Police defend their handling of Levy investigation

Some of the indelible images associated with the Chandra Levy disappearance and subsequent murder investigation.
By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 9:06 PM

District crime-scene and U.S. Park Police officers testifying in the Chandra Levy case on Thursday defended how they handled and processed the slain woman's remains and other items found in Rock Creek Park a year after she disappeared.

The testimony came a day after Dupont Circle cabinetmaker Phillip Palmer told the court that he found Levy's skull in the park May 22, 2002, while walking his dog. Palmer told the jury that when he called police, the responding officers "traipsed" through the area and acted "non-professional."

But officers on the stand Thursday gave a different account. Park Police Lt. Dennis Bosak testified that when he arrived, he used his baton to move the skull and saw the eye and nose openings, but did not touch anything else until other officers arrived.

Bosak said the Levy case had drawn heavy media attention and that officers were careful processing the scene.

"We took very good care of preserving everything at that crime scene," Bosak said. "We wanted to do the best we could."

Criticism of the police investigation has plagued the prosecution's case. Officers searched the park in the weeks after the federal intern disappeared, but by the time Palmer found Levy's remains and belongings a year later, key DNA evidence had been lost.

Ingmar Guandique, 29, is charged with first-degree murder and other counts in Levy's killing.

"There was no trampling of the scene of any sort," said John Allie, a D.C. Police evidence technician who also testified.

Allie, a 24-year veteran of the force, gave a detailed account of how the scene was processed and what was found. Allie testified that police searched the area with 22 cadaver-sniffing dogs from May 22, 2002, to May 28.

Then, on June 6, officers returned to the park to look for more evidence after Levy's tibia was found. Officers stayed at the scene through June 24.

Photos were shown of teams of police recruits sifting through leaves and debris for items in the area where the skull was found near the Western Ridge Trail.

Many of the items were near several bones identified as Levy's. Officers found a couple of Levy's teeth and her jawbone. A picture of the jawbone with teeth attached was displayed on a projector. Levy's mother, Susan, who was holding a stuffed animal, had left the courtroom.

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