Jury set for Levy murder trial; one man gets heat over tweet

As Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of killing federal intern Chandra Levy nearly a decade ago, The Washington Post's Keith Alexander outlines the upcoming trial and his exclusive interview with Levy's parents.
By Keith L. Alexander and Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 22, 2010; 10:40 PM

Twelve women and four men were chosen to decide whether police and prosecutors have charged the right man in the slaying of Chandra Levy.

On Friday, attorneys finalized the panel, clearing the way for opening statements Monday.

It took the attorneys about 45 minutes to pick the 12 jurors and four alternates from a pool of 40 prospective panelists. The ethnic makeup of the jury appears to be six African Americans, one Asian American and nine whites.

Ingmar Guandique, 29, is charged with six counts, including first-degree murder, in the slaying of the 24-year-old intern in 2001.

He sat next to his defense attorneys, Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo, as they, along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Haines and Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, chose jurors they wanted and dismissed others. They based their choices on the questions each juror answered earlier in the week.

Levy's disappearance gripped the region and the country, especially after the federal government intern's affair with then-Rep. Gary A. Condit became public.

Friday's jury selection got off to a difficult start.

Before the prospective jurors were admitted into Courtroom 320, Sonenberg told Judge Gerald Fisher that one of those in the jury pool had sent a message via Twitter earlier in the week after being interviewed by the attorneys.

Sonenberg said the juror, who later was identified as Juror No. 269, wrote in his tweet: "Guilty. Guilty. I say no. I will not be swayed. Practicing for jury duty."

Sonenberg asked that the juror be questioned by the judge. The conversation was inaudible to those in the courtroom.

After a 10-minute conversation, Fisher allowed the juror to return to the group, but the juror was not chosen as part of the final 16.

When the jurors were selected, Fisher told them that they were not to discuss the case with anyone - and that included via Twitter and other social-networking tools.

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