Case Dismissed Against Man Once Convicted of Chandra Levy's Murder

Ingmar Guandique was convicted of Levy’s murder in 2010, but it was overturned.

ByABC News
July 28, 2016, 6:43 PM

— -- A man once convicted of the murder of Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy will not be retried, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia said today.

The U.S. Attorney's office moved to dismiss the case charging Ingmar Guandique with Levy's murder after the office concluded that "it can no longer prove the murder case against Mr. Guandique beyond a reasonable doubt." Judge Robert E. Morin issued an order today to dismiss without prejudice.

Guandique was convicted of Levy’s murder in 2010, but his conviction was later overturned. The U.S. Attorney's office said today it will not proceed with the retrial, saying that “recent unforeseen developments that were investigated over the past week led to this decision."

Susan, Chandra Levy’s mother, told ABC News she is “in a state of shock,” while the Metropolitan Police Department said it "will continue to pursue any new leads that are uncovered or brought to our attention.”

Levy's disappearance in May 2001 sparked a national scandal that dominated the headlines that summer.

Her remains were found the following year in a remote area of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.

Police focused their investigation on Guandique, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. Guandique was ultimately charged with Levy's murder in 2009.

In 2010, he was convicted of killing Levy while she was running through Rock Creek Park. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

But a key part of the prosecution's 2010 case against Guandique relied on testimony from Guandique's former cellmate. According to court papers, the cellmate said Guandique confessed to killing Levy. Last year, a judge granted Guandique a new trial because prosecutors failed to disclose that the cellmate had previous contacts with prosecutors in the case, and may have been testifying in hopes of getting a reduced sentence in his own case.

Guandique, who has been incarcerated while awaiting retrial, will, pending action by the Court, be "released to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he faces removal proceedings," the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Laura Hankins, general counsel for the Public Defender Service, said in a statement: "Mr. Guandique has maintained since the beginning, when he passed an FBI administered lie detector test, that he did not kill Ms. Levy. This dismissal vindicates Mr. Guandique. Finally, the government has had to concede the flaws in its ill-gotten conviction.

"In 2009 the trial prosecutors brought charges knowing their case depended on the most unreliable evidence: a jailhouse informant. In 2010 the trial prosecutors convinced a jury to convict by deliberately hiding evidence that would have exposed the false testimony of their star witness. It is now clear that the jailhouse informant, who was central to the government’s case, was a perjurer who too easily manipulated the prosecutors.

"Because the government hid the identity of the jailhouse informant from the defense until just before trial and failed to provide critical documents to the defense, it took years of post-conviction investigation and litigation by the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia to uncover the extent of the flaws in Mr. Guandique’s trial and to force the government to search and re-examine its own records.

"Justice would have been better and more timely served had the government provided open file discovery to the defense before the trial and if the government had fully investigated its own witnesses."

Levy was from the district of Rep. Gary Condit, D-California, and Condit reportedly helped her gain an internship at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. When Levy went missing, Condit became the focus of media attention. According to investigators at the time, Condit, a married man, admitted to authorities that he had an affair with Levy, but denied any connection to her disappearance. Condit was investigated, but never charged in connection with the case. He has never publicly acknowledged that the two were romantically involved.

Condit's attorney, L. Lin Wood, said in a statement Thursday, "Gary Condit was extremely disappointed to learn today that the prosecution has decided against a retrial of Ingmar Guandique, the individual previously found guilty of the murder of Chandra Levy. The failure of authorities to bring formal closure to this tragedy after 15 years is very disappointing but in no way alters the fact that Mr. Condit was long ago completely exonerated by authorities in connection with Ms. Levy's death."

ABC News' Mike Levine contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This story includes updates in the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Chandra Levy.