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Prosecutors in Chandra Levy case say defendant assaulted witness in prison

Ingmar Guandique
Ingmar Guandique (Kevin Clark - The Washington Post)
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By Keith L. Alexander
Monday, September 27, 2010; 9:51 PM

One of the government's key witnesses in its case against the man charged in the kidnapping and slaying of federal intern Chandra Levy was sexually assaulted by the defendant while the two were in prison, prosecutors told a D.C. Superior Court judge Monday.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines said Ingmar Guandique sexually assaulted a witness who will testify that Guandique admitted committing a "murder" in Washington, D.C., by grabbing a woman and then torturing and killing her. Guandique then allegedly told the inmate that he "tied her down" and then "hog-tied" her before the sexual assault, Haines said.

Haines did not say whether Guandique mentioned Levy by name to the inmate.

Prosecutors said they expect defense attorneys to argue that the witness, who was not identified in court, was biased in his testimony against Guandique because of the prison assault. Guandique apparently was never charged in that assault.

Guandique, 29, was arrested last year and charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of the former federal intern, who disappeared in May 2001. Her body was found a year later.

At the time of his arrest, Guandique was serving a 10-year sentence in the Victorville federal prison in Adelanto, Calif., for assaulting two other women at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park about the same time that Levy, 24, disappeared. Authorities think that Guandique sexually assaulted Levy before killing her.

Also Monday, Judge Gerald I. Fisher delayed the start of the trial to Oct. 18, from Oct. 4.

At the hearing, Guandique's attorneys, Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo of the D.C. public defender service, petitioned the judge to place a gag order on all police officers, investigators and attorneys involved in the case. Fisher granted the request.

Levy's disappearance generated international attention because she had been having an affair with then-Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.), who represented the district that includes her home town of Modesto.

Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, came under scrutiny months after Levy vanished, but it was not until a new set of detectives was assigned to the case that the charges were brought.

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