DNA evidence links Gary Condit to Chandra Levy

FBI examiner drops bombshell as murder trial of Ingmar Guandique resumes in Washington

mdoyle@mcclatchydc.comNovember 10, 2010 

EDITOR'S NOTE - This story contains sexual content that may offend some readers.

WASHINGTON – Semen stains found in Chandra Levy’s underwear matched former Modesto-area congressman Gary Condit’s DNA, an FBI examiner testified Wednesday.

The semen sample provided seemingly incontrovertible proof that Condit had a sexual relationship with Levy, which is something he has never publicly acknowledged. It did not, however, go far in solving the mystery of Levy’s 2001 death.

The pair of stained underwear, termed “panties” by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines, was taken by investigators from Levy’s apartment shortly after she disappeared in May 2001. Levy’s skeletal remains, and some accompanying pieces of clothing, were not found until May 2002.

Prosecutors have already acknowledged they lack any DNA or other physical evidence connecting accused killer Ingmar Guandique to Levy’s death. On Wednesday, moreover, they had to acknowledge errors in how some evidence was processed in 2001. The errors forced investigators to retest certain items again in 2002

“Unfortunately, there was a problem with the biologist working with me,” FBI forensic examiner Alan Giusti said, adding that “she was not performing the tests according to our protocol.”

Giusti did not elaborate further on the mistakes, although he was to face defense cross examination later Wednesday. The acknowledged FBI lab mistakes from 2001 added to a litany of early law enforcement errors that plagued the initial Levy investigation.

These errors included an intense but ultimately misguided focus on Condit as a potential suspect, Haines and law enforcement witnesses have said since the trial began Oct. 25. Condit testified last week, denying he had anything to do with Levy’s death but refusing to say whether he had an affair with the much-younger woman.

Condit “had an affair” with Levy, Haines told jurors at the start of the trial.

Guandique faces a potential sentence of life in prison, on charges that he killed Levy during an attempted sexual assault in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. Prosecutors say Guanidique killed Levy on May 1, 2001.

At the time, the 24-year-old Levy had finished graduate studies and a federal Bureau of Prisons internship. She was planning to return to California by Amtrak on May 5, according to evidence presented earlier.

A red bra found alongside Levy’s skeletal remains in Rock Creek Park in May 2002 was found on testing to have female DNA, but this turned out to be the DNA from a lab technician who was doing the testing.

Levy’s black tights, found at the crime scene with the legs knotted together, were found with two distinct DNA samples, examiners have testified. One belonged to a man, and the other belonged to an individual of indeterminate sex. Neither sample could be matched to a specific person, including Guandique.

“That DNA belongs to someone else,” defense attorney Maria Hawilo hammered home Wednesday, during cross examination.

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