WASHINGTON—Ingmar Guandique, 29, was convicted by a jury today in the May 2001 slaying of Chandra Levy, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
The verdict followed an 11-day trial and more than three days of deliberations in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The jury convicted Guandique of first degree felony murder with the aggravating circumstances of kidnapping and attempted robbery. Judge Gerald I. Fisher, who presided at the trial, set a sentencing date of February 11, 2011. Guandique faces a potential sentence of life in prison with no possibility of release.
Chandra Levy, 24, who had completed an internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, disappeared on May 1, 2001. Her remains were found on May 22, 2002, in Rock Creek Park.
At the time of Ms. Levy's disappearance, Guandique was living in Washington, D.C. Following an extensive investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for the defendant in March 2009. He was indicted in May 2009.
According to evidence presented at trial, the attack upon Ms. Levy was among a series of crimes committed by the defendant between May 1 and July 1 of 2001 in secluded areas that were on the trails of Rock Creek Park, in Washington, D.C. Ms. Levy and three other women were stalked or attacked by Guandique while exercising in the park. The other victims managed to escape.
Guandique stalked one of the women on May 1, 2001, the day that Ms. Levy disappeared. He accosted another of the women while she was jogging on May 14, 2001, grabbing her from around the neck at knifepoint. She got away during an ensuing struggle. Then, on July 1, 2001, Guandique attacked another woman who was jogging, also grabbing her at knifepoint. That victim also got away after a terrifying struggle with the defendant.
Guandique was arrested soon after the July 1, 2001 attack. He pleaded guilty in September 2001 to assault charges stemming from the May 14 and July 1 incidents. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence for those crimes and was due to be released at the end of December 2010.
According to the government's evidence, in 2006, while in prison and serving that 10-year sentence, Guandique confided to another inmate that he had attacked Ms. Levy in the park by grabbing her by the neck and dragging her off the trail. He also told that inmate that he took a fanny pack from Ms. Levy.
The government's witnesses at trial included the three women who escaped from Guandique's attacks, as well as the prisoner who heard Guandique's confession. In addition, two other witnesses testified that they saw scratches on Guandique's face and body at about the time that Ms. Levy disappeared.
"Justice for Chandra Levy has been a long time coming," said U.S. Attorney Machen. "We recognize that today's verdict can never restore the promise lost in Rock Creek Park nearly a decade ago, but it proves that it is never too late to hold a murderer accountable for his crimes. It is never too late for justice to be done. I want to thank the prosecutors and investigators who worked so hard on this case for so many years. Our hearts remain with Chandra Levy's family, which has demonstrated remarkable strength and courage throughout this ordeal."
"This was an extremely difficult case and I commend the detectives and the prosecutors for their relentless efforts to bring this to a successful resolution," said Chief Lanier. "I can't imagine what it is like to lose a child. My heart goes out to Chandra Levy's family and we hope that this verdict brings them some level of comfort."
Guandique's conviction is among four successful prosecutions since June 2010 of older homicide cases. In one, a man was convicted of killing a motorist 20 years ago in an episode of road rage. In another, a man was convicted of an 11-year-old murder of a woman whose body was never found. And in another 11-year-old case, a man was convicted of killing a man and woman as they sat in a parked car. The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to investigating these older homicides and recently created a special unit to look into long-unsolved, or "cold" cases.
In announcing today's verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier praised the efforts of the many people who worked on the investigation from MPD and other agencies. They especially noted the hard work of MPD Detectives Kenneth "Todd" Williams, Anthony Brigidini and Emilio Martinez.
They also expressed appreciation to members of the MPD Mobile Crime Lab, including John Allie, Charles Egan, Mike Miller, James Holder and John Holder; Joseph Kish, of the United States Park Service; Glenn Luppino, Chris Cunningham, John Bozak, Todd Ritacco, Craig Lane and Sgt. John Gott of the United States Park Police; Sue Fisher, from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons; Special Agent Jane Dombowski, of the FBI's Connecticut Field Office; forensic analysts and technicians from the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, and Dr. David Hunt from the Smithsonian Institution.
They also expressed gratitude to those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney's Office, including Kim Herd, Katina Adams and David Foster, of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit; Lawrence Grasso, of the Intelligence Unit; Assistant Acting Chief Elizabeth Trosman and Deputy Chiefs Mary McCord and John Mannarino, of the Appellate Division; Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Leif Hickling, Kimberly Smith, Joe Calvarese and Thomas Royal, of Litigation Services, and Paralegals Candace Battle, Deborah Joyner and Kwasi Fields. Additionally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Friedman and Kevin Flynn, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa Poteat, and the Washington Field Office of the FBI, which participated in the early investigation of the case.
They further acknowledged the dedicated efforts of Yvonne Bryant, of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit, whose help was invaluable leading up to and during the trial.
Finally, they praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Haines, Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, and Christopher Kavanaugh, who prosecuted the case.