Forensic Errors In Chandra Levy Murder Case

9:28 PM, Feb 3, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Recently disclosed errors in the treatment of evidence the high-profile Chandra Levy murder case are frustrating some of the victim's family members.

"I'm not surprised by that information. There have been mistakes made from the very beginning and that's what happens in Washington, DC," said Levy's aunt, Linda Katz in a 9 NEWS NOW interview.

Pre-trial hearings in the case disclosed that prosecutors either misplaced or lost a sample of hair taken from a skull near the location where Levy's body was discovered in May, 2002.

It was earlier revealed that a female lab technician's DNA was found on some of Levy's clothing and that DNA from a male, suspected to be another technician or police officer, was found on another article of clothing.

Levy, a Capitol Hill intern, had been declared missing in May, 2001 and the case gained national attention when the investigation revealed Levy was having an affair with a California congressman.

In January, 2009, authorities charged Ingmar Guandique with Levy's murder, based, in part, on statements he allegedly made in prison while serving time for an unrelated crime.

"It could potentially be serious," said Marymount University Forensic Sciences professor Anne Cupero of the evidence errors.

"Often police departments and laboratory technicians do make mistakes in allowing their DNA to end up within some samples. Usually that's something that can be separated out. However, what the defense attorney makes of this could be something conceivably large," she said.

"A defense attorney could say that there has been tampering of the evidence. A defense attorney could say that someone in law enforcement may want to cover up something. Those are not reasonable to the law enforcement community and to those of us in the field. We wouldn't find that reasonable but, to a jury, they might actually find that reasonable," Cupero told 9 NEWS NOW.

"I think law enforcement and laboratory workers do a very fine job of caring for the evidence and keeping a chain of custody. I think this is a situation where several different things have happened all at one time and it seems to make it a larger error than it really is," Cupero said.

Levy family members see things differently. "They've hidden things. They've mistreated information. They've mistreated our family. It's been going on for years," Levy's aunt Linda Katz said.

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