Jury selection has begun in the trial of a Salvadoran man accused of killing Chandra Levy, a U.S. government intern. Her death nearly 10 years ago made international headlines after Levy was linked to a California congressman.
The man on trial is Ingmar Guandique, 29; he's charged with murder, kidnapping, attempted sexual assault and other counts. Authorities charge that Guandique attacked the intern when she was jogging alone in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park in May 2001.
Levy's body wasn't found until more than a year after her disappearance. And as her parents recently told The Washington Post, they don't feel that the current case will be enough to give them a sense of peace when thinking about their daughter.
But her case became a national sensation after her involvement with Rep. Gary Condit was revealed. Although he was a suspect at one point, Condit is no longer believed to have had anything to do with her death. And in a book about the case -- and in an NPR interview earlier this year -- journalists Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz say the police made critical mistakes in their investigation.
The government’s case reportedly relies on information from men who were in prison with Guandique. He was arrested last year while serving a 10-year sentence for separate assaults in Rock Creek Park.
Last week, defense attorneys revealed that D.C. police had posed as a Hispanic woman, writing letters to Guandique that they hoped would solicit a confession from him. Defense attorney Santha Sonenberg says the ruse should have resulted in a dismissal of the murder charges against Guandique.
Guandique has pleaded not guilty; when he did so, as The Fresno Bee reports, his defense attorneys declared, “Shine a little light ... and you'll find the witnesses and facts don't add up.”
A defense request to move the trial out of Washington – where the case has been covered extensively – was rejected.
Monday, jurors at the D.C. Superior Court completed an 11-page questionnaire to determine whether they could sit for the trial, expected to last at least a month.
According to reports, Guandique appeared in the courtroom Monday dressed in a turtleneck sweater and a beige blazer. He introduced himself to jurors in Spanish.
The Associated Press reports that a spokesman for Condit says the former congressman expects to be called as a witness, though he has not been subpoenaed.
The judge in the case may begin hearing arguments as late as next Monday.