The case against the man convicted of killing former intern Chandra Levy is "drastically undercut" by information that prosecutors kept to themselves "for the better part of a year," according to defense attorneys who now say they will seek a new trial.
In heavily redacted legal briefs and transcripts, defense attorneys quote prosecutors as acknowledging they had come upon "significant impeaching information" that potentially undermines the credibility of a prosecution witness. But though prosecutors received the information in roughly February 2012, the trial judge wasn't informed until November.
"We think we're being jerked around," defense attorney James Klein said, according to a previously sealed transcript of a Dec. 18 court hearing.
Klein, chief of the appellate division of the D.C. Public Defenders Service, charged that the government's alleged failures to investigate potential witness problems were either "intentional" or an example of "ineptitude." In either case, Klein alleged the government may have violated the so-called "Napue" rule that bars prosecutors from knowingly presenting false testimony and obligates them to correct it when it occurs.
The ensuing legal fight has spurred renewed questions about the strength of the case against Guandique, whose felony murder conviction in November 2010 seemingly put to rest one of the nation's highest-profile murder mysteries. Prosecutors convinced jurors that Guandique killed Levy on May 1, 2001 in Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park, shortly before Levy was to return to her family's Modesto home.
The new twists have also revived questions about the public's right of access to trial proceedings, as well as precisely what the government knew and when the government knew it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chandra Levy, file photo. The Mosdesto Bee