Criminal Justice

9 Years Later, Trial Begins in Death of Chandra Levy

Jury selection began today in the case of the slaying of Chandra Levy, who at the time of her disappearance on May 1, 2001, was a 24-year-old intern with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Her body was found in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., one year later.

On trial is 29-year-old Ingmar Guandique, who is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault, reports the Washington Post’s blog The Crime Scene. Guandique is a member of the MS-13 gang, the blog says, and one of the questions on the jurors’ questionnaire asks for opinions about gang affiliation.

Guandique is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for two knife attacks on women in Rock Creek Park, one of whom was an antitrust lawyer for Arnold & Porter when she was attacked July 1, 2001.

Last week, defense attorneys revealed at a hearing that Washington, D.C., law enforcement officers impersonated a Latina woman and wrote Guandique letters in prison in hopes he would confess to being involved with Levy’s slaying, the Washington Post reported. Lead defense attorney Santha Sonenberg asked Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher to dismiss the first-degree murder charges against Guandique because police contacted him without going through his attorneys. Fisher said he would review the defense assertions but wouldn’t dismiss the charges, the post reported.

Prosecutor Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez defended the letters to the Post, saying they were not “illegal, unethical or improper.” He did not say whether his office was involved in writing them.

Guandique never acknowledged any involvement in Levy’s murder in the letters he wrote in response to those from “Maria Lopez” between 2004 and 2005.

Investigators probing the death of Levy nearly eight years ago at first focused on then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit because he was having an affair with the intern.

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