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Chandra Levy Update: Ex-Congressman Gary Condit Denies Killing Intern

Chandra Levy Update: Ex-Congressman Gary Condit Denies Killing Intern
Chandra Levy with Gary Condit (Personal Photo)

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) Former Congressman Gary Condit took the stand Monday and told jurors that he didn't murder intern Chandra Levy and that he cooperated with investigators when Levy disappeared nearly a decade ago.

PICTURES: Chandra Levy Murdered

A Salvadoran immigrant, Ingmar Guandique, is on trial for murdering and attempting to assault Levy back in 2001.

Prosecutors say Guandique had a history of assaulting female joggers in Rock Creek Park, where Levy's remains were found.

The Washington intern's disappearance - her body was not discovered until more than a year after she went missing - caused a national sensation when she was romantically linked to then Rep. Gary Condit. Authorities once considered the California lawmaker a prime suspect, but no longer believe he had anything to do with her death.

In court, Condit continued to evade direct questions about whether he had an intimate relationship with Levy.

Condit testified Monday that he fully cooperated with the police investigation, despite his concerns that detectives were "incompetent" and out to get him.

The only question he refused to answer, he said, was when a detective asked in an initial interview if he'd had a sexual relationship with Levy.

Condit said he responded: "If you can tell me why that's relevant, I can answer the question." He said the detective never answered and the interview ended.

Until that interview - about a week after Levy went missing - Condit said he never realized he was considered a suspect. He had called D.C. police at the urging of Levy's father to make sure they were taking Levy's disappearance seriously, and he assumed that initial interview with police was to provide him an update on the investigation's status.

Prosecutor Amanda Haines never asked Condit if he and Levy had an affair, but she did ask why he never acknowledged an affair. His voice broke slightly, and he said it was "purely based on principle."

"I think we're all entitled to some level of privacy...It seems like in this country we've lost a sense of decency. I didn't commit any crime; I don't think I've done anything wrong."

On cross-examination, though, public defender Mario Hawilo put the question to Condit directly: Did you ever have an intimate relationship with Levy?"

"I have already stated I'm not going to respond to those questions," Condit said.

Hawilo persisted until Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher told her to move on.

Levy, 24, had just completed an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when she disappeared. When Guandique was charged last year with killing her, the illegal immigrant from El Salvador had been serving a 10-year sentence for separate assaults in Rock Creek Park, where Levy's remains were found scattered on rugged terrain off one of the park's many trails.

The defense argues that police botched the investigation and have made Guandique a scapegoat for their failures.