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Prison pen pal's testimony questioned

One of the attorneys for Ingmar Guandique tried Tuesday to poke holes in the testimony of a woman who was a prison pen pal of Guandique and who said Guandique wrote to her about the death of a "young girl."

Guandique, 29, was charged last year with killing Chandra Levy. He is on trial in D.C. Superior Court.

Guandique's erstwhile pen pal, Maria Mendez, corresponds with prisoners. After receiving a letter from Guandique several years ago, she wrote back to him to ask that he explain a little about himself and what he was accused of.

At the time, Guandique had been sentenced to prison for attacks on two women in Rock Creek Park. But in his reply to Mendez, who lives in Florida, Guandique spoke of the death of a young girl, Mendez testified.

That spooked Mendez, she said, though she did not make a connection between him and the investigation into the death of Levy, whio had disappeared in 2001 and whose remains were discovered about a year later in Rock Creek Park.

Mendez said she wrote back to Guandique saying she did not want to correspond with him anymore. Before he received the letter, he called her collect -- on April 30, 2003 -- and in the call, she conveyed her concerns.

In questioning Mendez, Guandique's attorney Santha Sonenberg sought to emphasize that in his conversation Guandique had never admitted to Mendez any involvement in the disappearance or death of a girl.

"At no point in the conversation did he admit any involvement in the disappearance of a girl?," Sonenberg asked.

"No," Mendez said.

"Or the death of a girl?"

"No," Mendez said.

The letter that so alarmed Mendez is gone -- thrown away, she said, when a relative moved in.

-- Henri E. Cauvin

More on this story: Full coverage | Major events | Key players

By Washington Post Editors  | November 2, 2010; 5:43 PM ET
Categories:  Chandra Levy, From the Courthouse, Homicide, The District, Updates  
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