Friday afternoon brought big and unexpected news from the downtown courthouse: John Albert Gardner III pleaded guilty to the murders of North County teens Amber Dubois and Chelsea King. In return, he’ll serve life in prison and avoid the death penalty.

USD law professor Shaun Martin gives a revealing quote to the U-T: “I have no doubt that if the parents were opposed to the deal, the prosecutor wouldn’t have done it. If there’s one thing you don’t want as a prosecutor, it’s a victim’s family saying you didn’t do your job.”

It turns out that the parents of both girls do support the plea bargain deal. And, as the U-T reports, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said “there wasn’t evidence to charge Gardner with Amber’s slaying.”

There are more details: “She said Gardner waived all rights of appeal. She said that on March 5 Gardner led authorities to Amber’s body after prosecutors promised not to use that information against him in court.”

For now, the NCT says, Gardner is in a one-man room in the downtown jail. “Authorities said they placed him there for his own protection and so they could monitor his well-being.”

The NCT reports that a man who helped raise Amber Dubois “endured countless hours of police interrogation.” He said her mother, the paper reports, “became suspicious that perhaps he was responsible for Amber’s disappearance.”

In other news:

  • Five million users? Not bad. In fact, for a Cardiff company that produces an iPhone application that warns drivers of speed traps and red-light cameras, makes them one of the most popular apps out there.

    In this weekend’s Q&A, Trapster’s Pete Tenereillo talks to us about motorist solidarity, the motives of Trapster users, and the thoughts of his critics, including one who became a supporter after getting a couple red-light tickets downtown.

    “He’s a multimillionaire. For him, it didn’t hurt him that bad. But some people would not be paying rent, not buying their kids Christmas presents,” Tenereillo said. “Nine-hundred-and-sixty dollars is a huge, huge, thing and so if we can help consumers to avoid those kind of fees, and also get them to not run the red light, then there’s a good example of how it helps.”

  • The Photo of the Day is a preview of an upcoming People at Work article. What’s the story about? Let’s take a pole. (No, that’s not a typo.)


  • You might think we’re more of an avocado town, but San Diegans really like their Apples, Fortune reports: “San Diego-area residents are 42% more likely than the average American to be toting around an iPod, chatting on an iPhone or computing on a Mac.” We’re the third biggest user of Apple products after the Bay Area and Boston.

What We’ve Learned This Week:

We Pay, They Save: We revealed how the city of San Diego’s water department subsidizes reclaimed water that it sells to other communities.

Essentially, the city pays more to produce the water than it sells it for, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Dollar to Save:: It’s official. You’re going to be paying a lot more for water.

The Bayfront Project Is Dead. Long Live the Bayfront Project!: The state Coastal Commission said no, but the city plans to bring back a revised version of its $228 million plan. (U-T)

UCSD’s Prized Poet: Writing professor Rae Armantrout, who’s been described as a “poet of supreme concision,” won a Pulitzer Prize. (NYT)

Short Shrift in Sheriff Race: The son of a former sheriff is getting little financial support from the union he led, but other law enforcement groups are stepping in to try and pick up the slack.

Blondes Don’t Have More … Arrests: In response to readers, we take a unique look at crime statistics.

Just Checking:

False. And also: False. If you’re scoring at home (and here’s hoping you are), the Fact Check blog found a couple non-truths in public statements this week.

We looked at the U-T (over a botched description of a land appraisal) and the mayor (who said fire personnel have been laid off).

The Coffee Collection (stories to read over a cup of java):

Expelled into Regular School: San Diego charter schools have more power to expel problem students than regular schools do. Guess where they often end up.

He Was Tops at Tools: The man behind the Pat’s Tools store in El Cajon “knew what every tool was for. I’ve never seen him stumped,” said a friend. Our obituary remembers Billy Gene Medcalf.

The Clash of Political Dynasties: The race for City Council District 8 pits members of two South Bay family dynasties against each other. Will their name recognition be enough to woo voters? Or will the non-Hueso, non-Inzunza candidates have a chance at the prize?

Revisiting the Schoobrary After the Earthquake: Private schools, preschools and charter schools don’t have to follow state regulations regarding the earthquake safety of schools. (That’s charter schools like, say, the one that may be built downtown as part of the library/school project.) “Stupid,” says a school board member. But is it?

Quote of the Week: “We are working hard to clean the vice out of our town, but at the same time, we must be honest with ourselves about it. You cannot cover the moon with a finger.” — the head of a Tijuana tourist bureau, quoted in a 1960 Los Angeles newspaper article reprinted this week.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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