Chandra Levy Murder Verdict: Ingmar Guandique found guilty (updates)

Susan Levy: 'I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree.' (Photo: Associated Press)

This story has been updated.

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29-year-old man convicted of Chandra Levy's murder

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A District of Columbia jury on Monday found a 29-year-old man guilty of the 2001 murder of Chandra Levy, capping off a case that destroyed the political career of a U.S. congressman and left a family in perpetual grief for nearly a decade.

"I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree,” said Susan Levy, Chandra’s mother, who watched most of the high-profile trial from the courtroom.

The verdict, which the jury of three men and nine women reached shortly before noon, was issued after more than three days of jury deliberations. Jurors were selected for the trial last month and witness testimony lasted 10 days. The jury saw a load of exhibits, though no forensic evidence or eyewitness testimony linked defendant Ingmar Guandique to the 24-year-old Levy’s death.

"I don't know that it was particularly difficult,” juror Linda Norton said of the deliberations during a press conference outside the courthouse. “It was lengthy. We felt that we owed it to everyone involved to go through the evidence completely and to find, in the end, a verdict that we all could be comfortable with and would serve all of the parties involved to the best of our ability."

Guandique, a Salvadoran immigrant who was charged in connection to the Levy case last year, now faces a possible life sentence. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February. His defense attorneys declined to comment immediately after the verdict was read.

"I'm not sure if it's a sense of peace but I can certainly tell you, it ain't closure,” said Susan Levy, who remained composed but stared at Guandique from the third row of the courtroom as the verdict was read.

Levy had just completed an internship with the federal Bureau of Prisons and was preparing to travel back to the West Coast when she went missing in May 2001. Her parents, frustrated with the lack of attention the case was receiving from the Metropolitan Police Department, looked at their daughter’s phone bill, discovered the number of then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit’s office and asked for his help. After Condit, D-Calif., became involved and was pegged as a suspect in the disappearance, coverage of the investigation exploded.

Early in the investigation, it became clear this was hardly a standard missing persons case. It drew national attention for months, left an embarrassed D.C. police department scrambling for answers and led to the political downfall of Condit. At the time, the wild-haired California girl seemed like she could represent any intern, any small-town kid who came to the epicenter of power with ambition, smarts, big dreams.

"We cannot bring back her daughter,” Norton said. “And nobody here can do anything to bring back her daughter. We did the best we could with the evidence we were given to come to the conclusion of this case."

There wasn’t much. Prosecutors warned the jury in opening statements that no lab tests would link Guandique to Levy's death. Instead, they relied on a parade of witnesses, who strung together a loosely connected narrative of Levy’s final days and Guandique’s actions in 2001.

"Everything about my life, specifically, has had to change,” said Emily Grinstead, a juror who cried after the verdict was read. “I've had to change my work schedule. I've had to change the way I think, the way I process information. I can't ask questions. Couldn't do any research on my own. It's a tremendous amount of responsibility."

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