Chelsea King’s parents have three main focuses ahead of them -- raising their 13-year-old son, Chelsea’s Law and finding the right words to say to the “monster” who killed their daughter.
“I go over in my head, thousands of times. What do you say? What do you say to something like this? He’ll know exactly how I feel and I think I’ll be speaking on behalf of many, many people,” Chelsea’ s mother Kelly King said.
John Albert Gardner III will be sentenced for the murders of 17-year-old Chelsea King and 14-year-old Amber Dubois on June 1 -- giving the victim’s families the opportunity to talk to him directly.
“Every night when I lay down to go to sleep, my mind is writing what I’m going to say,” Brent King said. “I’ll share that June 1. I will be controlled and I will be dignified, but my words will be harsh.”
In their first interview since the day he pleaded guilty, the Kings called Gardner a coward who feels no remorse.
“He’s not sorry,” Kelly said. “I think for one to be able to feel remorse, you have to be human. I don’t consider this monster to be human.”
They say they knew in their hearts that Gardner was guilty and that there was no satisfaction in hearing his plea.
“It was just another painful day in a life that we’re now going to carry full of pain. Just another day,” Brent said.
His wife agreed.
“Every day is so unbelievably difficult and as strong as we are, nothing prepares you for another punch in the gut,” Kelly said.
The plea deal does mean that there will not be a trial. The Kings say that is in the best interest of their family, friends and the community.
“They’ve lived this nightmare with us. So I don’t see the point of putting anyone through any more of this than they have to,” Kelly said.
Gardner's attorneys would only agree to the plea deal if it meant life in prison without the possibility of parole. That means Gardner avoids the death penalty – something the Kings had wanted.
“The problem is, it’s a hollow promise in California and once you become educated on that, you understand it,” Brent said. “If there was a death penalty in California, it would have been a much harder decision.”
Chelsea’s parents agreed to the deal, in part, so Amber’s parents would know what happened to their daughter.
“What would anyone else do? What could anyone else do? What would anyone else want to do for the Dubois’ and the situation that they are in,” Kelly said.
California would send some child molesters to prison for life for a first offense under a bill named after Chelsea. The bill cleared its first legislative committee Tuesday after Chelsea's father evoked the memory of his slain daughter.
He asked members of the Assembly Public Safety Committee to advance the bill that would send some child molesters to prison for life after a first conviction, monitor others with tracking technology until they die and make it illegal for sex offenders to visit parks.
Four committee members approved the bill while three abstained.
“We had a very good day yesterday in Sacramento. It was non-partisan. There were beautiful words spoken by the different members of the panel,” Brent said. “We thank everybody for helping us get to our first step and now we’re asking everybody to help us get to our second, third and fourth step.”
Many wonder how these parents have the strength to fight this battle.
Brent King says it’s simple. It’s Chelsea.
“I have Chelsea sitting right on my shoulder. ‘Okay dad look at that person. Okay dad, let’s use these words’. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s my focus. Right now, it’s my focus,” he said.