Prosecutors announced Thursday that they will not retry a man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy, saying they can no longer prove their case in the 15-year-old slaying that thrust former congressman Gary Condit into the national spotlight.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia issued a statement saying it has moved to dismiss the case charging Ingmar Guandique with Levy's 2001 killing.
According to the statement, prosecutors concluded they can no longer prove the murder case against Guandique beyond a reasonable doubt, "based on recent unforeseen developments that were investigated over the past week." The statement does not elaborate, and Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, declined comment.
"After investigating this information and reviewing all of the evidence in this case, the government now believes it is in the interests of justice for the court to dismiss the case," prosecutors wrote in a one-page motion.
Within hours of prosecutors' motion, a judge officially dismissed the case.
Guandique's lawyers in the public defender's office issued a statement Thursday saying their client has been vindicated.
"Finally, the government has had to concede the flaws in its ill-gotten conviction," the lawyers said, noting that Guandique had passed an FBI-administered lie detector test regarding his involvement. They accused prosecutors of hiding information that undermined their star witness at Guandique's 2010 trial.
Levy's 2001 disappearance created a national sensation after the Modesto, California, native was romantically linked with then-Rep. Gary Condit. The California Democrat was at one point a prime suspect in the investigation, police acknowledged.
Levy's remains were not found until 2002, in Washington's sprawling Rock Creek Park.
Eventually, police cleared Condit and in 2009 charged Guandique with Levy's murder. Guandique had already been convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacks on female joggers in Rock Creek Park, and prosecutors argued Levy's death fit the pattern of those attacks. He was found guilty in 2010 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.
But Guandique was granted a new trial last year after doubts were raised about a jailhouse informant, Armando Morales, who was the key witness at Guandique's trial. Morales testified that Guandique confessed to the killing.
Defense lawyers have argued, though, that Morales lied during the trial and that prosecutors knew or should have known the testimony was problematic.
"It is now clear that the jailhouse informant, who was central to the government's case, was a perjurer who too easily manipulated the prosecutors," Guandique's lawyers said in their statement Thursday.
In recent months, Guandique's attorneys have raised questions about Condit. At a January hearing, one of Guandique's attorneys told a judge that Condit misled the jury with his testimony at the 2010 trial, but he did not elaborate.
In May, defense lawyers sought to take depositions from several women who said they had sexual relationships with Condit. Defense lawyers said two of the women said they feared Condit. And the defense lawyers said Condit had "obvious motive to kill Ms. Levy in order to keep the relationship secret."
Condit testified at trial that he didn't kill Levy but evaded questions about an intimate relationship saying, "We're all entitled to some level of privacy."
Lawyers who represented Condit did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. Efforts to reach Levy's parents by phone were not immediately successful Thursday.
Prosecutors say that as a result of their action, Guandique, who is from El Salvador, will be released to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and faces deportation.
Barakat reported from McLean, Virginia. Associated Press writers Ben Nuckols and Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.