Life sentence sought for accused killer of Chandra Levy

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 16, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that they will seek life imprisonment without possibility of parole for the man accused of murdering former intern Chandra Levy.

The potential sentence is the most severe available in the District of Columbia, which does not have the death penalty. Prosecutors publicly confirmed their intentions at a court hearing where they also acknowledged they don't have blood or semen evidence implicating the accused man, Ingmar Guandique.

"No DNA has linked Mr. Guandique to the items collected at the crime scene," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, adding without elaboration that "we have a very good explanation for why that is."

The only DNA found on Levy's clothing was residue left from a female lab analyst, Campoamor-Sanchez told D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin. After failing Friday to secure a four-week delay, Guandique's attorneys said they will now secure an independent laboratory testing of Levy's bra, underwear, tights and other clothing.

"They're trying to find out if they can find someone else's DNA," Alprin mused.

Raised in Modesto, Calif., where her parents still live, the 24-year-old Levy had recently completed her Bureau of Prisons internship when she was last seen alive on April 30, 2001. Her disappearance in Washington eventually brought to light her past relationship with then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., whose political career subsequently collapsed.

Levy's skeletal remains were found in Washington's Rock Creek Park in May 2002. Guandique was already serving a 10-year federal sentence for attacking two other women in Rock Creek Park in 2001 when prosecutors charged him in March 2009 with Levy's murder.

The prosecution spells out a circumstantial case in court documents, with heavy reliance on prison informants. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are battling over whether the informants' testimony, some of it very contradictory, can be admitted in the trial set to begin Jan. 27.

"Guandique said that he was in the park and saw her go by, and that she had a jogger's pouch with her," one unnamed prison informant claims, in new court filings. "He decided to rob her, and he hid in some shrubs and decided she was not going to get away from him, because the others had gotten away from him.

"As she passed by him he ran behind her, grabbed her by the neck with his arm and dragged her into the shrubs," this informant further stated. "According to Guandique, as he was dragging her away she was fighting him. However, by the time he got her a long way from the trail she was not responsive. He took her jogger's pouch and left."

Other prison informants, though, recount very different versions, and prosecutors believe Levy's killer intended to rape her and restrained her legs with her tights. Defense attorneys are challenging the inmate accounts as inherently flawed.

"Virtually the entire government's case against Mr. Guandique ... rests on cooperating informant testimony by convicted felons," a recent defense filing notes.

One informant says Guandique told him that he and "three other persons raped and killed" Levy. A second informant claims Guandique told him that a stranger stopped him on the street and offered him "$25,000 to kill a girl, and the man gave Guandique her picture and told him where to find her."

A third informant claims Guandique told him a friend received a letter from California with a photo of Levy and a declaration that she needed "to be killed but not raped," because Levy "was making life impossible for prisoners in California."

Prosecutors contend in new legal filings that Guandique tailors his stories "to impress his audience and what he perceives will most likely impress" them.

McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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