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Condit takes the stand in Levy case

Update, 3:10 p.m.:

Back on the witness stand this afternoon for nearly an hour, former Congressman Gary Condit once again refused to answer questions about the nature of his relationship with Chandra Levy, except to say that she was a "friend"

Condit, whose long-awaited testimony began this morning in the trial of the man charged with killing Levy, concluded just after 3 p.m., marked by barbed exchanges between him and Maria Hawilo, one of the attorneys for the defendant, Ingmar Guandique.

"She was a constituent and a friend of mine," Condit said of Levy.

"Are you denying a sexual relationship," Hawilo asked him.

I am "not speaking" about that, he replied.

As Condit testified, his daughter sat in the first row behind the jury.

Asked if Levy has spent the night at his Adams Morgan condo on several occasions, Condit said he was not going into that. "Who spends the night at my apartment is not relevant," he said.

"I am not," he went on, "going to respond to any personal, private questions."

Asked by Hawilo, if he was invoking his right against self-incrimination, Condit said he was not responding because it's "not relevant" and because he is entitled to privacy.

In cross examining Condit, Hawilo zeroed in on the differences between Condit's appearances before the grand jury in 2002 and in 2009.

In the earlier appearance, Condit invoked his right against self-incrimination and answered no questions, Hawilo noted and Condit acknowledged.

By contrast, when he appeared before the grand jury last year, as it collected evidence against Guandique, Condit did answer questions from the prosecutor.

Condit said his decision not to speak to the grand jury back in 2002 was based on his view that police and prosecutors had gone off the rails and weren't really looking for the truth.

Condit has met with investigators and agreed to a search of his home in what he said was an effort to help find Levy, only to be tagged as the suspect by the police..

"I had decided that I had had enough of this and I wasn't going to answer any more questions," he said

Asked by Hawilo, if he had tried to keep his relationship with Levy a secret, Condit said no. When Hawilo noted that he had only gone out on a dinner date with Levy once, Condit was quick to respond:

"It wasn't a date."

Hawilo followed up noting that Condit really only saw Levy at his Adams Morgan condo. "She came by the apartment a few times, yes," Condit said.

When Hawilo asked Condit if Levy had talked to him about a five-year-plan and having children with him, Condit chuckled. "There was no five-year plan," he said

Update, 2 p.m.:

One of the attorneys for the man charged with killing Chandra Levy began cross-examining former Congressman Gary Condit this afternoon, and predictably, it wasn't pretty.

"From the beginning of this case, you have lied," Maria Hawilo of the D.C. Public Defender Service asked Condit.

"No," Condit retorted in the opening exchange of a contentious back-and-forth that is to continue after lunch in Courtroom 320 of D.C. Superior Court.

Earlier under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines, Condit had said he would not discuss details of his relationship with Levy.

But Hawilo asked anyway, as everyone would have expected.

"I'm not going to respond," Condit told her.

Condit said he wasn't invoking his right against self-incrimination and simply was choosing not to answer questions he considered private.

Hawilo turned to the judge, Gerald I. Fisher, telling him the question went to Condit's credibility.

Fisher declared Condit non-responsive and that could affect how the jury judges the testimony of the man who was once the prime suspect in Levy's disappearance, said Michael Starr, a former public defender in the District and now a lawyer with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Starr said the judge will be able to instruct the jurors that they may consider Condit's non-responsiveness as a factor in weighing the credibility of his testimony.

And that could aid the defense, Starr said.

"In the broadest sense, if they don't want him to be found credible by the jury, then his failure to answer a proper question helps them," Starr said.


Update, 1:10 p.m.: On cross-examination, Condit repeatedly refused to answer directly whether he had a romantic relationship with Levy. Condit said he was trying to protect Levy's privacy as well as her family's and his. Judge Fisher eventually ruled he was being non-responsive.

Updated, 1:06 p.m.: Gary Condit recounted his final contacts with Chandra Levy early this afternoon, saying she made a surprise visit to his Adams Morgan condo about a week before she disappeared and that the two talked once more by phone.

Levy, who had been interning for the federal bureau of prisons, had enlisted Condit's help in learning more about jobs in federal law enforcement, and he had promised to set up some meetings for her. When she showed up on April 24, she wanted to make sure Condit was working on the meetings.

"She was very persistent," he recalled.

And that morning, she was very happy, he said.

"She was very chipper. She was, you know, very excited about her future."

Condit testified that on April 29, 2001, he again heard from Levy, who left a message for him. When he called Levy back, she was following up about the meetings Condit had promised to line up for her.

"Did you ever hear from her again?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines asked Condit.

Asked whether he had a fight or cross words with Levy, Condit said the two of them had never had a fight and never had cross words.

When he didn't hear from her, though, Condit followed up with her, leaving two voice messages. Levy was planning to return to California for graduation, and by the time he left the second message, Condit figured she had left Washington.

"Haven't heard from you," he said on the recording, which was played in court today. "I guess that means you're out of the country."

Condit said he heard from Levy's father after Levy went missing and that he contacted D.C. police on the family's behalf.

Condit said he was subsequently contacted by the D.C. police and, with their support, set up a reward fund.

But he never thought the worst. "I didn't know," he told Haines, when she asked what he was thinking as Chandra remained missing. "You just don't think this is going to happen to someone you know."

Condit denied having anything to do with Levy's death.

"Did you have anything to do with her disappearance," Haines asked him near the end of her questioning of the ex-Congressman.

"No, ma'am," he said.

"Did you kill her?," Haines asked.

"No, ma'am"

Asked why he had not admitted to police having had an affair with Levy, Condit said he thought he, his family and Levy were entitled to privacy and that that the country has lost its sense of "common decency."

But earlier in his testimony, Condit said he would have disclosed the nature of his relationship with Levy had investigators explained to him why that was relevant.


Original post: Former representative Gary Condit has just taken the witness stand in the trial of the man charged with killing Chandra Levy.

Condit, who was having an affair with Levy, was a suspect in the 24-year-old intern's 2001 disappearance.

But investigators eventually cleared Condit, and last year another early suspect, Ingmar Guandique, was charged with murder in her killing.

Today is the fifth day of testimony in the trial before Judge Gerald I. Fisher.

-- Henri Cauvin

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Henri Cauvin  | November 1, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Chandra Levy, Homicide, Sex Crimes  
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Next: Fake fed agent gets 11 years

Comments

Now what exactly is the relevance of Condit's testimony ?

Posted by: ellislawoffice | November 1, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"out of the country" he said on her tape machine.

If Chandra was returning to California for graduation, why would Condit conclude that she was out of the country?

Posted by: blasmaic | November 1, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

A lesson to be learned here I think. Had married Mr. Condit kept "little Gary" zipped he might have avoided this whole sad affair and probably kept his congressional seat as well.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | November 1, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

NOW the TRUTH will come out in the Chandra Levy case! I've been shouting into the wind for years!
www.rickhyatt.freeservers.com

Posted by: rickahyatt | November 1, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

It takes two to tango.

Posted by: TheChileanPresidentIsMuchBetterRespondingToDisastersThanObama | November 1, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

This is the last guy we need telling us the country has lost its sense of "common decency".

Posted by: Mike40 | November 1, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Condit was just getting a little strange booty, and Chandra was giving it up in hopes of getting a job.

Duh! This is what goes down in the Washington Metro Area. Why do you think that so many woman are in top positions. Good looking woman too, very seldom do you see a dog in high positoins.

Condit was just squeezing one off with Chandra. Too bad they paid too much attention to fact that they hooked up.

It would not have changed the fact that she was dead, but at least she could have found her sooner.

Posted by: Special_One40 | November 1, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

What in the world is the judge thinking? Why doesn't the judge just order Condit to answer the question about his relationship woth Chandra Levy and if he refuses, hold him in contempt and lock him up until the trial is over. That is what happens to everyone else who refueses to answer a relevant question. why should this lying cheater be treated any differently. Why isn't the stupid prosecutor asking for him to be held in contempt. And why isn't the defense? or the judge on his own.

Posted by: JackStraw3457 | November 1, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it would be a good idea if he took a polygraph test, as it seems pretty odd that he would think she would be out of the country unless he thought that Ingmar Guandique or somebody like him was in her apartment already,who had a set of keys and had killed her in her sleep and made it look like she was raped and killed in the park instead of being killed at home, by people who really don't like the Dept of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and its work doing anything to stop crime in the US and world wide, due to its work arresting drug lords in other countries, like the head of the Cali cartel, and bringing them into custody here to deal with their cartels' illegal activity in the US, and would follow someone like her back to home and kill her before she had a chance to get a job, based on the address information in her application and the use of her Social Security number to verify her own identity.

Posted by: carol_olden | November 1, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Being a former employee of a HYPERparanoid intelligence agency I see two statements in Conduit's testimony that would cause alarm among the paranoid watchers of people who have security clearances. Conduit was a member of a House Intelligence committee.
1. She made a 'surprise visit' to his condo. That is like him saying she may have been a threat, in the minds of the trigger happy watchers bent on protecting NATIONAL SECURITY at all costs.
2. "I guess this means you're out of the country". When a girl who has been having an affair with a married member of an intelligence committee wants to leave the country then the watchers would be alarmed. It doesn't matter if she was leaving the country or not, only that the watchers thought so.
At the time of her murder I suggested to one of my intelligence co-workers that I thought the 'secret police' did it. He told me to shut up. So I wasn't the only one who was thinking such evil thoughts.

Posted by: glenmayne | November 1, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

learn how to spell special_one. There may not be many "dogs" as you say it in high positions, but there are plenty of morons who post on here and can't spell.

Posted by: sunmayden518 | November 1, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

If there is sufficient forensic evidence support who killed Chandra Levy, why was Condit necessary to testify ?
If not, is this a super cover - up ?

Posted by: peterroach | November 1, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Mike40, I was going to post the exact comment! I can't believe his audacity to insult the country for lack of "common decency" when he's the cheater and liar. Nice! So many years after this person's death and Condit has YET to learn his lesson.

Posted by: anongrl10e | November 1, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes...Back in the day... we had the common decency never to talk about the hot chick that hung around the neighbor's house when his wife and kids weren't home. And above all, we had the decency not to talk about Fr. Bob and the altar boys.

Posted by: foxtrot1 | November 1, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes...Back in the day... we had the common decency never to talk about the hot chick that hung around the neighbor's house when his wife and kids weren't home. And above all, we had the decency not to talk about Fr. Bob and the altar boys.

Posted by: foxtrot1 | November 1, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

An odd series of bad luck in this case.

Her computer was switched off and then couldn't be accessed for weeks.

The security camera video tape was only remembered as a resource after the tape had been re-used.

They didn't find her body for almost a year, long after DNA evidence was destroyed.

The one DNA sample they found doesn't link to Guandique, Condit, or any of the lab technicians.

Condit took and passed a polygraph they didn't want to accept.

Guandique took and passed a polygraph too, and they don't want that entered into evidence either.

Now it turns out Condit thought she was out of the country instead of in California for graduation.

Guandique began assaulting women only after Levy's disappearance.

We're not seeing the truth about what happened to Chandra.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 1, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Still don't understand what those young interns see in those old geezers. Yuck!

Posted by: Nghbrhdwatch | November 1, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Good old Gary Condit. First, he refused to cooperate with the DC police, causing them to believe that he was hiding something and focusing on him to the exclusion of other suspects. Now he becomes "unresponsive" as a witness, a declaration that the judge will later instruct the jury is reason to discount his testimony and will help the defense to a create reasonable belief that he, in fact, killed Levy.

Gary Condit is a selfish, scumbag weasel. He would let a murderer walk if it would cover his butt. How did this moral coward ever get elected to Congress in the first place?

Posted by: hisroc | November 1, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Condit's conduct can't be excused.

But all need to remember that it was DC investigators who blew this case by blindly focusing on him and it was someone else who killed Chandra.

The defense strategy here is a reminder how morally bankrupt our judicial system is. Pounding on Condit in court won't change the fact that Condit didn't kill her.

Posted by: HillRat | November 1, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

It is unbelievably obnoxious of Gary Condit to refuse to answer questions about his relationship with Ms. Levy. It is well settled that when these heinous crimes occur, they are too frequently caused by a boyfriend, husband or some significant other of the woman rather than some random intruder. While that may or may not be the case in this instance, the prosecutor had every every right to ask the questions regarding the nature of his relationship with her and that those questions did not infringe upon the "common decency" implied by Condit. Had Condit had any of his own decency, a very married Condit would not have been messing with a college kid half his age. Obviously, if there was nothing to talk about, he wouldn't be having problems answering. He should be held in contempt of court for refusing to answer. He is not interested in maintaining a dead girl's privacy but rather, only his own self preservation. What a selfish boor he is.

Posted by: sassafrasnewport | November 1, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

HillRat wrote: But all need to remember that it was DC investigators who blew this case by blindly focusing on him and it was someone else who killed Chandra.

The defense strategy here is a reminder how morally bankrupt our judicial system is. Pounding on Condit in court won't change the fact that Condit didn't kill her.
_________________
Heck, HillRat, why bother having a trial at all if you have this all figured out? How, exactly, do you know Condit was not involved and/or that this particular defendant did the deed? If you have such a wonderful crystal ball, I say we stop spending taxpayer dollars on this trial and just hang the guy. I think you're a little off kilter about who is morally bankrupt here.

Posted by: sassafrasnewport | November 1, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

anongr110e wrote: Mike40, I was going to post the exact comment! I can't believe his audacity to insult the country for lack of "common decency" when he's the cheater and liar. Nice! So many years after this person's death and Condit has YET to learn his lesson.

______________________
I don't understand why his wife is still with him.

Posted by: sassafrasnewport | November 1, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

"when these heinous crimes occur, they are too frequently caused by a boyfriend, husband or some significant other of the woman"

That's true when someone goes bizerk and kills his wife or girlfriend and then sits down and calls 911. And you're right that it happens all too often. Mrs. Condit might be a more likely suspect, but it is my impression that Gary's dalliances may not have been a surprise.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 1, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Instead of wasting taxpayer money on a trial, they ought to write this case up as a training exercise for the D.C. Police Department to teach them how not to conduct a Murder investigation. What a screw up. Who would trust the police in this town? Nobody.

Posted by: observator1000 | November 1, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Instead of wasting taxpayer money on a trial, they ought to write this case up as a training exercise for the D.C. Police Department to teach them how not to conduct a Murder investigation. What a screw up. Who would trust the police in this town? Nobody.

Posted by: observator1000 | November 1, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Levy died years ago. What's the big deal with this case? Why not devote one-tenth the Levy case coverage on other crime cases?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 1, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget that the distracting focus on Condit was driven largely by the relentless pressure put on the DC police by the Condit family, largely Chandra's mother. If they had just let the police do their job a better result of the investigation may have been possible, although the DC police also made several mistakes on their own, without help from the Levy's.

Posted by: chevychase10 | November 1, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I meant the Levy family, of course.

Posted by: chevychase10 | November 1, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Gary Condit did not kill Chandra Levy, although her parents merciless persecuted him. Now the murder's attorney is trying to distract the jury by saying that Levy and Condit had an affair. Chandra Levy wasn't a 12-year old. She knew Gary Condit was married and if she was involved in an affair with him, she was just as guilty of that as Gary Condit was, but it still has nothing to do with the fact that Gary Condit didn't murder Chandra Levy!

Posted by: miesque | November 1, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post continues its descent. Letter writers to your newspaper, some of them families of murder victims, repeatedly ask why the WP is obsessed with this one murder case and ignore hundreds of other unsolved murders committed in the District during this same period.

The major public policy question seems to be how the pressure of public opinion can corrupt a police investigation. You going to write about that?

You going to change to a tabloid format? Because you're quickly becoming a tabloid in every other way.

Posted by: dcc1968 | November 1, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Public opinion didn't corrupt the police investigation.

There was a lot of interest and focus placed on the police, but there is no hint that anything the public did harmed or interfered with the police.

They completely screwed it up all by themselves, and at a time when they had everyone in the city backing every positive action they took to solve the crime. And what did they do with all that power? Smeared a congressman.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 1, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Condit's testimony is relevant as to whether or not the stalker killed her.

They just want to pry, and I don't blame Condit for not answering personal questions about his relationship with Levy, after all, he's not the one on trial.


Posted by: lindalovejones | November 1, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't the attorney ask the judge to compel Condit to respond?

Posted by: loved1 | November 1, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

This whole case was fishy from the beginning. We always figured Condit's wife had the little side-trip of her husband put away. After all those come cheap in DC.

Posted by: jeanlucca | November 1, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this guy is a dunce

The only reason that it's not relevant to the case is that it is actually not relevant. And that's the jurys' decision, not his.

Just how freaking hard is it for him to say that the girl spent a few nights at his condo? Good grief.

Posted by: chucklebuck | November 1, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

@blasmaic, thanks for your thoughts on whether public pressure corrupted this investigation.

Posted by: dcc1968 | November 1, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"don't think Condit's testimony is relevant as to whether or not the stalker killed her.

They just want to pry, and I don't blame Condit for not answering personal questions about his relationship with Levy, after all, he's not the one on trial."

...no, he's just a testifying witness.

So either his testimony is WHOLLY irrelevant to the case, or it's not. And if it's not then it's the jury's decision as to what is and what is not relevant. So by testifying in the first place but not answering the questions about his personal involvement with Levy he is either strengthening or weakening the defenses' case, and likewise the prosecutions, which do you think?

They are simply not going to be able to ignore the fact that he refused to discuss what went on his condo or in person between them, and how can you eliminate reasonable-doubt about one guy when you have another guy right there in court who led the police around by the noses for months, years, because of this exact behavior? Heck as far as the jury knows, Conduit found out about the attacks on female joggers in the park and decided to use them as his cover for killing Levy.

Posted by: chucklebuck | November 1, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Where's the editing:

"Asked if Levy has spent the night at his Adams Morgan condo"

This should read had, not has.

"Asked by Hawilo, if he was invoking his right against self-incrimination"

The comma is not necessary.

"Condit has met with investigators and agreed to a search of his home"

Again, this should be "had", not "has."

Otherwise, good story.

Posted by: davewyman | November 1, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Interesting.. I bet he had plenty to say to her when she was alive and giving it up to him. Now he denies having an affair with her, and is acting like this was just some random past hookup that he just wants to forget... Nice lesson in all of this..

Posted by: snobsappeal | November 1, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

i maintain to this day that gary condit has not been truthful about either his relationship with chandra levy or her convenient disappearance from his life at the very moment she was trying desperately to put their relationship on the fast track.

there was one (and only one) american whose fortunes changed for the better when airplanes crashed into the world trade center on september 11, 2001. gary condit was, up until 9/11/01, under increasing pressure from the media and federal authorities to answer questions about his involvement in chandra levy's disappearance.

and then 9/11 happened, and gary condit suddenly became the luckiest man on this planet.

i hope he never sleeps well again.


Posted by: potomacfever00 | November 1, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure why the prosecution called Condit. In any event, witnesses do not get to determine whether their testimony is relevant or not. I am surprised he even went there. The judge was correct to say that he was "nonresponsive." Had he been the "average" witness, the judge would have found him in contempt of court and tossed him in jail until he answered the questions or invoked the Fifth Amendment.

Posted by: darrren12000 | November 1, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Lose young PYT (see MJ song) fast and hoxny tried to trade sex for a hookup gig and ended up dead. Sad

Hooked up with a man her dad's age that was married, when she kb=new he was married + so did he. Happens every day in the USA.

Posted by: morrisday1 | November 1, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

All these questions are irrelevant to the trial of the defendant. First, the police screwed up. Now, where's the Judge in this case? On a coffee break?

Posted by: observator1000 | November 1, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Relevance? I think the defense is trying to create "reasonable doubt" about Guandique's guilt. It's their job.

Posted by: carlaclaws | November 1, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

glenmayne ~ what a comedian ~ but when another killing similar to this one occurred several months later I casually asked (in a different discussion board) "Who can stop Gary from killing again".

But otherwise when I first moved to town they found a nekkid girl dead near Ft. Marcy Park ~ and then they found another one near the same place ~ but she had an unused electric typewriter tape roll in her hand.

You'll never guess where they worked!

So, back and forth, secret police, congresscritter, foreign secret police, ambassador, and so on into the night ~ so many suspects and only so many murders that fit. Next, hit and run drivers.

Posted by: muawiyah | November 1, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

muawiyah

Well? Where did they work? Maybe you can expose a corrupt government agency.

Did they have these discussion boards back then?

Posted by: glenmayne | November 2, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Does anybody remember that while DC police, FBI, Chandra’s parents and aunt, media and many people in the country were busy concentrating on Condit/Chandra Levy love affair, 19 hijackers were planning the biggest terrorist attack on the country? Now many people are still losing their sense to beat up Gary Condit even though he wasn’t on trial.

Posted by: ludu1 | November 2, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think you could just "pick and choose" which questions to answer, if you agree to testify. I was under the impression that you can either take the fifth and refuse to answer ANY questions...but that if you answer one question on the witness stand, you must answer all questions. (Or else be found in contempt of court.)

Posted by: davidg32 | November 2, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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