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60 years for Ingmar Guandique, Chandra Levy's killer

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 11, 2011; 12:17 PM

The man convicted of killing former federal intern Chandra Levy was sentenced to 60 years in prison Friday morning in D.C. Superior Court, putting an end to one of Washington's most sensational murder cases.

Ingmar Guandique, 29, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was convicted on November of two counts of first-degree felony murder, one related to Levy's kidnapping and the other related to an attempted robbery.

On Friday, Judge Gerald I. Fisher sentenced him to 60 years in prison.

In a one-page letter written to a Washington Post reporter and dated Jan. 22, Guandique said he was innocent. The letter, handwritten in Spanish, said the evidence presented by the government and authorities "was false."

"Everything about this case was a stupid, comedic farce that the detectives and prosecutors have engaged in," Guandique wrote. "I know there are people who believe in my innocence and to those people who believe in my innocence I say you are not mistaken, because I am innocent." Guandique said he was a scapegoat.

Prosecutors had asked Fisher to sentence Guandique to life in prison without parole.

In a sentencing memo to Fisher, prosecutors wrote that Guandique "demonstrated predatory behavior that seems incapable of rehabilitation" and that Guandique "posed a grave danger" to the community.

The memo described events prosecutors say involved Guandique and other women -- examples that were not in evidence at trial. Prosecutors said Guandique had numerous improper encounters with women including attacking a woman at knifepoint in El Salvador before migrating to the U.S. when he was 19.

While in prison, prosecutors said Guandique also wrote graphic letters with drawings to female insurance agents and masturbated in front of a female prison guard.

Guandique's lawyers did not make their memo public.

In requesting a new trial, Guandique's attorneys from the District's Public Defender Service had previously argued that there was juror misconduct during deliberations. They cited a Washington Post article quoting a juror saying that the panel shared their notes during deliberations because one juror did not take any.

Guandique's attorneys had argued that Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines focused on prior acts by Guandique in her closing arguments that were not in evidence at trial.

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.

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