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Couple admit Jaycee's 1991 kidnap

A convicted sex offender and his wife have pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a California girl in a surprise plea deal that will spare their victim and the two daughters she had during her 18 years of captivity from taking the stand at a trial.

Under the hastily-negotiated agreement, Phillip and Nancy Garrido are likely to spend the rest of their lives in prison after abducting Jaycee Dugard in 1991 and keeping her in a back garden compound of tents and sheds.

"I'm relieved that Phillip and Nancy Garrido have finally acknowledged their guilt and confessed to their crimes against me and my family," Miss Dugard said in a statement released by her spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer.

Phillip Garrido, 60, faces a maximum sentence of 431 years to life in prison after entering guilty pleas to 14 kidnapping and sexual assault charges, including six counts of rape and seven counts of committing lewd acts captured on video.

His wife, 55, who originally faced the same charges as her husband and a sentence of 181 years to life, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of rape. She faces a maximum sentence of 36 years to life.

El Dorado County district attorney Vern Pierson credited 30-year-old Miss Dugard's willingness to relive her harrowing experience in court with producing the guilty pleas.

He said when he spoke to Miss Dugard on Wednesday, "she expressed again, she was ready, willing and able, if called, to testify".

"But I think there's also, as a mother, the practical reality of it, should her children be called and dragged into all of this, was something that I don't think any mother in her right mind would want to see happen," Mr Pierson added.

Both defendants waived their right to appeal and will be sentenced on June 2.

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