A Chandra Levy witness may be discredited, according to a judge who spoke Thursday at the end of a hearing in the controversial case of the 23-year-old intern who was murdered in 2001. A series of closed hearings has been conducted recently to re-examine the conviction of Ingmar Guandique, a Salvadoran immigrant, who was found guilty in 2010 and ultimately sentenced to 60 years in federal prison.
The murder became a federal case because it was committed in the District of Columbia.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher repeated on Thursday that the hearings have been closed because of security concerns.
In 2001, when investigators discovered that 53-year-old Congressman Gary Condit (D-CA) was having an affair with Levy, a media firestorm exploded. Tried in the court of public opinion, Condit was voted out of office in 2002.
Ironically, Ingmar Guandique had already been caught and convicted for attacking other women in the same Rock Creek Park area in May 2001. However, the focus on Condit, combined with the fact that Levy’s body wasn’t discovered until 2002, led to a series of mis-steps in the case. Years passed before Guandique was brought to trial in her case.
After Thursday’s meeting with government lawyers, Fisher said that the testimony of Guandique’s former cellmate, Armando Morales, might not be creditable. Morales testified in 2010 that Guandique had confessed the killing to him while they were both jailed together.
However, Morales isn’t the only Chandra Levy witness who said that Guandique hinted at his guilt. A penpal, Maria Mendez, testified that he’d written her that he was in jail because of “a dead girl,” frightening her enough that she decided to stop exchanging letters with him.
Guandique attorney Jonathan Anderson has also requested a copy of a 911 call made from Levy’s apartment building on the morning she vanished, which allegedly contains a “blood-curdling” scream. The police at the time said that the call was unrelated to the case and that they had found that Levy had used her computer for hours after the call.
If the Chandra Levy witness testimony gets tossed out, what’s next? For now, it isn’t clear, but another hearing has been scheduled for May.
[police car lights photo Benchill via Wikipedia Commons]