WASHINGTON — A key witness against the man convicted of murdering Washington intern Chandra Levy in 2001, his one-time cellmate, could be discredited by new information, a judge overseeing the case said Thursday.
The judge was speaking at the end of a hearing in the case, one of several recent hearings that have been largely conducted out of earshot of the public and press. That pattern continued as government lawyers and lawyers for Ingmar Guandique spent about an hour and a half in private conversation with D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher.
At the end, Fisher repeated publicly what he has said before, that the proceedings have been confidential because of safety concerns. He added that the need for secrecy remains but that the safety concerns do not have to do with Guandique. News organizations including The Associated Press have objected to the secrecy.
The judge said government lawyers provided him information in November that could be used to discredit the testimony of Guandique’s one-time cellmate, Armando Morales. Morales testified during Guandique’s 2010 trial that Guandique had confided he was responsible for Levy’s death. Fisher did not say what information prosecutors provided but said it was disclosed to Guandique’s attorneys in December.
The disappearance of the 24-year-old Levy became international news after she was romantically linked with then-California Rep. Gary Condit, a Democrat. He was once the main suspect in her disappearance, but police no longer believe he was involved. Levy’s body was found in Washington’s Rock Creek Park in 2002, and Guandique, a Salvadoran immigrant who had previously been convicted of attacking women in the park, was convicted of her murder. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Also on Thursday, an attorney for Guandique asked prosecutors for a copy of a 911 call made by someone in Levy’s apartment building the morning of her disappearance, a call reporting a “bloodcurdling” scream. News accounts from the time of Levy’s disappearance show police discounting the significance of the call because Levy apparently used her computer for several hours later the same morning and because there were no signs of foul play at the scene. The attorney, Jonathan Anderson, did not explain his request.
So far, Fisher has released approximately 200 pages of redacted documents related to two hearings held out of public earshot in December and January. They show that defense attorneys plan to ask for a new trial as a result of the information brought to the judge.
The next hearing is set for May 21.
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