Man accused in Chandra Levy murder case was avid correspondent

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 2, 2010 

WASHINGTON — The man accused of killing one-time intern Chandra Levy is a prolific letter-writer whose words could come back to haunt him.

Now, prosecutors and defense attorneys are fighting over what are said to be "thousands of pages" of correspondence attributed to accused murderer Ingmar Guandique. The sheer volume provides hints about Guandique's life, while the letters themselves may eventually help determine his fate.

"As a result of these recent additional disclosures, there are approximately 18,000 pages of discovery in this case," Guandique's attorneys Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo noted in a recent legal filing. Discovery is what happens when attorneys gather as much information as they can get prior to trial. One perennial source of conflict occurs when defense attorneys ask prosecutors to turn over evidence collected by law enforcement.

In just the past two months, legal filings show, prosecutors provided defense attorneys at least 70 letters written by Guandique. Some appear to be lengthy; most were partially redacted before being given to the defense.

Law enforcement officers, for instance, reported collecting correspondence between Guandique and a woman identified so far only as "Rosalinda." At least one letter included a drawing by Guandique, who turns 29 this year.

Prosecutors haven't provided complete copies to Guandique's defense team.

"The government should not be permitted to be the architect of Mr. Guandique's defense by withholding entire pages of discovery," Sonenberg and Hawilo argued in their July 21 legal filing.

The two defense attorneys further complain that prosecutors "(have) not identified which of the thousands of pages of writings purported to come from Mr. Guandique it seeks to introduce at trial nor from where the various documents were obtained."

Legal filings itemize the documents, but have not yet made the content public.

Prosecutors, in turn, have underscored in court hearings how much information they have already provided the defense. Some of these conflicts between the defense and the two prosecutors, assistant U.S. attorneys Amanda Haines and Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, may be sorted out at a pre-trial hearing Aug. 20.

Guandique is currently scheduled to go on trial Oct. 4 for the 2001 murder of Levy. Prosecutors say he attacked Levy and attempted to sexually assault her in Washington's Rock Creek Park. Prosecutors also charge Guandique with threatening potential witnesses.

Raised in Modesto, where her parents still live, Levy had recently finished her graduate studies and a Bureau of Prisons internship when she disappeared May 1, 2001. Her skeletal remains were found a year later.

Levy's disappearance attained national notoriety following revelations that she had been having an affair with her hometown congressman, Gary Condit. Though he left Washington, D.C. following his reelection defeat in 2002,

Condit's name has been dragged into the discovery conflict.

"We have not seen any items recovered from Rock Creek Park (or) items recovered from Gary Condit's apartment," defense attorneys complained in a July 29 letter, which also cited other items they are still waiting to see.

A lot of other Guandique material, though, has already been conveyed to the defense team. Prosecutors, for instance, provided correspondence with the consular general of El Salvador as well as documents from Living Cross Ministries and the Crossroad Bible Institute, the latter of which serves prison inmates.

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