Prosecution expected to call on jail informants in Levy murder trial

Some of the indelible images associated with the Chandra Levy disappearance and subsequent murder investigation.
By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 31, 2010; 7:29 PM

Security in Courtroom 320 of D.C. Superior Court will be heightened this week when gang members and former prison inmates are scheduled to testify that Ingmar Guandique admitted to them that he raped and killed federal intern Chandra Levy.

As the trial enters its second week of testimony, prosecutors are scheduled to present the most critical pieces of evidence in their case against Guandique.

Whether the jury believes the convicts when they take the stand and say that Guandique, 29, told them he killed Levy could make or break the prosecution's case.

Guandique was serving time in a California prison for attacking two women in Rock Creek Park at about the same time Levy went missing in May 2001. The jury already has heard testimony from those two women and now will hear from cellmates and others at the prison who claim Guandique confessed to killing Levy.

Levy, 24, was having an affair with her then-congressman, Gary A. Condit. Condit also was listed by the prosecution as a possible witness; he could take the stand as soon as this week.

Guandique was charged last year with six counts, including first degree murder, attempted robbery and attempted sexual assault, in connection with Levy's slaying. Levy's remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park in 2002, a year after her May 1, 2001 disappearance.

It's a circumstantial case. Prosecutors have no DNA, no eyewitnesses, no murder weapon and no definitive ruling on the cause of Levy's death.

Last week, the government opened its case by telling the jury that Levy's death was part of a pattern of attacks in the park by Guandique.

Jurors - 12 women and four men, including alternates - listened as Halle Shilling and Christy Wiegand emotionally detailed how Guandique jumped on them from behind and knocked them to the ground as they were jogging in an isolated area of the park.

The women testified that Guandique had a knife but that they were able to fight him off. Prosecutors used a map to show the jury that the attacks on Shilling on May 14, 2001, and on Wiegand on July 1, 2001 were within a mile of each other and within a mile of where Levy's remains were found.

This week, prosecutors are hoping that testimony from Guandique's former cellmates will solidify their case.

But convincing jurors that the inmates aren't lying could be challenging. One of the inmates scheduled to testify was sexually assaulted by Guandique, prosecutors acknowledged during pretrial hearings.

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