Sex offender John Albert Gardner III's surprise admission that he took the lives of San Diego-area teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois saved his own, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gardner avoided the death penalty but agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison in striking a deal with prosecutors that allowed them to link him to Amber's death for the first time. He still could have faced the death penalty for Chelsea's murder, but prosecutors and the girls' families agreed to the plea deal to bring closure to Amber's case.
“To end the anguish of the unknown for the Dubois family and to bring Amber home, we agreed we would not use this information against Gardner in court,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. She said authorities worked to find another way to tie Gardner to Amber's death Feb. 13, 2009, but could not. “By accepting this guilty plea, we are obtaining a conviction for the murder of Amber that we otherwise would not have been able to obtain,” Dumanis said. “Accepting this plea has been an extremely difficult decision. We have the evidence to pursue a murder charge against the defendant for Chelsea's murder, but not for Amber's murder.” Dumanis described California's death penalty as “a hollow promise” that, if imposed, would cause the King family to endure a trial, years of appeals and “the pain of reliving the murder over and over again.”