SAN DIEGO—A judge sentenced the man who raped and murdered two San Diego County teenagers to serve three consecutive life terms.
The sentence means that John Albert Gardner III, 31, will die in prison.
Gardner pleaded guilty in April to raping and killing Chelsea King, 17, while she was jogging behind Rancho Bernardo Community Park. He buried her in a shallow grave on the shore of Lake Hodges. He also admitted raping and killing Amber Dubois, 14, who vanished while walking to Escondido High School in February 2009.
Before the sentencing, the families of the girls addressed the girls' killer in court.
Gardner, dressed in a green prison suit, said nothing during the sentencing hearing, mostly staring straight down at the table in front of him. He choked back sobs as tears rolled down his cheeks during the first victim statement. Later, as an emotional video about Amber Dubois was played, the killer wept openly, his shoulders quaking as tears streamed from his eyes.
Chelsea's father, Brent King, addressed Gardner in court, telling him he wanted him to live in fear every day of his life in prison.
"I know you think your time in prison will be hell on Earth,'' he said. "I hope you're right.''
"I want you to feel every day, every moment, the same fear Chelsea must have felt,'' King said. "Unlike you, Chelsea was no coward. I can assure you she showed more courage in her final moments than you showed in your entire life.''
Chelsea's mother, Kelly King, told Gardner "nothing, and no one, can save you.''
"Chelsea was a sweet, loving and innocent soul who could not have fathomed the wretched piece of evil that ended her life that day,'' she said. "... You have taken a life that was worth an infinite number of yours.''
When she began her statement, Kelly King told Gardner, "Look at me,'' and he did so, but only reluctantly. Later, she made the demand again, and when he refused to meet her gaze, she added, "Why am I not surprised?''
The Kings and Amber's parents both condemned a criminal justice system that allowed the defendant to remain free despite a previous conviction that forced him to register as a sex offender, and several run-ins with law enforcement after he was released from prison.
The Kings took it a step further by condemning Gardner's mother, Catherine Osborn, who lives in Rancho Bernardo, not far from where the defendant ambushed Chelsea during her after-school run. Osborn, a psychiatric nurse, knew what her son was capable of but did nothing to stop him, even after Amber disappeared while he was living in Escondido, Kelly King said.
"Your mother will always be intertwined with your horrific crimes because she did nothing,'' she said.
Osborn, sitting in the front row of the courtroom audience, remained still when the comments were made.
Carrie McGonigle, Amber's mother, said the "love and security has been ripped out of the life'' of her younger daughter.''
"You have taken my daughter and my best friend,'' McGonigle said. "You have taken my youngest daughter's role model and her innocence. You have taken a bright shining star from this community and our world, for what purpose? To serve your sick, twisted and perverted mind.''
Moncayo tearfully asked the judge "to make us a little safer by locking him up permanently.'' She said she had deep sympathy for the Dubois and King families.
"Their sacrifices are utterly unimaginable and truly there are no words to describe the depths of despair and sorrow we have all experienced because of this man,'' she said.
She got a rise out of the defendant by asking Gardner how his nose was, referencing the broken nose she gave him that allowed her to escape.
He looked up and cocked his head, then glared straight ahead with his lips turned down.
The hearing took place in a courtroom packed with family members, law enforcement and reporters. A nearby courtroom served as a staging area for television and radio stations that broadcast the sentencing live.