WASHINGTON (AP) — The man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy nearly a decade ago was sentenced Friday to 60 years in prison, a term that could keep him behind bars the rest of his life.
Ingmar Guandique would not be released from prison until he was at least about 80 years old, assuming he lives that long, said District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher. The judge, who called Guandique a dangerous person and sexual predator, said the sentence would ensure he was not a danger to the community if he is released.
Guandique was convicted in November of first-degree murder in Levy’s 2001 disappearance and death, despite a lack of witnesses and no DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Levy’s mother, Susan Levy, asked Guandique directly if he had been responsible for her daughter’s death. He looked her in the eyes and shook his head.
“Mr. Guandique, you are lower than a cockroach,” Susan Levy told Guandique, calling him a “hideous creature” before closing her statement with: “F— you.”
She also read statements from her son, who urged the judge to impose a life sentence, and from her husband, who said Guandique should “rot in hell.”
Guandique, wearing an orange jumpsuit, said in a brief statement in Spanish that he was sorry for what happened to Levy. But, he added, “I had nothing to do with it. I am innocent.”
Levy’s disappearance became a national sensation after she was romantically linked to then-California Rep. Gary Condit. Police initially focused on Condit as a suspect. Levy’s remains were found in Rock Creek Park a year after she disappeared. Police eventually shifted their focus to Guandique, who was already serving a prison sentence for attacking female joggers in the park in the same time frame Levy disappeared.
Guandique is expected to serve about 50 years of his sentence.
Prosecutors had asked for a life prison sentence, arguing that Guandique showed no remorse and had a history of violence toward women. They said Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, fled his village in that country as a teenager because he was suspected of attacking a woman at knifepoint.
Guandique’s lawyers, however, argued for the minimum possible sentence of 30 years in prison. They pointed to his suffering as a child, including the severe poverty in which he was raised.
The judge said Guandique committed a “truly horrible crime” that came close to warranting a life sentence. Guandique’s lawyers have 30 days to appeal.
Lawyers for the prosecution and defense declined to comment after the trial, but U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement that he hopes the sentence “provides some measure of closure to the Levy family.”
Also on Friday, the judge rejected Guandique’s request for a new trial. Guandique’s lawyers argued he should be granted a new trial because jurors improperly shared notes in reaching a verdict. They also argued prosecutors improperly appealed to the jury’s emotions and facts that weren’t part of trial evidence in making a graphic closing argument. But the judge rejected the argument about sharing notes and said he found the vast majority of the closing argument acceptable.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)