Levy hearing digs into witness's past

mdoyle@mcclatchydc.comJuly 30, 2013 

— A former Fresno gangbanger whose testimony helped convict the man accused of killing Modesto's Chandra Levy previously had offered to help authorities solve three other homicides, a court hearing revealed Monday.

In yet another twist to the long-running Levy mystery, defense attorneys revealed that key witness Armando Morales was a would-be prison snitch long before he testified in the 2010 trial against his former cellmate, Ingmar Guandique. Morales suggested in court that he had not previously assisted law enforcement, when newly revealed evidence suggests he had.

Guandique's jury, though, never knew of that track record when Morales testified that Guandique had confessed to him.

"We have found all sorts of instances that contradict his testimony," defense attorney Jonathan W. Anderson said, adding that "there's more than this one lie."

Prosecutors say Guandique stalked and killed Levy in Washington's Rock Creek Park on May 1, 2001. Her skeletal remains were found in 2002. At the time of her disappearance, she was preparing to return to her Modesto home after an internship at the federal Bureau of Prisons. Her disappearance drew national notoriety because of revelations that she had been having an affair with her hometown congressman, then-Rep. Gary Condit of Ceres.

Morales shared a cell with Guandique for about six weeks in 2006 while they were incarcerated at U.S. Penitentiary Big Sandy in Kentucky. In time, Morales said, they confided in one another.

"He said, 'Homeboy, I killed that b----, but I didn't rape her,' " Morales testified at Guandique's trial, adding that "he told me that he didn't even know that he had killed her."

Guandique is now serving a 60-year sentence. He sat silent and shackled Monday, flanked by U.S. marshals, as attorneys wrangled.

Now, defense attorneys are zeroing in on Morales' claim during Guandique's trial that he "didn't know how" to approach law enforcement with information, as well as his statement that he had never testified against other defendants in other cases.

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