Chandra Levy Murder Conviction Based on a Lie, Defense Claims

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013 02:17 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Newly unsealed court documents from the decade-old Chandra Levy murder case show the prosecution's case was "predicated on a lie," claim defense attorneys who also attacked prosecutors for sitting on doubts about the credibility of one witness in the case.

Ingmar Guandique, a 30-year-old illegal Salvadoran immigrant, is serving a 60-year prison sentence for slaying Levy.

The Levy case rocketed to national attention after the 24-year-old intern at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons disappeared in 2001. At the time, Levy was reportedly involved in an affair with Gary Condit, a former Democrat congressman from California who was questioned in the matter. Condit denied any involvement in her disappearance and was ousted by voters, but the news media remain unusually interested in the case.

The 200 pages of highly edited transcripts of Guandique hearings and court documents recently went public, according to USA Today. Proceedings on Dec. 18, Jan. 4, and Feb. 7 had been sealed, against the wishes of the defense and the media. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher issued a protective order on the case in December because of "very substantial safety threats." He closed the hearings to the public and withdrew all documents.

The Associated Press, Gannett, McClatchy, The Washington Post, the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, and USA Today made requests to unseal the documents after the ruling. Finally, on Feb. 6, the records were made public, though in heavily redacted form because the safety order remains in effect.

Guandique's attorneys have asserted the documents are meant to be public.

"Mr. Guandique and the public have a right to know precisely what happened at Mr. Guandique's trial and why the government allowed its prosecution to be predicated on a lie,'' one lawyer wrote in court documents opposing the sealing of the transcripts in December.

"I think we're being jerked around,'' another attorney said.

It has been more than two years since Guandique was convicted of the decade-old murder, but details surrounding the case continue to emerge. He was convicted after making a jailhouse confession. Guandique was then serving a sentence for attacking two other women in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., the same place where investigators found Levy's decomposed remains in 2002.

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