Washington, D.C. was rocked by the case of missing intern Chandra Levy in the spring of 2001. During the investigation it came to light that she had had an affair with then-Congressman Gary Condit, launching the story into national headlines. Chandra Levy's body wasn't found until a year later in the city's expansive Rock Creek Park. By that time Gary Condit's career had been ruined. He was never named a suspect, notes Reuters.
In 2009, Ingmar Guandique, who had recently been convicted for attacking two women in the same park, came to the attention of investigators. Tried and convicted for the murder of Chandra Levy, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison this past Friday, reports The New York Times. The prosecution had asked for life.
Why wasn't Ingmar Guandique sentenced to life in prison?
Every criminal statute lists a range of sentences for each crime--a maximum and minimum that also account for extenuating circumstances. Though a prosecutor can request a sentence, most criminal codes give judges the discretion to decide the final punishment.
During the sentencing phase of a trial, defendants have the constitutional right to present evidence of mitigating circumstances to help sway the judge. In death penalty cases they do so to a jury. Most often, defendants present evidence of remorse, their positive qualities, motives and personal history. The idea is to show that they are not a danger to society as a whole.
In the case of Chandra Levy, the judge's choice came down to whether Ingmar Guandique was "the worst of the worst." Though "close to that conclusion," the judge didn't "quite reach it," reports The New York Times.