Chandra Levy Suspect to Stay in DC

Guandique's defense team argues case based on "jailhouse snitches" is weak

WASHINGTON -- The man accused of killing federal intern Chandra Levy will remain jailed in Washington until a preliminary hearing scheduled for late next month.

Ingmar Guandique made his initial court appearance Thursday, one day after being charged with first-degree murder. An arrest warrant last month accuses him of sexually assaulting and killing Levy in a Washington park in May 2001.

The 27-year-old illegal immigrant from El Salvador appeared in a baggy orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. He spoke softly and through an interpreter when asked to state his name and whether he understood the proceedings.

His attorneys argued there was no probable cause for his arrest, saying the government's case is based largely on "jailhouse snitches."

The judge disagreed and scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 27.

District of Columbia police issued an arrest warrant for Guandique on March 3, accusing him of sexually assaulting and killing Levy on a trail in Rock Creek Park in May 2001. Her remains were found in the park a year later.

The case was cold for years after destroying the career of former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit, of California, who admitted to an affair with the intern but always denied any role in her disappearance.

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Investigators questioned Guandique in Levy's slaying after he was convicted in two other 2001 attacks of female joggers in Rock Creek Park. He had been serving a 10-year sentence in California.

Guandique repeatedly talked of choking Levy to death during an attempted rape in 2001, according to statements from prison snitches.

Prisoners' statements also revealed that two other "teenagers" may have helped Guandique grab Levy and hold her down. When she began to fight off her attackers, Guandique said he choked her to stifle her screams, fearing nearby joggers would hear her, the statements said.

According to prosecutors, Guandique used Rock Creek Park as a "hunting ground," stalking victims along running trails. One victim said she believes Guandique was intent on raping her.

In September 2008, D.C. Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office executed a search warrant on Guandique's California jail cell. He had MS-13 tattoos on his body, and a photo of Levy, possibly from a magazine, was found in his cell.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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