WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) — Federal authorities have decided to drop the prosecution of the suspect believed to be responsible for the murder of federal government intern Chandra Levy 15 years ago, officials said Thursday.
Citing “recent unforeseen developments,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., dropped its case against Ingmar Guandique, the man investigators believe killed Levy in the nation’s capital in 2001.
Officials said the unforeseen events happened within the last week, but did not specify what those developments are.
Guandique, an undocumented immigrant, was tried and convicted in Levy’s death six years ago and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but was granted a new trial last year based on additional evidence. Instead of retrying him, though, Justice officials will deport him to El Salvador.
Prosecutors said Thursday they’ve concluded that they “can no longer prove the murder case against Mr. Guandique beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Guandique was granted a new trial after defense attorneys claimed a key witness in the 2010 trial had lied to the jury. Guandique has served prison time for other unrelated attacks on women.
The May 1, 2001, disappearance of the 24-year-old Levy, who was an intern in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, triggered a massive search effort and a search for perpetrators. Her skeletal remains were found in the Washington area a year later and police concluded that she had met with foul play.
Guandique’s retrial was scheduled for Oct. 16 until federal prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss the case.
“After investigating this information and reviewing all of the evidence in the case, the government now believes it is in the interests of justice for the court to dismiss the case without prejudice,” U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips wrote in a court filing.
The “without prejudice” part of the dismissal means prosecutors reserve the right to prosecute Guandique at a future date if new evidence emerges in the case.
After the dismissal passes through the court, Guandique will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.