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New Trial in Chandra Levy Murder Case

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 26, 2015 3:54 PM

Five years ago, a jury convicted Ingmar Guandique for the murder of Chandra Levy. It now appears that a new jury will re-hear the case.

Federal prosecutors have dropped their opposition to Gaundique's defense attorneys' requests for a new trial, paving the way for the case to return to court. Now the judge who presided over the first trial will decide if there will be a second.

Tainted Testimony

Guandique's lawyers have been challenging his conviction based on what they believe is corrupted testimony from Armando Morales, Gaundique's former cellmate. Morales told investigators Guandique confessed to killing Levy in Rock Creek Park for drug money, and testified as such during the murder trial.

Attorneys from the District of Columbia's Public Defender Service contend prosecutors should've disclosed Morales had been cooperating with them in other cases. Guandique's attorneys could have used that information at trial to attack the credibility of Morales's testimony, which they say he fabricated to gain favor with prosecutors.

The alleged jailhouse confession was a key piece of the government's case, which Judge Gerald I. Fisher noted "wasn't a very strong" during Guandique's sentencing. While other women joggers testified they had been assaulted by him in Rock Creek Park around the time of Levy's disappearance, there was no forensic evidence linking Guandique to the crime scene, no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses, and no definitive ruling as to Levy's cause of death.

Old Case, New Jury

While conviction appeals based on biased witness testimony are common, new trials based on the same are relatively rare. And even though prosecutors opted to stop fighting the defense request, it remains to be seen whether Judge Fisher will grant a new trial.

Levy disappeared in 2001, and her remains were found in Rock Creek Park a year later. Her case garnered national media attention, due to her parents' "bring Chandra home" campaign and the revelation she had been having an affair with Gary Condit, a married congressman from Levy's home district in California.

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