Killer of Amber DuBois, Chelsea King Sentenced to Three Life Terms With No Parole

John Gardner sentenced to three life sentences without parole in teen murders.

BySarah Netter and Brian Braiker via via logo
May 05, 2010, 2:30 PM

May 14, 2010— -- John Gardner, a 31-year-old sex offender convicted of killing two teenage girls in San Diego County, was given three consecutive life sentences without parole after his victims' families confronted him in court for his crimes.

Gardner reached a plea deal last month that spared him a possible death penalty. He admitted to the rape and murders of Amber Dubois, 14, and 17-year-old Chelsea King.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to rape Candice Moncayo, a 22-year-old jogger, near the spot where he attacked Chelsea.

With his head bowed -- tears staining his kelly green prison garb -- a seated and shackled Gardner occasionally contorted his face uncomfortably throughout today's hourlong sentencing hearing.

Before Gardner was sentenced, members of the girls' families took turns telling him to what he had done to -- and taken from -- them.

"You took a bright shining star from this community, and for what purpose? To serve your sick, twisted mind," Carrie McGonigle, the mother of slain Amber Dubois, told Gardner. "I am confident that you will never make it to heaven."

"I hope you suffer 100 times the amount of pain that we have suffered because of your crimes," said Amber's father, Maurice Dubois.

The court also played video testimonials to the lives of the murdered girls. Gardner did not appear to look up at the screen once.

Afterward, Chelsea's father, Brent King, told Gardner: "Since I learned of your arrest for Chelsea's murder, I have refused to speak your name. I have called you monster, sociopath, serial killer and animal."

But, he added, "names like 'monster' and 'animal' in a perverse way let you off the hook. You knew what you were doing."

Kelly King, Chelsea's mother, broke off in the middle of her prepared remarks to command Gardner: "Look at me!"

When he didn't, she asked, "Why am I not surprised?

Earlier in the day DuBois' mother said that a face-to-face meeting with her daughter's killer just days earlier gave her the closure she was looking for.

"I really have closure," Carrie McGonigle told ABC's San Diego affiliate KGTV. "I really do. Yeah, and it's 15 months today [since Amber's disappearance] and ... I can sleep at nights."

McGonigle petitioned to meet with Gardner for weeks, saying she couldn't properly prepare her victim's impact statement without getting answers about her daughter's final hours.

DuBois was killed shortly after being abducted on her way to school in February 2009. King was attacked and killed several days later.

McGonigle has said she will keep the details of her 30-minute conversation with Gardner to herself to spare other family members the pain, but that he seemed nervous and respectful.

She told KGTV that she did have some apprehension about today's court statements, only because she didn't want to give Gardner the satisfaction of seeing the pain he caused.

"Any of these people that, you know, go around murdering children; murdering adults. I mean, to hear that they made the whole family suffer ... [if] they're sick enough to do what they do, then why wouldn't it give them pleasure to hear how they hurt the family?" she asked.

Amber's father, who told earlier this month that he feared such a meeting with Gardner could jeopardize his guilty plea, had no desire to speak with him.

Confronting a Killer

King's parents remained tight-lipped ahead of sentencing. King disappeared while jogging on Feb. 25. Her body was found five days later.

"They're keeping their feelings private," a spokeswoman said. "They'll speak at the sentencing and that's where they're focused."

Desperate to meet with Gardner, McGonigle confronted his mother on Tuesday, asking his mom to give up her visiting time so McGonigle could see him instead. Gardner's mother tearfully refused.

McGonigle got a call Wednesday afternoon saying she could meet with Gardner. She rushed to San Diego's Central Jail, according to KGTV.

She told ABC News last week that she wanted to know how Gardner got her while she walked to school and why.

"The last hour of her life was spent with this freak," McGonigle said. "If I get some of my questions answered I'll be a lot better."

"I don't want to know gory details. I don't want to know if she suffered," she said. "I don't want to hear if she cried for me."

Gardner, a convicted sex offender, has said in a jailhouse interview that he carried out the attacks during a "major rage."

"I was aware of what I was doing, but I could not stop myself," he said in a jailhouse interview with San Diego television station KFMB. "I was in a major rage and pissed off -- pissed off at my whole life and everybody that's hurt me and blew up, and I hurt the wrong people."

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