Jury convicts man in killing of Chandra Levy in 2001
Nov 30, 2010
Let's hope for the family of Chandra Levy that justice was done by convicting Ingmar Guandique of the 2001 murder of Chandra Levy. But reading the news stories surrounding the conviction makes me pause. I have spent quite a bit of time studying wrongful convictions, as well as talking to those exonerees who spent time in prison, some on death row, for crimes they did not commit. This case looks dubious.
Guandique was not convicted of Chandra Levy's murder due to DNA evidence, nor was he convicted by eye witness account. DNA is now the most reliable way of confirming the guilt or innocence of a prepetrator. Eye witness accounts convict thousands of offenders in the United States but more often than you would think those convictions are in error. In this case, Ingmar Guandique was convicted of neither DNA nor eye witness accounts. Instead, he was convicted on the basis of a cellmate's testimony that Guandique had told him he killed Chandra Levy. The testimony of such so-called prison "snitches" are often what false convictions are made of. It is even more likely to convict an individual currently serving time for another offense.
Quandique was convicted of raping two women in the same park where Chandra Levy's body was found. In fact, he is currently serving time for those offenses. Both women were called by the prosecution to testify against Guandique during this trial. That testimony did not claim that these women saw Guandique with Levy but it did establish the fact that he was capable of an attack. But did he kill Chandra Levy? Members of the jury spoke of "getting it right" and looking at all "available evidence' but the conviction of Guandique was based on the words of that cell mate as well as past crimes committed by Quandique against the two women.
I hope for the sake of the Levy family that justice was served. Once sentenced Guandique will most likely serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Let's hope they got it right. The victim's family deserve justice because without knowing the right offender was apprehended and convicted there will certainly be no healing or closure. Restorative justice would allow for questions to be asked of the offender by the victim or victim's family. Maybe some day if the family and the offender are willing there could be a victim offender dialogue, a form of restorative justice, which is currently being used more frequently with seriously violent offenses including murder. However, no healing is possible and offender accountabilty cannot be realised if the wrong offender is convicted. I hope my sense about this case is wrong.
Note: On February 14, 2011, the Washington Post quoted Chandra Levy's mother as saying she was not certain that Guandique is the person who killed her daughter.