WASHINGTON (AP) – Previously private court documents and transcripts of hearings related to the case of murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy will be made public, some immediately and others by the end of the week.
That’s what a judge and government lawyers said during a court hearing Monday, but it’s not clear how much new information the documents may provide. Lawyers have held a number of meetings in the case in recent months, but the public and press have not always been able to listen to all those meetings. The documents’ release means that transcripts of all previously private hearings should be available to the public, though they may include redactions.
News organizations, including The Associated Press, have objected to the secrecy, but the judge overseeing the case said it was necessary for unspecified security reasons.
In general, lawyers have been discussing information that could discredit a key witness who helped convict Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique of Levy’s death. The witness is Guandique’s one-time cellmate, Armando Morales.
Morales testified during Guandique’s 2010 trial that Guandique had confided he was responsible for Levy’s death.
Defense attorneys have said they intend to request a new trial based on information that calls Morales’ testimony into question. Defense attorneys said Monday they would likely file that request with D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher in October or November, within 45 days of the next hearing in the case, which is set for Sept. 26.
Levy’s 2001 disappearance became international news after she was romantically linked with then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit of California. He was questioned about her disappearance, but police no longer believe he was involved. The 24-year-old Levy’s body was found in Washington’s Rock Creek Park in 2002 and Guandique, who had previously been convicted of attacking women in the park, was ultimately charged.
Though Fisher ordered some of the post-trial hearing documents be made available immediately, they were not available by the close of business Monday. It is not clear, however, how much new information the documents may provide since recent hearings in the case have been more open.
For example, lawyers discussed openly Monday the information that could discredit Morales. A lawyer for Guandique, Jonathan Anderson, said there were numerous contradictions in Morales’ testimony. He said, for example, that Morales testified he’d never come forward to law enforcement before approaching officials about Guandique’s case.
A trial transcript shows that when Morales was asked at trial how he went about coming forward, he responded: “Well, I didn’t know how to do it. As a matter of fact … I was nervous about it. I don’t have no trust in law enforcement, for reals.”
What defense attorneys were apparently not told until recently, however, was that Morales told prosecutors that he had previously talked with law enforcement officials. Morales apparently discussed three murders with those officials in addition to drug and weapon dealing that was going on inside a Georgia prison where he was then incarcerated.
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