A judge has ordered the man charged with the death of Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy detained as the case undergoes a re-trial.
Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin ruled earlier this month that, despite controversial testimony from a key witness in the original trial, the prosecution’s evidence against Ingmar Guandique was strong enough to “find probable cause that the defendant committed first degree murder,” and that the trial would continue as planned.
Judge Morin also chose to uphold the prosecution’s motion that Guandique remain detained until his grand jury trial. Prosecutors cited Guandique’s criminal record and what appeared to be a previous escape attempt when Guandique jammed his shackles with paper to delay the trial back in 2009. However, no charges were officially filed.
Guandique, 33, with hands unshackled, sat with his defense team listening to his headset as his translators conveyed the decision. A new status hearing was scheduled for October 23 at 11:30 a.m. The grand jury trial is expected to begin in March of 2016.
Guandique was convicted of killing Levy, a 24 year old intern, back in 2010. Levy, who had disappeared in May 2001 while jogging, was found in Rock Creek Park after passerby’s found her skull in the brush in May, 2002. Guandique was convicted of the crime in 2010 after witnesses testified that Guandique had admitted to killing Levy, but the testimony of one key witness has brought the case back to court.
Jonathan Anderson, one of Guandique’s defense attorneys, argued in court that the testimony of Armando Morales, a convicted felon and former gang member who shared a cell with Guandique and testified against him in the 2009 trial, was “false.” Morales claimed that in 2006 Guandique had admitted to accidentally killing Levy, but only came forward with the information in 2009. Anderson specifically called in to question Morales’ answer when asked why he had waited so long to inform police, to which Morales replied, “I’ve never done nothing like this before.”
The defense says this statement implies that Morales had never informed on other inmates before, an untrue statement as he had acted as an informant twice before. Anderson also argued that Morales lied when he said that no deal had been made for his testimony as Morales has received witness protection treatment while in jail.
Prosecutor Kate Rakoczy said that these accusations were “overreaching,” and that Morales statement referred to testifying in front of a grand jury, and not to talking with police. Rakoczy also maintained that no benefits or special treatment was given to Morales for his testimony, and that witness protection was provided due to natural procedures at the prison to ensure prisoner safety.
Due to the controversy, prosecutors have yet to determine whether Morales’ testimony will be used in the new trial.