Amber Dubois' mother, Carrie McGonigle, strained for emotional control on Friday as District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis discussed why her office accepted a plea deal with now-convicted double murderer and rapist John Gardner.
For the first time, officials explained how they found Amber's body since her disappearance on Feb. 13, 2009, as she walked to class at Escondido High School. Dumanis said on Friday that Gardner led sheriff's deputies on March 5 of this year -- shortly after his arrest -- to the 14-year-old's body in the remote area of Pala where he raped and stabbed her to death less than two hours after he first came into contact with her. He also admitted Friday that he then buried her body in a shallow grave, as he did a little over a year later after raping and strangling Chelsea King in Rancho Bernardo Community Park.
Under the terms of the deal Gardner worked out for leading investigators to the body, though, prosecutors could not use that information against him. However, they would be allowed to use evidence found at the scene. Because no DNA evidence was found to link the killer to the girl, and because nothing seized through search warrants tied the two together, prosecutors ultimately agreed to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for guilty pleas to murder charges in the deaths of both Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.
After Dumanis spoke Friday about accepting a deal which, in all likelihood, will result in a life sentence without the possibility of parole in lieu of a death sentence -- "a hollow promise" anyway, according to the DA -- Maurice "Moe" Dubois stepped forward to talk about his daughter's case.
Dubois first thanked the District Attorney's office for its diligence in prosecuting both cases and also extended his appreciation to law enforcement for their efforts. He then discussed how shocking the developments of the last 24 hours were since they learned of the turn in the case.
"As you can imagine, this turn of events in the case came as a surprise to us when we were informed about the details yesterday," Dubois said. "As a parent, I am thankful for the work put forth by the D.A.'s office and the defense team in coming forth with a resolution in the case and allowing us to have justice and closure for Amber's case."
Dubois concluded his remarks by thanking the community for the support it has offered to his family and the King family, and requested that the media and public grant them the time to heal.
"We ask that after today's press conference, you once again allow our families a bit of time to grieve, and we thank you for your understanding," Dubois said.
Gardner is due for sentencing on June 1. At that time, both families will be able to tell the court about their losses during victim impact statements.