Ingmar Guandique, man convicted of killing Chandra Levy, gets new trial

The man convicted of killing Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy will get a new trial

The man who was convicted in the 2001 killing of Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy will receive a new trial, a judge ruled on Thursday.

Washington, D.C., Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher, who presided over the first trial, agreed on Thursday to grant Ingmar Guandique a retrial before a new judge and jury after concerns arose over a government witness at his previous trial.

Guandique was convicted in 2010 of killing Levy while she was running through Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., nine years earlier. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison. 

A new trial date has not been set, but the case was reassigned to Judge Robert E. Morin, and another hearing scheduled for next week. 

Guandique, a Salvadoran immigrant who was in the country illegally, was already serving a 10-year sentence when he was charged with Levy's murder in 2009. Police said Guandique had assaulted two other women at knifepoint in the same park around the same time that Levy vanished, and prosecutors said he killed Levy after attempting to sexually assault her while she was running on a remote trail in the park. 

Levy's disappearance and death sparked a national scandal after investigators discovered she was having an affair with then-Rep. Gary Condit. The California Democrat was married at the time, and was not forthcoming with police about the circumstances of the tryst. He was never formally identified as a suspect.

Much of the prosecution's case against Guandique relied on testimony from Armando Morales, Guandique's former cellmate. Morales said Guandique confessed to killing Levy, but contended he did not sexually assault Levy.

Prosecutors, however, did not tell Guandique's defense team that Morales had cooperated with prosecutors in previous cases to gain shorter sentences and other favorable treatment, according to a report in the Washington Post. Guandique's attorneys have argued that Morales fabricated Guandique's confession to curry favor with law enforcement.

Two years after Guandique was convicted, Fresno police contacted the U.S. attorney's office that prosecuted Guandique because they were trying to locate Morales. They had discovered transcripts of two interviews between investigators from the Fresno Sheriff's Office and Morales that were conducted in June 1998, according to a court filing. At that time, Morales was incarcerated in federal prison in Atlanta.

In a court filing, federal prosecutors said they "began an extensive examination of the potential issues" raised by the contents of the transcripts, and turned over that information to Guandique.

Last month, the government withdrew its opposition to a new trial, although prosecutors said they continue to believe the verdict was correct.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


8:59 a.m.: Updated with additional information about today's hearing.

8:50 a.m.: Updated with additional details from court filings.

This article was originally published at 7:45 a.m.