- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2015

The man convicted in the 2001 killing of federal intern Chandra Levy will get a new trial following concerns raised about the testimony of a key witness in the case.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher on Thursday granted a request for a new trial for 34-year-old Ingmar Guandique, who was convicted of Levy’s murder in 2010 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Prosecutors last month withdrew their opposition to the request.

The D.C. Public Defenders Service pursued a new trial for Guandique after prosecutors disclosed in 2013 that a key witness in the case, jailhouse informant Armando Morales, had lied when he testified he had never previously provided information to law enforcement in other criminal cases.

Morales testified during the 2010 trial that Guandique had admitted to killing Levy while the two were cellmates. With no physical evidence linking Guandique to the crime scene, Morales´ testimony proved crucial.

Defense attorneys said Morales had cooperated with law enforcement previously — providing information about gang involvements in California. And despite testifying that he had not asked for anything in return for his testimony in the Levy case, Morales had in fact asked to be put into witness protection, according to The Associated Press.

Levy disappeared May 1, 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 member of Congress from California.

At the time the charges were brought against Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, he was close to finishing his sentence for assaults on two joggers who were also attacked in Rock Creek Park. During the trial, prosecutors drew parallels to two other women Guandique attacked in the park at about the same time that Levy went missing.

A status hearing in the retrial is set for June 12 before Judge Robert Morin.

Court records indicate that Guandique was being held in jail on other charges and an “unrelated detainer.” It was not immediately clear Thursday whether defense attorneys would seek to have him freed pending the new trial.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said last month that it was preparing for the a retrial of the case.

“We remain firm in our conviction that the jury’s verdict was correct and are preparing for a new trial to ensure that Mr. Guandique is held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Bill Miller.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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