Defense attorneys for the man convicted of killing Chandra Levy in 2001 asked a judge on Thursday to compel prosecutors to turn over an audio tape of a 911 call previously not made available to them about a “blood-curdling scream” heard in the former federal intern’s apartment building the morning she disappeared.
Lawyers for Ingmar Guandique, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence for killing Levy, are seeking the tape, whose existence was reported in 2001 but which investigators dismissed as a key clue to her disappearance. Police at the time said other evidence indicated Levy had used her computer later in the day.
The disclosure came in the course of a D.C. Superior Court hearing revisiting the case after prosecutors in November approached a judge with “significant impeaching” information about one of the government’s witnesses. The information has prompted defense attorneys to say they will seek a new trial and spawned a series of closed-door meetings on the 2010 conviction.
Judge Gerald I. Fisher confirmed that the information in question was in regard to jailhouse informant Armando Morales, who said Guandique confessed to killing Levy. Morales told jurors that Guandique was afraid of being labeled a rapist by fellow prisoners, so he admitted the killing but denied raping the young woman.
Guandique’s defense team argued that Morales, a cellmate of Guandique’s, found out about his connection to the case after seeing a report on CNN.
Prosecutors countered that Morales said that Guandique described how he attacked Levy from behind, which was also how he attacked two other women.
As with most of the proceedings thus far, Thursday’s hearing largely took place around the bench, with static piped over speakers to keep observers from hearing what was said.
Guandique was also in the courtroom, listening via headphones and a translator. He was dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit, his dark hair close-cropped and an outgrown goatee around his chin.
The half-dozen attorneys in the case scribbled in their notebooks and talked with their heads down, while Judge Fisher spoke with his chin resting in his hand.
Patrick Carome, an attorney for various media outlets that have complained about the exclusive proceedings, made several failed objections to the hushed discussions.
Since knowledge of the information the defense claimed could “undermine Morales’ credibility” first came to light, several closed meetings have been held on how best to proceed.
Other hearings have been conducted in the courtroom, but transcripts from those meetings were turned over to the public heavily redacted.
Thursday’s proceedings were no different, when after nearly two hours of static, Judge Fisher granted prosecutors another 30 days to address the issues concerning Morales’ testimony and what he referred to as an “update of safety issues.”
“It’s my expectation to disclose as much as it’s possible to disclose,” he said of next month’s hearing. “I’m very aware of the interest in the public learning as much as it can.”
Judge Fisher said the safety issues he alluded to regarding witness testimony did not relate to Morales and Guandique, as he’d received “no allegations” concerning conduct or communication between the former cellmates.
The Levy case was one of the most high-profile cases in Washington in years.
Levy, a 24-year-old intern for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, disappeared in 2001 after leaving her apartment in jogging clothes. Her remains were found in 2002 in a heavily wooded area of Rock Creek Park. The case attracted particular attention when it was revealed she had a romantic relationship with Gary Condit, then a congressman from California.