A jury found Ingmar Guandique guilty on two charges of felony murder in the death of Washington intern Chandra Levy Monday.
After three days of deliberations last week, the jurors deliberated for another two hours Monday morning before announcing the verdict. Guandique is facing 30 years to life in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 11, 2011.
"The verdict may have been guilty, but I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree," said Susan Levy, Chandra's mother.
Chandra Levy was 24 when she disappeared in 2001. Her remains were found more than a year later in Rock Creek Park.
Her disappearance became an international sensation when she was romantically linked to then-Congressman Gary Condit. The California Democrat became the primary suspect in the case.
"It wasn't just the police who were on the wrong track," said juror Emily Grinstead. When asked by reporters who else was on the wrong track, she replied, "You all."
Authorities eventually turned their attention to Ingmar Guandique. He was accused of attacking Levy while she jogged in Rock Creek Park.
Prosecutors lacked hard evidence against Guandique, presenting no eyewitnesses nor DNA evidence. The prosecution admitted evidence was mishandled as the early investigation focused on Condit.
"Don't make assumptions," Grinstead said. "It's a lesson for everybody."
In a sense, prosecutors had to prove Condit not guilty before proving Guandique guilty, NBC Washington's Pat Collins reported.
Outside the courthouse, the jurors said there was a great deal of evidence and that they went over it deliberately, which is why it took so long to reach a verdict.
"We have decided as a group not to speak about our deliberations, but we did go over every piece of evidence," said juror Susan Kelly.
Prosecutors asked the jury to rely on the testimony of career criminal Armando Morales, a former cellmate of Guandique, who testified that the defendant admitted killing Levy while serving a 10-year sentence for two similar Rock Creek Park assaults. Morales testified that Guandique told him he intended to steal from Levy, not kill her. Guandique was concerned other inmates would think he was a rapist because he was linked to the Levy investigation, Morales said.
Prosecutors also emphasized that Levy’s death fit the pattern of the two Rock Creek Park assaults for which he was convicted. Both victims testified during the month-long trial.
The defense argued that the prosecution’s story was fiction, suggesting that Levy’s body was dumped in Rock Creek Park but that she wasn’t killed there. And of course, the defense highlighted a lack of hard evidence to prove Guandique’s guilt. They said Guandique was a scapegoat for police because of the mishandled investigation.
Condit’s name came up often throughout the trial. He testified, but refused to answer questions about his relationship with Levy.
The verdict represents a vindication that comes too late to repair the damage to Condit's career, said his lawyer, Bert Fields.
Susan Levy said she would talk about the case again in the future, but for now, she and her family would like their privacy.
"I really appreciate it that you give my family, the Levy family, some time to find a new normal, because this is very difficult," she said.
"I'm not sure if it's a sense of peace," she added, "but I can tell you it ain't closure."
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