Guandique sentenced to 60 years for Levy murder

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.
Map shows attacks in Rock Creek Park
The Washington Post
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 12, 2011; 12:07 AM

Susan Levy stood about two feet from the man convicted of killing her daughter Chandra and wasted no time telling Ingmar Guandique what she thought of him.

"Because of you, young man, you have caused us to live a Holocaust again," Levy said in a packed, hushed and rapt D.C. Superior courtroom Friday. "You have sentenced our entire family to days of sadness, tears and heartache. You are a hideous creature."

Levy stood at a podium, with Guandique two seats away, separated by his two attorneys. At times, Levy addressed Guandique directly and pointed at him. "How could you take my daughter's life? Did you really take her life? Look me in my eyes and tell me."

Judge Gerald I. Fisher, who oversaw the trial and Friday's sentencing hearing, calmly asked Susan Levy to address him and not Guandique.

"You're lower than a cockroach. Would you have done this to your mother? To your sister?" she asked Guandique.

Then, after she finished her 15-minute statement, she turned again to Guandique and snapped, "[Expletive] you" before returning to her seat. Minutes later, Fisher sentenced Guandique to 60 years in prison for killing Chandra Levy and put an end to one of Washington's most sensational murder cases.

Guandique, 29, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was convicted by a jury in November of two counts of first-degree felony murder, one related to Levy's kidnapping and the other related to trying to rob her.

Before Fisher issued his decision, Guandique stood up, paused, wiped his eyes and addressed the Levy family. It was the first time he had spoken at length in court since being charged in 2009.

"I am sorry for what happened to your daughter," he said through an interpreter. "But I had nothing to do with it. I am innocent."

The shackled Guandique appeared about 20 pounds lighter than he did at last year's trial. His features seemed more gaunt and sunken. The boyish, clean-shaven face had given way to a mustache and a goatee. His orange prison overalls didn't cover the MS-13 gang sign on his neck; during the four-week trial, it was hidden by a turtleneck and sport coat that he wore each day.

Levy, a 24-year-old former federal intern, disappeared in May 2001. Her skeletal remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park a year later. Levy's disappearance immediately generated worldwide interest when it was discovered that she had an affair with Gary A. Condit, the married congressman from her California home town who was 30 years her senior. Condit was the first suspect in Levy's disappearance and was later cleared.

Guandique's attorneys, Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo of the District's Public Defender Service, had petitioned Fisher for a new trial. The attorneys argued that the prosecution's closing argument focused on Guandique's past acts and other information not in evidence, which they said unfairly prejudiced the jury. The attorneys also argued that jurors failed to follow a judge's order about not sharing notes during deliberations.

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