The mystery of the Chandra Levy murder has deepened as a judge refused to allow the press into hearings about a problem with a witness that could potentially overturn the conviction in the sensational case.
Over the howls of national media organziations, Washington D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher, maintained strict secrecy restrictions on the media’s ability to report on recent hearings in the case.
Fisher has ruled that virtually all details of two hearings and at least one upcoming hearing will remain out of public view. Such hearings are only held in secret in extremely rare circumstances.
The ruling shocked a group of media outlets, including Associated Press, Gannett, McClatchy, the Washington Post and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, that had filed court papers seeking to unseal the information.
“We’re very disappointed with the court leaving in place essentially blanket secrecy,” Patrick Carome, an attorney representing the media outlets, told reporters outside the courthouse, CNN reported, adding that the secrecy could last months.
The hearings concern unspecified problems with a witness in the murder of Levy, the Jewish intern who disappeared in the summer of 2001.
Levy’s body was discovered in a Washington, D.C. park a year after her 2001 disappearance, which captivated the nation. An intern at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, she was revealed to have been having an affair with then-congressman Gary Condit.
An immigrant from El Salvador, Guandique was convicted of Levy’s murder in 2010 after a trial in which the main evidence was testimony from a fellow prison inmate who said Guandique confessed to killing Levy.
There was no physical evidence linking Guandique to the crime scene or any testimony that he knew her. He was linked to several other attacks on joggers in Rock Creek Park, the leafy enclave where Chandra Levy’s remains were found.
Guandique’s attorneys have been meeting secretly with prosecutors and a federal judge in recent weeks.
“It’s all secret,” Chandra Levy’s father Robert Levy told Fox News said of the meetings between federal prosecutors and defense lawyers. “No one is allowed in there. It’s about some witness.”
Fisher has said the secrecy regarding the trial is for “safety concerns,” but refused to elaborate.