- Ingmar Guandique (Photo: Associated Press)
Jury selection in the Chandra Levy murder trial began yesterday, and The List has already compiled 14 excuses proffered by potential jurors who wish to avoid their civic duty in the case. Excuses include: Watching too much television; going on a non-refundable trip to New Orleans soon; your wife having been mugged the previous night; already believing that Ingmar Guandique is guilty.
Yesterday, TBD Justice reporter Sarah Larimer caught another justification: Being gay. "As a gay person, I live in fear daily because of hate crime," one potential juror told the court. "It would be hard for me to pass judgment based on another person's act of violence."
Briefly: Guandique stands trial for killing 24-year-old D.C. intern Chandra Levy after attempting to sexually assault her. Guandique has alleged ties with Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a Central American gang connected to a series of violent crimes, including the ritual rape of women. One FBI agent who investigates gang activity in the area describes the MS-13 M.O. as "kill, rape, and control." When two possible members of the gang were prosecuted for the rape of a 16-year-old Laurel high school student in 2006, the men denied the rape charges by denying any connection to MS-13.
What MS-13 isn't particularly known for is anti-gay hate crimes. Last year, suspects connected with MS-13 were charged with an anti-gay attempted murder in Wheaton, Md. But beyond a couple of other isolated incidents, the gang doesn't have much of a reputation for gay bashings.
Potential jurors have grasped at more tenuous excuses for avoiding duty in the Levy case (New Orleans?), but the idea that being gay makes a person unfit to serve as an impartial juror in a completely unrelated murder case is one justification I hadn't heard before. Of course, the real issue with this juror is not that he is gay, but that he's already decided he can't be fair. When asked if he'd already drawn some conclusion about Guandique's guilt or innocence, the juror replied, "um, guilty."