In a stunning legal reversal, federal prosecutors relented on Friday and set the stage for a new trial of the man convicted in 2010 of killing former intern Chandra Levy.
Acting just days before a series of high-stakes courtroom confrontations set to start next Tuesday, the prosecutors advised defense attorneys that they would no longer oppose a motion for a new trial for Ingmar Guandique.
“In preparing for this hearing, the government has come to the conclusion that the passage of time and the unique circumstances of this case will prevent the govemment from eliciting testimony that will sufficiently elucidate the disputed issues,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret J. Chriss wrote.
In a four-page legal filing made public late Friday afternoon, Chriss added that “the interests of justice will therefore best be served by the govemment's withdrawal of its opposition to the defendant's motion and affording him a new trial.”
If the judge grants the defense request, the prosecutors’ unexpected decision will return to the national spotlight a murder mystery that most thought had been long-since solved.
The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and its timing, also means defense attorneys won’t get to cross-examine the original trial prosecutor over her handling of a former Fresno gang leader whose testimony was crucial in Guandique’s conviction.
The testimony by former Fresno gang leader Armando Morales later became clouded by post-trial revelations about his previously undisclosed record of cooperating with law enforcement. In a long-anticipated hearing starting next Tuesday, Guandique’s attorneys were going to get their first shot at questioning Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines.