More testimony in Chandra Levy case
A Northwest Washington woman took the stand this afternoon in the trial of Ingmar Guandique to testify about an encounter she says she had with a man resembling Guandique in the spring of 2001 in Rock Creek Park, around the time that Chandra Levy disappeared.
Amber Fitzgerald, 38, who has lived in Northwest Washington since 1998, was living in Adams Morgan in 2001 and was a regular visitor to Rock Creek Park, where she would walk and jog.
Fitzgerald was the second woman to testify Monday about being attacked in Rock Creek Park.
Looking shaken and often dabbing her eyes with a white tissue, Fitzgerald testified about setting out one afternoon for the park in the spring of 2001. About a half hour later, she was startled when a man emerged out of the woods.
Something wasn't right, she said, and as the man, who was about 20 feet ahead of her, took one trail, she opted to take another.
"I decided I wanted to avoid him," she said.
Moments later, she sensed someone behind her, she said, and when she turned, the man was just 10 feet behind her. "To me it looked like he was trying to sneak up on me."
The man stopped and Fitzgerald decided she was in trouble and had to get out of there. "This is not right," she said she thought to herself.
So she ran. "I was trying not to fall, but I was trying to run as fast as I could."
But she didn't report it to police, thinking the encounter wouldn't merit any follow up.
A year later, in 2002, she was in Prague, studying, when someone showed her newspaper with a photo of a man who was a suspect in the Levy case. "I was in shock because it looked like the same person who had followed me in the park."
But she wasn't sure it was him and she was, she would later testify, reluctant to get involved.
Then the following year, in 2003, she saw a television program about the case, and she realized she had to say something.
"At that point," she said, dabbing her eyes with a tissue, "I decided I had to go to the police. It was weighing on my conscience.
Even today, the woman cannot say on what date the encounter occurred. Using her calendar, she's been able to narrow it to several possible dates in April and May 2001.
On cross examination, one of Guandique's attorneys, Maria Hawilo, sought to raise doubts about the woman's recollection of events.
Hawilo noted that even the possible dates offered by the woman had only emerged in recent years as the police worked with her to piece together a time line.
And Hawilo drew Fitzgerald out on the point that that she was by her own account not 100 percent sure the man she saw in the newspaper was the same man she had encountered in the park.
-- Henri Cauvin
Washington Post editors
| October 25, 2010; 4:35 PM ET
Categories: Chandra Levy, From the Courthouse, Homicide
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