The defense team in the Chandra Levy murder case has petitioned a D.C. Superior Court judge to overturn the guilty verdict for Ingmar Guandique.
The defense argues that prosecutors illegally withheld evidence regarding a witness from them during the murder trial in 2010.
The motion for a new trial is the latest saga in one of the most mediatized and controversial murder cases in recent history, one that many wrongly thought involved a U.S. congressman. Guandique, 30, who had entered the United States illegally, was convicted of two counts of first degree murder in D.C. Superior Court in 2010 after an eight-week-long trial. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
According to an undisclosed source cited in the Washington Post, Guandique’s defense attorneys say that prosecutors in California, where the witness was from, communicated information about the witness to prosecutors in Washington.
The D.C. Superior Court in question has acknowledged that the proceedings, which remain secret, are taking place.
A group of media interests, including the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and Gannett, have filed a motion for access to the proceedings, citing First Amendment rights.
“If that access is restricted, so, too, are [the media's] abilities to report developments in this case, which implicate significant matters of public interest regarding the administration of justice, the integrity and efficiency of criminal investigations and prosecutions, the safety of District of Columbia residents and visitors, and the conduct of government officials,” the motion filed on behalf of the media interests said.
Guandique’s defense counsel, Julia Leighton of the District of Columbia’s public defense office, would not comment on the case. “We object to the protective order issued by Judge Fisher in this case, which prevents us from discussing the current proceedings, but so long as it is in place we have and will continue to have no comment,” Leighton said in a statement.
The case originally attracted widespread coverage in the national media in the wake of Chandra Levy’s disappearance in May 2001, who was last seen at a sports club, when it was disclosed that she was having an affair with then U.S. Congressman Gary Condit.
However, Condit was never a suspect in the case, nor was he ever involved with what was later declared a murder after Chandra Levy’s remains were found a few miles from her home in Washington D.C.-area park. However, Condit was not reelected to Congress in a 2002 election.
Guandique, who could not produce an alibi and did not report to work on the day of Chandra Levy’s disappearance, was convicted on circumstantial evidence. He was already serving a sentence in a Federal prison for battery of two other women in Rock Creek Park, where Chandra’s remains were found, when Guandique’s former cellmate served as a witness claiming that Guandique had confessed to Chandra Levy’s murder.