Prosecutors seek life without parole for Chandra Levy's killer

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 8, 2011 

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence without possibility of parole for the man convicted of killing Chandra Levy.

In an 18-page sentencing memo, prosecutors this week call convicted killer Ingmar Guandique a "grave danger to the community" who committed myriad other crimes beyond murdering Levy in 2001.

"Mr. Guandique has exhibited predatory behavior that seems incapable of rehabilitation," the sentencing memo states, adding that Guandique "expresses no remorse (and) refuses to accept responsibility for his criminal behavior."

A jury in November convicted Guandique of killing Levy while she was walking or jogging in a heavily wooded Washington park. Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher is scheduled to sentence Guandique on Friday.

Fisher on Friday may first have to resolve a defense motion for a new trial, before gets to sentencing. Guandique's defense attorneys say a prosecutor went too far in her closing argument, and also contend jurors may have improperly shared notes during deliberations.

"The repeated occurrences of this misconduct, particularly the speculation on matters outside the evidence and pleas for sympathy for (Levy), infected the entire closing," attorneys Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo stated in their own legal filing.

The request for a new trial, even if it is rejected, could still postpone the sentencing date beyond Friday.

For his convictions on two counts of felony murder, committed during an attempted robbery, Guandique faces sentences that could range from 30 years to life. Though the District of Columbia does not authorize the death penalty, prosecutors are stressing they want the strictest permissible punishment.

"Unfortunately, Ms. Levy's murder is just one example, among many, of (Guandique's) dangerousness and his capacity for violence against women," the prosecutors state.

Citing Guandique's "predilection to taunt and terrorize women," the prosecutors argue that the illegal Salvadoran immigrant "is and will always continue to be" a threat to others.

As evidence, assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Haines and Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez attached Guandique's prison disciplinary reports, photos and accounts from additional victims to accompany the sentencing memo.

Some of the information cited arose during last year's trial, including accounts of two female joggers who Guandique admitted to attacking in Washington's Rock Creek Park. This was the same park where Levy died, shortly before she was scheduled to return to California.

Levy was raised in Modesto, where her parents still live. Her mother, Susan Levy, is currently scheduled to appear at the sentencing hearing, to provide a crime victim's impact statement for consideration by the judge.

But in their sentencing memo, prosecutors also had more leeway to present information that jurors never heard during the 10 days of testimony. This includes allegations that "Guandique's attacks upon women did not begin in Rock Creek Park," but rather began in his native El Salvador.

"(Guandique) fled El Salvador because he was suspected of attacking a woman at knife point on an isolated trail in the village of Cooperativa San Jacinto," prosecutors state.

In a previously undisclosed part of their investigation, prosecutors say Campoamor-Sanchez and a D.C. detective met in El Salvador with a woman they identify only as "Gloria." This witness contends Guandique attacked her in 1999, and also contends other villagers thought Guandique may have raped and killed a local girl.

In another, previously undisclosed episode, prosecutors claim villagers raised money to send Guandique to the United States for fear that another family might retaliate against him for a stabbing he was involved with.

McClatchy Newspapers 2010

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