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Ingmar Guandique convicted of first-degree murder of former intern Chandra Levy

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A D.C. Superior Court jury on Monday found Ingmar Guandique guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying of former federal intern Chandra Levy. After the verdict came in, Levy's mother and members of the jury spoke to the media.

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Map shows attacks in Rock Creek Park
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His attorneys, Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo from the District's public defender's service, declined to comment. But it is likely they will appeal.

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After the verdict was announced, Susan Levy and the lead prosecutor locked in a warm embrace outside the courtroom. "Thank you," Susan Levy said to Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines. ". . . That was a miracle."

"Miracles happen," Haines replied.

The guilty verdict was a major victory for the U.S. attorney's office in the District.

Levy, 24, disappeared May 1, 2001, and the case immediately generated worldwide interest. Levy was having an affair at the time with Gary A. Condit, the married congressman from her California home town, who was 30 years her senior, and Condit was the first suspect in Levy's disappearance. Levy was in Washington after having completed an internship as part of her master's degree studies at the University of Southern California.

More than a month after her disappearance, police searched Rock Creek Park for any signs of Levy, but did not find anything. A year later, a man walking his dog in the park found Levy's skull.

Police located more of her remains and some of her belongings, including her sports bra, black tights and T-shirt. But by then, valuable DNA evidence had long since eroded. What little DNA they found on the items belonged to an unknown person and not to Guandique - points made by the defense through the trial.

Without any forensic evidence, prosecutors based their case on two primary pillars. First, they argued, that Guandique preyed on women in Rock Creek Park and that the attack on Levy was part of a pattern. Guandique was convicted in 2002 of attacking two female joggers in the park about the same time Levy disappeared, and those joggers testified at the trial.

The second pillar was the testimony of one of Guandique's former cellmates, who was housed with Guandique when he was serving time for the jogger attacks. The inmate told jurors that Guandique admitted to him in 2006 that he killed Levy.

That testimony was the only evidence during more than three weeks of trial that directly linked Guandique to Levy's slaying.

Armando Morales, a convicted drug dealer and gang member who was housed with Guandique in a Kentucky prison in 2006, gave compelling details of what Guandique told him.

Guandique said he was high on drugs and crouching behind bushes in Rock Creek Park when he saw Levy walking alone and wearing a waist pouch, Morales said. Guandique needed money and he jumped Levy.


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