Key Hearing Today in Jaycee Dugard Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Bay Area couple accused of abducting and raping Jaycee Lee Dugard were back in court in Placerville Thursday.

    Phillip and Nancy Garrido have already been indicted on 18 felony charges connected to Dugard's kidnapping

    Dugard was abducted as a girl from the Lake Tahoe area nearly 20 years ago. Authorities allege that Phillip Garrido fathered two children with Dugard, who was allegedly forced to live in the back yard of his Antioch home for years. 

    On Thursday, an El Dorado County judge scheduled a two-week hearing for March to consider if the man accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard is competent to face trial.    

    Judge Douglas Phimister said he didn't want to delay Phillip Garrido's trial, but court-appointed psychiatrists needed time to evaluate the defendant.

    One of the things on the legal agenda Thursday is a ruling from the judge on a request to unseal a grand jury transcript in the case. Dugard testified in September before the grand jury in secret. Her lawyer, Steve Tapson, filed a motion this week objecting to the transcript being unsealed and made public. He argued that pre-trial publicity could affect his client's ability to get a fair trial. "Nowhere in my experience have I encountered the amount of publicity as in this case," Tapson stated in a court document. Tapson stated that in all his years in criminal law, he has not seen "a transcript that describes evil as it is contained in the grand jury transcript."  In the end, the judge delayed a decision on the matter.

    Prosecutors have said there will not be a preliminary hearing in the case, because they want to spare Dugard's family from having to take the witness stand until the criminal trial.

    A competency hearing for Phillip Garrido is also expected Thursday to determine if he's mentally fit to stand trial.

    Dugard and her two children have been living in seclusion since her freedom.  She's writing a book and the entire family has received extensive counseling to help them learn how to deal the trauma of being held captive for all those years.