two San Diego teenagers that rocked San Diego
John Gardner was convicted and sentenced for the murder and rape of two San Diego teenagers as well as the attempted rape of a college jogger. Gardner received two life sentences with out the possibility of parole for the murders and another 25 years for the attempted rape of the jogger- all to be served concurrently.
While the details of Gardner’s life may be certain, the healing process is just beginning for the families who lost their daughters in a brutal and senseless manner.
From the onset it was clear Gardner was agitated and knew the wrath of words he would have to listen to as each parent approached the podium and expressed what anger they felt for someone who wasn’t of this life.
The biggest reaction Gardner displayed came from hearing Amber’s mom Carrie McGonigle, he literally broke down and crocodile tears streamed down his face. McGonigle expressed distain for Gardner’s actions, but ended with “I forgive you, but I will never forget that you stole my daughter from me.”
During the hour-long proceeding, two videos were played showing Amber and Chelsea in much happier times, Gardner never looked up. It appeared to attendees that if he watched it would mean he was capable of savagely murdering two young girls.
The female jogger, Candice Moncayo, who was attacked in December and threw her elbow to Gardner’s face giving her enough time to run away also spoke about the fact he stole her “safety and solitude of her runs.” She left the podium with a fitting question; “ how’s your nose?”
The King family had the harshest words for Gardner and his mother, who failed to register her son’s address and did nothing to contact authorities in the past 14 months.
Chelsea’s father, Brent, used words like “zest for life, extremely smart and self-assured,” to describe his 17-year-old daughter. He talked about the college letters that have been arriving in the mail for Chelsea and she would never attend. He explained that he never knew he had this kind of rage inside him for another human being.
On the other hand Chelsea’s mom, Kelly, demanded Gardner to look at her while she spoke. “You have taken a life worth an infinite amount of yours.” She told Gardner that he “plundered” from their family and was responsible for “dismantling’ their family life.
Again Kelly repeated; “look at me!” She then said she was not surprised by Gardner’s lack of eye contact. And she too blamed Gardner’s mother for not doing enough to protect the world from her monster of a son.
Amber Dubois’s father, Moe, told the court his daughter was raped and killed by a registered sex offender and he blamed the legal system for letting the murderer roam the streets of Escondido after his parole expired.
According to a victim-impact statement Dubois, says Gardner served a six-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2000, but was off parole and roaming freely when he raped and murdered Amber.
Dubois pointed out that once Gardner was off parole, his GPS device was removed and was “once again this predator was allowed to stalk our streets,”
“Less than five months later, John Gardner forcefully abducted, brutally beat, physically raped and then finally heartlessly murdered and discarded our beautiful 14-year-old daughter,” Dubois said.
After a face-to face jail visit with Gardner yesterday, Amber’s mother, Carrie McGonigle, said she found some closure.
Last month McGonigle said she wanted to know the details from Gardner. “I want to know as her mom, but I think the community and law enforcement also has to know, how did this guy get Amber,” she said in April. “How do we protect our kids from someone like him?”
However, Moe Dubois said the missed opportunities to protect the community from Gardner allowed a “monster” to walk the streets looking for vulnerable young girls.
“Now, with our last hope for justice, we depend on the prison community to slowly and painfully cause (Gardner’s) remaining days on this earth to be a living nightmare, and I truly hope he suffers a hundred times the amount of pain he caused our family’s,” Moe Dubois said in his statement to the court. “`He will burn in hell for the acts he committed, I just hope that day is an agonizingly long way away and that he will have to suffer as much as we all have, actually more.”
The 14-year-old Amber Dubois went missing in February 2009. However, her body wasn’t found until two months ago. In an offer of life over death Gardner took authorities to a remote part of Pala where he discarded Amber’s remains.
The murder may have gone unsolved if Gardner was not arrested for the rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King, a Poway High School senior.
Escondido Police Chief, Jim Maher said the Dubois case was just two weeks away from being placed in the cold case department.
King disappeared at the end of February while she went for an after-school run at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. It would be only three days later that Gardner was arraigned for her murder, and that he agreed to lead authorities to Amber’s body in Pala.
Looking ahead Moe Dubois says he is working with lawmakers to develop laws that will help authorities respond more quickly when children are taken. He will unveil details on May 25, coinciding with National Missing Children’s Day. Other ideas in the new program include requiring child predators to have special driver’s licenses.
On a side note, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed his administration to take action on recommendations made by the Sex Offender Management Board after a thorough review of the John Albert Gardner case.
Schwarzenegger said he directed the board to review the Gardner case and determine where systematic improvements could be made to protect communities.
The department will award contracts for a pilot program to treat designated sex offenders on parole as part of a containment model strategy and attempt to make more records available to the public, Schwarzenegger said.
As the doors closed on the courtroom, Gardner’s fate was sealed. Trying to make sense of all this seems impossible for outsiders looking in. However, Kelly King’s words echoed in the background; “Come on mom we have to get up, we have important things to do mom, very important.”