Man convicted in Chandra Levy killing to be sentenced

Truth Vibrations

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-- Ingmar Guandique, who was found guilty of murder in the 2001 death of Washington intern Chandra Levy, will be sentenced in D.C. Superior Court on Friday morning.

Levy, a 24-year-old California native, was in Washington working as an intern for the Bureau of Prisons when she was last seen on May 1, 2001. Her skull was found over a year later, on May 22, 2002, in Washington's Rock Creek Park.

But police didn't arrest Guandique until February 2009. He had been serving a 10-year sentence for attacking two other women in the park and had reportedly spoken about killing Levy.

Following an 11-day trial, jurors deliberated for three days in November before finding him guilty of one count of murder with kidnapping and a second count of murder with attempted robbery.

"We were very careful to evaluate all the evidence, and it was a decision based on everything we had," said juror Susan Kelly, a journalist.

Guandique faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

But regardless of the sentence Guandique is given,"I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree," Levy's mother, Susan, said in November after the verdict. "It's painful. I live with it every day. ... There's always going to be a feeling of sadness."

Prosecutors argued that Guandique, a reputed member of the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha, attacked Levy while she was jogging in Washington's Rock Creek Park.

After her skull was found, a search turned up other remains of Levy's, as well as clothing later identified as hers strewn down the side of a ravine. Her running shoes were unlaced, and her clothes were turned inside out. Her pants were knotted in tight restraints around her legs.

Prosecutor Amanda Haines, during her closing argument, cited what she portrayed as confessions that Guandique allegedly made to a cellmate as he served time for other attacks, as well as remarks he allegedly made to a female pen pal.

Defense attorney Santha Sonenberg emphasized the largely circumstantial nature of the case, including what prosecutors have acknowledged was a lack of DNA evidence, a lack of witnesses and only secondhand accounts of Guandique's alleged confessions.

Both the women who Guandique also attacked in the park, including one on the same day Levy went missing, spoke at the trial -- testimony that Kelly called "powerful." He had pleaded guilty for his role in those attacks, and was set to be released in September 2010.

The disappearance of Levy drew national attention after her parents discovered a connection with Gary Condit, who was then a sitting congressman from California. Condit was never a suspect in the case, but he was questioned intensively for details about Levy's whereabouts.

He testified in the trial, but refused to address a question about whether he had sex with Levy. An FBI forensic expert later confirmed Condit's semen had been found in underwear retrieved from Levy's apartment in the days after her parents reported her missing.

"We've lost our feeling for common decency. I didn't commit any crime. I didn't do anything wrong," he said.

Condit said several times during his testimony that the media frenzy surrounding Levy's disappearance was hard to handle, including a helicopter flight over his California home while his daughter and her friends were sunbathing at the family's pool.

"They reported that I had young women in bikinis at my house," he said.


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I am glad that they finally convicted somebody in this case, let's just hope they did get the right guy. I just don't put much stock in jailhouse rumors of he said, she said. There isn't any other viable evidence that really ties him to the crime other than that.