Ex-cellmate says Guandique admitted killing Levy

The Washington Examiner

By Emily Babay

The man accused of killing federal intern Chandra Levy told a former cellmate that he was responsible for her death, but denied sexually assaulting her, the cellmate testified Thursday.

“I killed that bitch, but I didn’t rape her,” Ingmar Guandique allegedly told cellmate Armando Morales at a Kentucky prison in 2006.

Morales’ testimony about his conversations with Guandique while the two were cellmates at Big Sandy prison is the most incriminating evidence thus far in Guandique’s murder trial in D.C. Superior Court.

Prosecutors say Guandique, 29, tried to rape and killed Levy while she was jogging in Rock Creek Park in May 2001.

Morales, 49, testified that Guandique told him that he saw Levy walking alone in the park. She had a waist pouch, and Guandique was planning to rob her, Morales said.

He said Guandique told him he grabbed Levy’s neck from behind, and dragged her, struggling, toward the bushes. She stopped fighting back, and Morales recalled that Guandique said he thought she was unconscious.

Guandique told him that he didn’t know that Levy died in the assault, Morales testified.

“He said he never meant to kill her,” Morales recalled.

Morales said he and Guandique became friends because they were associated with allied gangs — Morales with the Fresno Bulldogs and Guandique with MS-13.

Guandique also told Morales that he broke up with a girlfriend because he “expected to be charged with murder,” Morales testified.

In a case in which FBI experts have conceded that no physical evidence links Guandique to Levy’s death, the testimony of jailhouse informants is key for prosecutors building the case that Guandique killed the 24-year-old Levy. Her disappearance dominated national headlines in the summer before the 9/11 attacks, in large part because of her affair with then-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.

During cross-examination, Guandique’s attorneys sought to raise questions about Morales’ motives.

Morales came forward to authorities in 2009, after he saw a report on CNN about Guandique’s arrest. He said he didn’t talk to law enforcement earlier because he didn’t want to be considered a snitch. But now, Morales said, he wants to do the right thing.

Defense attorney Santha Sonenberg suggested that Morales was testifying in hopes that prosecutors ask for his sentence to be reduced in exchange for cooperation.

But he maintained that he had not asked for or been promised anything for his testimony.

Sonenberg asked, “Don’t you hope that it will help you get out sooner?”

“That’s not why I’m here,” Morales said.

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