US & Canada

Chandra Levy: Guandique found guilty of 2001 murder

Chandra Levy
Image caption Chandra Levy's disappearance made headlines around the world

An immigrant from El Salvador has been convicted of the 2001 murder of US government intern Chandra Levy.

Ingmar Guandique had denied killing Ms Levy, 24, whose remains were found in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC more than a year after she disappeared.

The case claimed the career of a politician to whom she was romantically linked, Gary Condit.

The California Democrat, once a suspect in the murder case, has declined to discuss whether they had an affair.

The jury deliberated for four days before returning guilty verdicts on two counts of first-degree murder on Monday. Guandique faces the possibility of life in prison.

"I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree," her mother Susan Levy said outside the courthouse on Monday. "It's a lifetime of a broken heart."

Mr Condit, a California Democratic congressman who left office in 2003, did not comment.

His father, Adrian Condit, told the Associated Press news agency: "I'm sure that this will lighten the load for Gary and the entire family. He's been under all the pressure of this."

Mr Condit's children promised in a statement: "Our father will tell his story at the appropriate time."

'Scapegoat'

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors admitted they had no eyewitness or physical evidence tying Guandique to Ms Levy's murder.

Image caption Guandique told cellmates he carried out the killing, prosecutors said

Defence lawyers said Guandique, 29, had become a scapegoat for a botched investigation and claimed that his DNA did not match samples found on Ms Levy's clothing.

But the prosecution presented evidence that Guandique had told prison cellmates he had carried out the killing, and they argued the details of the case matched patterns from other attacks against women for which Guandique had been convicted.

Guandique was serving a 10-year prison sentence for those attacks when he was charged with Ms Levy's murder.

Prosecutors said police had been wrong initially to focus their inquiries on Mr Condit.

The former California Representative testified during the course of Guandique's trial, and said his decision to not discuss the nature of his relationship with Ms Levy was based "purely on principle".

"I think we're all entitled to some level of privacy," he told the court.

"Seems like in this country we've lost a sense of decency. I didn't commit any crime, I don't think I've done anything wrong."

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