Ingmar Guandique’s attorneys move to have conviction overturned in Levy case

Attorneys for the man convicted of the 2001 killing of former congressional intern Chandra Levy officially filed a motion with a D.C. Superior Court judge Tuesday requesting a new trial.

Attorneys with the D.C. Public Defender Service, on behalf of their client, Ingmar Guandique, argued in their court filing that during Guandique’s 2010 trial, prosecutors either withheld information that one of their key witnesses lied during the trial about cooperating with other prosecutors in other cases in exchange for benefits, or that prosecutors should have known about the witness’s background.

The witness, Armando Morales, testified during the trial that when he and Guandique were prison cellmates, Guandique admitted to him that he killed Levy. Morales also testified that he had never cooperated with prosecutors in other cases in hopes of seeking favor from authorities.

Guandique and his attorneys at the time repeatedly said that Guandique was not involved in Levy’s death.

Two years after Guandique, 31, was sentenced to 60 years in prison, defense attorneys learned that Morales may have cooperated in other cases.

In their filing, Guandique’s attorneys argued that his conviction must be overturned because it was obtained “through false evidence.”

Since last year, during a series of often-contentious hearings, Guandique’s attorneys have squared off with prosecutors in hopes of gathering information about Morales and securing a new trial for Guandique.

Prosecutors oppose the request and maintain that Guandique was Levy’s killer and say that witnesses other than Morales also linked Guandique to Levy's killing.

“It is premature to cast doubt on Mr. Morales’s credibility before he has an opportunity to address the defense’s speculation and conjecture,” William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said in a statement. “The fact remains that Mr. Morales, who testified about Mr. Guandique’s confession to murdering Chandra Levy, never asked for or received any benefit for his testimony in this case. Regarding the conduct of the veteran prosecutors in this case, we will respond to defense counsel’s baseless allegations through our court filings.”

It was prosecutors who alerted the judge two years ago as to Morales’s background. Morales is expected to testify and address the allegations.

Additional hearings in the case are scheduled before Fisher in October.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.
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