WASHINGTON (CNN) — A judge on Monday ordered the release of sealed documents and transcripts from court proceedings related to the murder case of Chandra Levy, a Washington intern whose disappearance in 2001 drew national headlines and damaged a U.S. congressman’s political career.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher ruled that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia should release the transcripts of secret conversations between the lawyers and the judge at the judge’s bench in hearings from earlier this year.
The case of Levy, whose body was found in a Washington park in 2002, is back in court because defense attorneys for the man convicted of her murder have called into question the testimony of a key prosecution witness.
Ingmar Guandique, 31, was sentenced in 2011 to two concurrent 60-year sentences for murder with kidnapping and murder with attempted robbery in Levy’s death. He was in court Monday wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.
In February 2009, police arrested Guandique, who was already in prison for attacking two other women in the park where Levy’s body was found and who had reportedly spoken about killing her.
Armando Morales, a convicted felon and former gang member, testified at Guandique’s trial that Guandique confessed to him that he killed Levy. Guandique repeatedly said at his trial he had nothing to do with Levy’s death.
Guandique’s defense attorney, Jonathan Anderson, on Monday questioned Morales’ credibility and said he had given contradictory testimony about Guandique. According to Anderson, Morales had provided information to law enforcement before about three murders.
A status hearing on the case has been scheduled for September 26.
Levy, a 24-year-old California native, was in Washington working as an intern for the Bureau of Prisons when she was last seen on May 1, 2001. Her skull was found a year later in Washington’s Rock Creek Park and she was identified through dental records.
Levy’s disappearance gained national attention after her parents discovered a connection with Gary Condit, who was then a congressman for Levy’s California district. Condit was never a suspect in the case, but he was questioned intensively for details about Levy’s whereabouts.
Condit denied he and Levy were having an affair, but an FBI forensic expert later confirmed his semen was found in Levy’s underwear that was retrieved from her apartment after she went missing.
The sealed information is from hearings late last year and earlier this year. They are transcripts of discussions that lawyers and Fisher had at the judge’s bench, which observers in the courtroom could not hear.
A group of media outlets including the Associated Press, Gannett, McClatchy, The Washington Post and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed court papers seeking to unseal the information.
Condit, who served in Congress until 2003, is currently on the board of directors of the Phoenix Institute of Desert Agriculture, a non-profit group that promotes sustainable farming.
By CNN’s Greg Seaby