November 23, 2010 in Nation/World

Immigrant convicted in D.C. intern’s death

Jordan Steffen Tribune Washington bureau
Associated Press photo

Susan Levy, mother of murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy, speaks outside Superior Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – A Washington jury found Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique guilty Monday in the 2001 murder of intern Chandra Levy, whose disappearance transfixed the nation and brought down a California congressman.

Despite the lack of eyewitness testimony or forensic evidence, the jury of nine women and three men found Guandique, 29, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in an attempted robbery and kidnapping of Levy while she was running in Rock Creek Park.

The guilty verdict brought little closure for a mother who fought for nine years for justice for her only daughter. “The result of the verdict may be guilty, but I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb, missing from my family tree,” Susan Levy told reporters after the verdict. “I’m not sure if it’s a sense of peace,” she said in response to a question, “but I can certainly tell you it ain’t closure.”

Levy sat quiet and attentive as the jury read its verdict, gazing straight at Guandique.

At the time of her death, Levy had recently finished her graduate studies and an internship with the Bureau of Prisons and was planning to return to her hometown of Modesto, Calif. Nearly thirteen months after Levy disappeared her remains were discovered on a secluded slope in the park.

The verdict came after 3  1/2 days of deliberation. Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 11. The maximum sentence is life in prison without the possibility of release.

Guandique, who was in the country illegally, was charged with Levy’s murder last year while serving a 10-year sentence for attacking two women in the park around the time of Levy’s disappearance.

Guandique stared straight ahead, shaking his head as he listened to the Spanish translation of the verdict in his headphones.

Juror Emily Grinstead wept while the verdict was read.

“It’s been a very wearing and trying experience,” Grinstead said. “I’m confident with the decision we made, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish we weren’t here today.”

“It’s been 10 years since the promise of young life was lost,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. said. “While today’s verdict does not restore that promise, today’s verdict does send a message that it is never too late for a murderer to be held accountable.”

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