Prosecutors said Monday that police were wrong in investigating Congressman Gary Condit in the murder of Chandra Levy nearly a decade ago.
“Law enforcement really let Miss Levy and her family down,” said Prosecutor Amanda Haines in her opening statement to the jury. “They veered in the wrong direction because of the media and sensationalism.”
Condit, a democratic Congressman from California, purportedly had an extramarital affair with Levy prior to her disappearance in 2001.
While Haines says police once assumed that Condit was the prime suspect, they no longer believe he was at all involved in Levy’s death.
Condit is expected to testify at Levy’s murder trial.
Authorities now believe that Ingmar Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, kidnapped and killed Levy in Rock Creek Park in Washington.
Haines said that there is no physical evidence of Guandique’s guilt, but that he confessed killing Levy to prison cellmates.
Guandique was also serving a 10 year prison sentence for attacking other young women in the same park in 2001.
Guandique’s defense attorney Maria Hawilo said that her client has become a scapegoat due to the botched police investigation.
“The police failed and fumbled this investigation,” Hawilo said. “They can’t fix their failure. They can’t undo their mistakes. ... They have turned him into an easy scapegoat.”
Hawilo said DNA evidence found on Levy’s jogging leggings did not come from Levy, Guandique or Condit.
Prosecutors believe this DNA is a product of the way the police handled the evidence.
Hawilo also said that prison cellmate confessions are unreliable as all inmates have a reason to lie, and that their confession stories varied in detail from person to person.