WASHINGTON - There is new information in the Chandra Levy murder case and the reason why prosecutors suddenly dropped the charges against Ingmar Guandique. A woman has come forward to say she has evidence the star witness in the case has been lying and that she has it on tape.
Guandique was scheduled to be retried for the murder of Levy in October until a woman came forward last week to say she secretly taped Armando Morales talking about the case and admitted to lying on the stand when Guandique was first convicted back in 2010.
After prosecutors met with the woman and listened to the tapes, they decided they could no longer rely on their star witness and dismissed the charges.
The woman who came forward with the evidence against Morales is an actress who goes by the stage name of Babs Proller, but her real name is Beate Brandl. She would not talk to us on Friday and instead had her attorney release this statement, which reads in part:
"It is by simple coincidence that Ms. Proller had any involvement in this tragic situation. Ms. Proller became aware of information relevant to the case and she conveyed that information to all of the appropriate people. The prosecutors and defense attorneys and Ms. Levy. She did this because she believed then, and she believes now, it was the right thing to do.”
Sources familiar with the investigation said Morales is now in a witness protection program and the two met at a Maryland hotel where they were neighbors.
After learning who Morales was and his connection to the Levy case, Proller began taping their conversations. Whatever was said was enough for Proller to go straight to Levy's mother, Susan, in California, who in turn took the information to the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Defense attorney Bernie Grimm, who has followed the case very closely, said Morales was the key to a conviction.
"He's the lynchpin,” he said. “They don't get to a jury without him. Without him, there are no forensics, there are no eyewitnesses.”
Morales told the court in November 2010 that Guandique confessed to him in a federal prison cell in 2006. The two were gang members, and Morales said Guandique wanted it known that although he killed Chandra Levy, he did not rape her.
"Very compelling, very believable for these reasons,” said Grimm. “He wasn't perfect. A lot of informants will be perfect and say he admitted to me that he robbed a bank and all the details. He gave facts that were inconsistent with the government’s theory of a sexual assault. He gave facts that did not put Guandique in the worst light possible, which to me made it all the more believable."
The reason Morales is in witness protection and living in Maryland is because he was going to be the star witness again at Guandique's second trial.
The first was thrown out after defense attorneys learned Morales was not truthful when he told the court he had never previously come forward as an informer and had in fact worked with law enforcement in California.
However, here is another twist. Proller also has some baggage of her own. She has faced theft and fraud charges in the past in Anne Arundel County. Court records also show she has faced the same charges in western Maryland.
Proller refused to talk to us so we could not question her about those charges or her claims she had recorded Morales admitting to lies.
One other note – Maryland is a two-party state and Proller would have been breaking the law if she recorded Morales without his knowledge.