Fourteen years ago, Chandra Levy went missing while jogging in Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C. A year later, her remains were found in that same park. She was 24.
Levy’s disappearance and death became headline news both because she was an intern with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and her romantic involvement with a married Congressman from California, 30 years her senior, Gary Condit.
It wasn’t until 2010 that a man was convicted of Chandra’s murder. His name is Ingmar Guandique, and he is currently serving a 60-year sentence in connection with her death. But now, he may be released while the courts try his case with a new judge and jury, and the prosecutors who helped convict him may be sanctioned, the Associated Press reported.
This retrial all comes down to one witness, Ingmar’s one-time cellmate Armando Morales, since he’s the only link he has to Chandra Levy.
New trial likely for man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy http://t.co/zRNUHN8dcl— The Guardian (@guardian) May 23, 2015
Though police discovered no forensic evidence, no eyewitnesses came forward, and no formal cause of death was given, a few other women joggers, like Levy, came forward saying they had also been assaulted in Rock Creek Park by Ingmar.
They testified against Chandra‘s purported killer and he was charged with her death while serving 10 years for attacking two women at knifepoint, the Los Angeles Times reported.
All it took for the prosecutors to close their case was Morales’ word. He said Guandique confessed to killing Chandra while high on drugs and in need of cash, the Washington Post added; Levy had a waist pouch on.
But public defense attorneys claim this testimony “was based on a lie.” Morales said his testimony regarding Chandra’s murder was his first time cooperating with prosecutors. It wasn’t. Transcripts between him and police in California emerged in 1998 and came to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s attention two years after Levy’s killer was put behind bars.
His defense team claims that the prosecution should’ve been aware that Armando had already been through this routine, in order to cement shorter sentences and other perks, and probed those prior contacts.
“It has been demonstrated that his testimony was false,” said one of these lawyers, Jon Anderson. “Without Morales. . .we don’t believe the government can prevail at trial.”
It’s not clear what sanctions his lawyers could put forth; one possibility is letting jurors in the new trial know that the prosecution previously held back evidence from the defense.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher set aside the 2010 verdict Thursday and called for a new trial with a new judge and jury; he presided over the first one that Chandra Levy’s family surely must have assumed would be an end to the intern’s tragic story.
However her mother, Susan, said that while a new trial will be painful, “true justice” should be done. The trial may take place late this year or next. Ingmar’s lawyers may argue for his release on bond.
[Photos Courtesy Greg Whitesell, Getty Images]