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Probation report cites predatory traits of suspect

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John Albert Gardner III appears in San Diego Superior Court on Tuesday March 9, 2010 in San Diego. John Albert Gardner III appears in San Diego Superior Court on Tuesday March 9, 2010 in San Diego.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A decade-old probation report on a sex offender accused of murdering California teenager Chelsea King contained a psychiatrist's conclusion that the defendant had "significant predatory traits" toward underage girls and should be kept in prison for as long as possible.

"The defendant does not suffer from a psychotic disorder," a probation officer quoted Dr. Matthew F. Carroll as saying for the report. "He is simply a bad guy who is inordinately interested in young girls."

Carroll further said John Albert Gardner III's "predilection toward younger girls is a problem. He manifests significant predatory traits and is a danger to the community," the officer wrote.

The report released by the San Diego County Superior Court on Tuesday was prepared in 2000 for the sentencing of the then-21-year-old Gardner after he pleaded guilty to committing lewd and lascivious acts on a 13-year-old neighbor girl who had skipped school. The victim was also punched repeatedly before escaping.

The probation officer recommended a so-called middle term of six years, reasoning in part that Gardner had no prior criminal record. A judge ordered the six-year term and Gardner served five before being paroled.

The report says Gardner moved to five different cities through his childhood and recounts the breakup of his parents when he was 5. It also details his work in construction, as a lifeguard, ride operator for four months at a Santa's Village theme park, and at a fast-food restaurant and sporting goods store.

Carroll expressed doubt of Gardner's claim of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that required up to 18 medications, noting he hadn't taken medications since age 16 but still had a 3.2 grade-point average in high school, had done well in life and had a relatively high IQ, the report said.

"Therefore, Dr. Carroll's conclusion is that the defendant is 'just a bad, bad kid,'" the officer wrote.

The report also noted that the psychiatrist was disturbed by a trespassing incident in which Gardner had been hanging around a high school, as well as a statement by Gardner that a purported fiancee had an abortion because she was afraid she couldn't raise the child by herself.

"This statement seems very odd to Dr. Carroll," the report said. "He finds pervasive oddness in this case."

A defense sentencing memorandum dismissed the mention of the high school incident, saying Gardner was a student there at the time, it was after hours and no charges were filed.

Gardner, 30, is now charged with murdering King, 17, of Poway, with a special circumstance of rape or attempted rape. She disappeared Feb. 25 and her presumed body was found March 2 buried in a park near the communities of Poway, Escondido and Rancho Bernardo north of San Diego.

Gardner is also charged with assaulting a woman in the same park in December with intent to rape, and is the focus of an investigation into the disappearance of 14-year-old Amber Dubois in early 2009 as she walked to school in Escondido. Her skeletal remains were found Saturday on an Indian reservation.

Judge David J. Danielsen ordered the redacted probation report to be made available.

Carroll has declined to talk publicly, but a colleague last week described his blunt warnings about Gardner and said Carroll had not wanted there to be any ambiguity about the assessment.

Gardner, whose mother lives in Rancho Bernardo, was arrested at an Escondido restaurant on Feb. 28. A state Justice Department spokeswoman said he was identified by DNA analysis of semen on a piece of King's clothing.

Gardner, who has pleaded not guilty to the current charges, was in court Tuesday as a judge pushed back the date of his preliminary hearing from March 18 to Aug. 4. A preliminary hearing is an initial examination of evidence so the judge can decide whether the case should proceed to trial.

The prosecution has vowed not to discuss the case outside of court, and Gardner's public defender has withheld all comment. Still, the judge also issued a gag order.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered authorities to retain all parole records on sex offenders after learning the files of Gardner had been destroyed last fall, just a year after he had completed three years of parole supervision.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation disclosed the documents had been destroyed in a response Friday to a records request by The Associated Press.

Department spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said 10,000 ex-convicts each month are placed on parole or released from parole. The system would be overwhelmed by paper records if it didn't shred them quickly, he said.

He also said portions of Gardner's parole records were transferred to his central file, which is kept for 30 years.

Officials were reviewing what they can release, considering legal privacy restrictions and the judge's gag order.

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Associated Press Writer Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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