Susan Levy's tragic ordeal finally comes to an end

McClatchy NewspapersNovember 22, 2010 

WASHINGTON — A jury on Monday delivered justice to Susan Levy. Peace will have to come in its own sweet time.

"There's always going to be a feeling of sadness," Levy said. "I can surely tell you, it ain't closure."

Levy was speaking less than an hour after a jury convicted Ingmar Guandique of two counts of first-degree felony murder, for the May 1, 2001 killing of Levy's daughter, Chandra.

Since trial began Oct. 25, Susan Levy has haunted the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse. Day after day, she arrived in the company of several allies and took her seat in the third row of Courtroom 320. She listened. She read, on occasion, when the legal wrangling became overly technical.

Levy had needed special permission from D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher to attend the entirety of the trial, because of the possibility that she might testify. In the end, though, she bore mute witness, neither testifying nor speaking to reporters during breaks.

Susan's husband, Robert, stayed home in Modesto, save for his one day on the witness stand Oct. 26. There, he did not cry even as he spoke of some intimate affairs. A physician, he explained that he had once helped obtain for his daughter a birth control prescription.

"She said it was for her complexion," he said.

Robert Levy's most impassioned moments occurred when he blurted out his animus toward former California congressman Gary Condit, who he had come to discover was sexually dallying with his daughter.

"I was suspicious of him ... he was a primary suspect in our minds," Robert Levy said, while the judge and an attorney tried to rein him back in.

One of the few times Susan Levy was not present in Courtroom 320 during the 11 days of testimony and statements was when a witness discussed her late daughter's bones.

Susan looked, in certain lights, to be ghost-white through the trial. She wore, though, some life-affirming fashions: a bright blue shirt one day, a wide-brimmed black hat another. Sometimes, she would talk on a cell phone in the hallway during a break.

Sometimes, she could be heard laughing.

Inside the courtroom, Susan did not show obvious signs of emotion. On Monday, though, her circulation seemed to be restored. She was wearing a butterfly pin on her lapel.

She closed her eyes a bit Monday morning, before the verdict was read, and then she seemed to stare, hard, at Guandique when the judgment came down. After a while, she came outside to where the television cameras waited, accompanied by attorney Jani Tillery of the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center.

Levy had written out a statement, which she read carefully, losing her place once or twice.

"Sorry, I'm emotional here," she said.

Levy spoke across a range of topics. She praised the work of victims' rights organizations. She thanked both the prosecutors and Guandique's defense team. She obliquely critiqued the press, saying she now understands why her daughter "gave up her press pass."

She quoted from D.C.'s poet laureate, Dolores Kendrick, and she offered some social prescriptions.

"You need to wake up and stop the violence," she said.

Maybe in the future, Levy said, she will be willing to talk at greater length about what she has gone through; but, for now, she would like to stop talking.

"Give me a little time, to find a new norm," Susan said.

(e-mail: mdoyle(at) < <



McClatchy Newspapers 2010

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