Saturday, February 21, 2009

Did police belief in discredited lie detector test cause them to let Chandra Levy's killer go free?

Arrest Near in Killing of Chandra Levy, Authorities Say
New York Times
February 21, 2009

Police officials here are close to making an arrest in the killing of Chandra Levy, the former federal government intern whose disappearance in 2001 ended Gary A. Condit’s Congressional career after his relationship with her was revealed, several law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation said on Saturday.

Law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because charges had not been filed, identified the suspect as Ingmar Guandique, 27, a Salvadoran immigrant who has previously denied any involvement in Ms. Levy’s disappearance and killing.

Ms. Levy’s killing is one of Washington’s most sensational unsolved crimes and has brought intense pressure on the Police Department. Ms. Levy disappeared on May 1, 2001, and more than a year passed before her body was found in Rock Creek Park in Washington.

Mr. Guandique pleaded guilty to assault in September 2001 in two cases involving attacks on women in the park in May and July 2001. He is now serving a 10-year sentence at a federal prison in Adelanto, Calif., and is eligible for parole in 2011.

The police recently submitted new evidence to the United States attorney’s office after an inmate serving time with Mr. Guandique contacted them, law enforcement officials said. The inmate said Mr. Guandique told him he had killed Ms. Levy, the sources said.

In the initial investigation, Mr. Guandique told the police that he had seen Ms. Levy in the park, but that he had not harmed her. The police called Mr. Guandique a “person of interest,” but said he had passed a polygraph test...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Innocent man died in prison; real rapist is "sorry"

Justice Finally Served
Harry Cabluck, AP
Feb. 7, 2009

A man who died in prison while serving time for a rape he didn't commit was cleared Friday by a judge who called the state's first posthumous DNA exoneration "the saddest case" he'd ever seen.

Calling it "the saddest case" he'd ever seen, a judge exonerates Timothy Cole, who was convicted of rape in 1985. DNA evidence helped clear Cole -- and pointed to Jerry Wayne Johnson instead. Here, Johnson walks into a Texas courtroom on Friday, past a portrait of Cole. This was the first case in Texas history where DNA cleared someone who had died in prison.

Cole was convicted of raping a Texas Tech University student in Lubbock in 1985 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He died in 1999 at age 39 from asthma complications.

DNA tests in 2008 connected the crime to Jerry Wayne Johnson, who is serving life in prison for separate rapes. Johnson testified in court Friday that he was the rapist in Cole's case and asked the victim and Cole's family to forgive him.

"I'm responsible for all this. I'm truly sorry for my pathetic behavior and selfishness. I hope and pray you will forgive me," Johnson said.

The Innocence Project of Texas said Cole's case was the first posthumous DNA exoneration in state history...

Cole and his relatives for years claimed he was innocent, but no one believed them until evidence from the original rape kit was tested for DNA. Cole had refused to plead guilty before trial in exchange for probation, and while in prison, he refused to admit to the crime when it could have earned him release on parole.

The Innocence Project pressed for a hearing to start the process of clearing Cole's name. Cole's family now wants Gov. Rick Perry to issue a formal pardon.