WASHINGTON — A jury on Monday convicted Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique of killing Chandra Levy in 2001.
The jury of three men and nine women deliberated for a little more than three days before announcing its verdict, which caps one of the nation’s longest-running and most relentlessly chronicled murder mysteries.
The two first-degree felony murder convictions subject Guandique to a potential sentence of 30 years to life in prison, as the District of Columbia doesn’t have the death penalty.
“It’s been an important Monday morning for me and my family,” Levy’s mother, Susan Levy, said shortly after the verdict was read. “It makes a difference to find the right person who was responsible for my daughter’s death. I have a lifetime sentence, of a missing limb, missing from my family tree,” Levy said.
Guandique’s sentencing will come Feb. 11, after additional court proceedings. The fearsomely tattooed 29-year-old already is serving a prison sentence for attacking two other women in Washington’s Rock Creek Park.
Rock Creek Park is where, jurors agreed, Guandique killed Levy on May 1, 2001, during an attempted robbery and kidnapping. All told, the jurors convened for roughly 18 hours.
“I don’t know that it was a difficult decision, but it was lengthy,” said juror Linda Norton, a 62-year-old interior designer. “We felt we owed it to everyone involved to go through all of the evidence.” Another juror, 28-year-old restaurant worker Emily Grinstead, stressed that there was no single element of the prosecution’s case that ensured conviction.
“At the end of the day, the decision was based on all of the evidence, and not just one piece,” Grinstead said.
A third juror, 58-year-old journalist Susan Kelly, added that the closing arguments “were very effective” in summing up the case.Two women who survived their own 2001 attacks by Guandique described vividly what happened.
“He grabbed me from behind and held a knife to my face,” recounted Christy Wiegand, who’s now a 35-year-old lawyer with two children. “He brutally attacked me, and dragged me to an isolated area.” Guandique’s other known surviving victim, Halle Shilling, recalled how she “felt an incredible thud” when Guandique jumped her from behind while she was jogging.
Shilling, who’s now a mother of three living in Southern California, and Wiegand were able to fight off Guandique.[/BY]