Chandra Levy Murder Retrial Hits a Snag

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Attorneys for the man who faces a retrial on charges of killing government intern Chandra Levy complained in court Friday about the government’s control of evidence.
     Though Ingmar Guandique’s second trial was initially slated to start on March 1, his attorneys expressed concern today they will not have reviewed all of the documents they need to mount a defense by then if the government is not forced to turn over the information soon.
     Guandique was handed a 60-year sentence in 2011 for Levy’s 2001 murder, but the D.C. Superior Court granted Guandique a retrial over some alleged improprieties in the first trial.
     Levy’s death became national news and the ensuing scandal ended the political career of Gary Condit after it was revealed the congressman had been having an affair with the 24-year-old.
     Though Condit was ultimately cleared of involvement in Levy’s death, the California Democrat remains a central figure in the argument over what information the government should turn over to Guandique’s legal team and how quickly they should do it.
     At the time of his conviction, Guandique was a 29-year-old undocumented immigrant from El Salvador.
     His public defender, Eugene Ohm, said Friday there is “a lot” more information implicating Condit in Levy’s death that the government has not yet turned over.
     “The time for the review of the government and the big discovery disclosure is well past in our view,” Ohm said in court Friday.
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines meanwhile told the court that the government found and sent Guandique’s team police reports detailing interviews with Condit.
     Ohm called this response “unsatisfactory,” however, suggesting that there is more the government has yet to turn over, such as information on a number email accounts linked to Levy that were deleted three days before Levy’s May 2001 disappearence.
     Sines said the government does not have access to Levy’s accounts, though it appears a search warrant was issued but never executed ahead of the first trial.
     In addition to police and FBI reports, grand jury transcripts and notes related to Condit, Ohm also targeted information ahead of the hearing about four other people he referred to as “potential perpetrators.”
     Sines bristled at this label, especially when it was applied to Sven Jones, who worked at the Bureau of Prisons where Levy was an intern. Sines noted Jones was in Canada when Levy was killed, and suggested the term Ohm used was inappropriate.
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy also noted that the government has turned over limited discovery on four of the people Ohm requested.
     The defense’s repeated requests have been “impeding” the prosecution’s ability to review its evidence, slowing down the process, Rakoczy added.
     Beyond reports and information about “potential perpetrators,” Ohm also requested anticipated testimony from witnesses the government planned to call. He specifically focused on Guandique’s former cellmate, Armando Morales, whose testimony was key to convicting Guandique in the first trial but has since been called into question.
     Sines said in court that such disclosure would be unnecessary because the government has yet to decide whether they will even call Morales at the new trial.
     To compromise, Judge Robert Morin set a new status hearing tentatively for Dec. 11, noting that the government could vacate the hearing if prosecutors still have not decided on whether to call Morales.

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