Courts & Crime

Guandique, man accused in Chanda Levy case, has handwriting date

WASHINGTON — The man accused of killing one-time intern Chandra Levy will put pen to paper Wednesday in a brief but potentially crucial release from his prison home.

Prosecutors say accused killer Ingmar Guandique was responsible for threatening letters sent to a potential witness. To help prove it, they will be compelling him to spend several hours copying out phrases while in the custody of a Washington, D.C. homicide detective.

"The goal is to get as complete a handwriting sample as you can," explained Emily Will, a Raleigh. N.C.-based forensic documents specialist. "They're going to have him write, then they're going to give him a break, then they're going to have write some more."

Will is not involved in the Levy investigation, but knows the standard procedures from her 22 years as a document examiner and expert witness.

Investigators will likely want Guandique to use the same kind of writing implement and the same kind of paper employed in the allegedly threatening letters. They will want him to write out similar words or phrases, copied from a typewritten page, and they will want him to write a lot.

"A lengthy sample makes it more difficult for anyone to maintain a (handwriting) disguise," Will noted.

The handwriting samples required a judge's order, releasing Guandique from the D.C. Department of Corrections to the

D.C. detectives between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Two days later, prosecutors and Guandique’s defense attorneys will convene for a Friday status conference as a D.C. Superior Court judge prepares for an October trial expected to last about four weeks. In some ways, the trial could turn on the witness Guandique is accused of threatening.

Guandique attempted to rob and sexually assault Levy in Washington’s Rock Creek Park and then murdered her on May 1, 2001, prosecutors say. At the time, Levy was reportedly about to return to California following conclusion of graduate studies and a Bureau of Prisons internship.

Levy was raised in Modesto, where her parents still live.

Guandique was raised in El Salvador, and entered the United States illegally. During court proceedings, he relies on an English-to-Spanish translator and his prison tattoos identify him as a member of the feared Salvadoran gang MS-13.Prosecutors have not explicitly stated whether the allegedly threatening letters are in Spanish or English, though

Guandique’s defense attorneys describe him as having “limited literacy skills and limited education.”

Four of the nine felony counts Guandique now faces revolve around the alleged threats against a witness.

According to prosecutors, sometime between May and September 2009 Guandique “wrote or caused to be written a note threatening to kill or have killed” a witness known so far only as “J.G.” The note further threatened to have J.G’s family killed if he cooperated with law enforcement.

One of Guandique’s prison allies reportedly conveyed the threatening note to J.G. on May 21, 2009. Other written documents, too, could be drawn into the trial, including letters Guandique purportedly wrote admitting to the Levy murder.

“What I think about what we spoke when we met, is that you are a good friend, because not everybody keeps to himself something like what I told you,” Guandique wrote one unnamed witness, according to a police affidavit.

Guandique’s defense attorneys, in turn, challenge the veracity of several jailhouse informants upon whom the prosecutors are relying.