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Levy Family Attorney Billy Martin Discusses Case

Aired August 17, 2001 - 12:30   ET


ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: It's been 109 days since intern Chandra Levy was declared missing. Today on BURDEN OF PROOF I'll talk one-on- one with the Levy family attorney, Billy Martin.


SUSAN LEVY, MOTHER OF CHANDRA LEVY: I want my daughter home. I want her alive. I want the truth to come out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't know what happened to Chandra Levy. We've got to explore all possibilities.

ABBE LOWELL, ATTORNEY: Congressman Condit has never been and is not now a suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're going to be looking for is any evidence of an attempt to clean up the potential scene there.

BILLY MARTIN, ATTORNEY: The Levy family is extremely upset with Congressman Condit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Withheld information from the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try to see if there's something out there who might have some information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a family's 24-year-old daughter is missing, and has not been heard from.


COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF. In the next couple of weeks a new rotation of young and eager interns will be hitting the streets of Washington.

While interns come and go in this city of power and intrigue, the face of one intern will never be forgotten: Chandra Levy. It's been over three months since Chandra Levy was last seen at a Washington gym.

Since her disappearance the world has learned every detail of this young woman's life, including her intimate relationship with California Congressman Gary Condit. Joining us today, the lawyer for Chandra Levy's parents, Billy Martin. Billy, first of all thank you for joining us. Thank you for coming to talk with us.

Billy, a few nights ago Abbe Lowell was on CNN and he made a statement about the fact that he'd been trying to contact you. Let's put that statement up now for our viewers. I'm going to read it.

It said: five weeks ago now, July 13th, I wrote a letter to the Levy's attorney and in that letter I said that we would be very happy to provide him and his private investigators with all the information they need, because there's so much information out there that's wrong.

That was on July 13th, I've never heard from the Levys or their lawyer about the information.

Billy, why haven't you contacted Abbe Lowell?

BILLY MARTIN, LEVY FAMILY ATTORNEY: I have known Abbe for a very long time. I have a lot of respect for him as a lawyer. He was a former partner of mine at a law firm, but that statement's not true.

He's mistaken and I know he must not understand that he's mistaken. We received that letter on the 13th and two days later by messenger we wrote a letter back to Abbe telling him that we would not be interested in meeting with Abbe, we wanted our investigators to meet with the congressman.

We have responded to the letter, we rejected and declined to accept the offer that Abbe stand in the place of the congressman to provide an interview.

Roger, you have to understand that in any interview we want to interview the congressman. We believe the congressman has information. Abbe has told the media, his spokesperson, Ms. , has told the media that he's been cooperative. But we want to interview the congressman personally.

I do have trained investigators. I think the investigators would like to look the congressman in his eyes when he provides answers. They'd like to have the opportunity for follow-up.

I don't know of any circumstances where any investigator would accept the lawyer standing in to give the interview on behalf of a client. That's not acceptable.

COSSACK: But Abbe Lowell says more than that, says that you haven't even tried to contact him for the purposes of trying to work something out, that perhaps you could meet with Congressman Condit.

Have you tried to contact him?

MARTIN: I've responded to him in writing. I will accept his offer and meet with him to receive that information, but I want my investigators -- it's not even necessary that I participate in the interview. I want the investigators to meet with the congressman and personally interview him.

I want them to read his body language. I want them to read his eyes. I want them to be able to have follow-up questions when they have an interview with him.

The congressman agreed to that interview. I will tell you that when we met at the Jefferson Hotel following the conference at the Watergate, the congressman said that he would meet with our investigators, as long as it did not interfere with the police investigation. His story has now changed.

He's now saying he will not meet with my investigators, that he will be interviewed through his lawyer, and that is not what he personally promised and told the Levy family. He guaranteed them, if it will not interview with the investigation by the authorities, I will meet with your investigators.

Chief Ramsey has told me, and I'm sure he will say publicly, that he does not object to the congressman meeting with my investigators, The congressman for some reason is now backing away from his offer and we want that interview to take place.

COSSACK: Have you requested again that the congressman meet with your investigators at any time since that meeting and he has backed off of it?

MARTIN: We've requested in writing, yes. I've sent a letter to Abbe Lowell and asked for him to meet with my investigators, not with Mr. Lowell, and we've put that in writing.

COSSACK: Now, Abbe Lowell also said that Congressman Condit would meet with the Levys one-on-one without any investigators, without any lawyers, without any police, but he would meet with the Levys and answer their questions.

Why hasn't that been done? Why don't the Levys want to meet with him?

MARTIN: Well I can't say that they do not want to meet with him. I think the Levys are in such grief and pain right now, and they believe that Congressman Condit has caused that grief and pain. They believe it's been the actions of Congressman Condit -- he did not come forward.

It took almost 8 weeks for him to admit that he had a relationship with their daughter. Both Dr. and Mrs. Levy personally spoke with the congressman and asked him: we've heard allegation and rumors, we believe you're having -- were having an affair with Chandra. Is it true? And he denied it.

They don't have any confidence in his credibility. They think that he's lied to them, and they don't think that would further the investigation. It may help Gary Condit feel better, it may relieve some sense of guilt or responsibility, and it may play well to the public, but it will not further the investigation. For him to assist we need for him to meet with our investigators and to tell them what he knows about Chandra, her mood and her whereabouts.

COSSACK: Abbe Lowell said that there's a lot of misinformation about Gary Condit that the press had been reporting. For example, he said the notion that she was required not to carry any ID or not to carry a wallet is just false, in her relationship with Congressman Condit. He just says that's simply not true. Is it not true?

MARTIN: Well I don't know. Unless Mr. Lowell has personal knowledge of the relationship and the requirements of Gary Condit to Chandra he can't answer that.

Chandra has told relatives that those were the conditions, I don't know how Abbe Lowell can make a public statement saying it's not true. He could say that his client has told him that that is not accurate, but he can't say it's not true.

COSSACK: Why is it so important that Congressman Condit speak with your investigators in light of the fact he has spoken with the police, and he has spoken with the FBI, all of whom are trained investigators? Why should he have to meet with your investigators?

MARTIN: Roger, we have our investigators, and they are two retired D.C. homicide detectives who are working almost full time on this matter, and we have several others part-time investigators, who we from time to time will send to the west coast, to California, to Nevada, to interview witnesses.

We have conducted interviews that the authorities have not conducted. We think that that information, information received from Congressman Condit, will assist in the investigation.

Congressman Condit has not told our investigators any information that he's provided to the police. We want our investigators to meet with him and just to learn that information.

COSSACK: Now you will admit, of course, that Congressman Condit is under no responsibility to meet with your investigators.

MARTIN: Well, it depends, Roger. I won't admit that. I will admit that as a criminal suspect he's under no responsibility.

COSSACK: Well, wait. Billy, no one has claimed that he's a suspect. The police have been very careful in saying that he's not a suspect.

MARTIN: As a criminal suspect he's under no responsibility. As a congressman, as a human being who was having a relationship with a woman who is now missing, he does have a responsibility.

COSSACK: You would you say that's a moral responsibility?

MARTIN: I would say it's a moral responsibility and it's a responsibility that Gary Condit owes to himself, to the Levys and to his constituents.

I can't say what it is that he's hiding. He's hiding something, He's acting very suspiciously, and we just want to know what it is that he can provide to our investigators that may help in either finding Chandra or solving this mystery.

COSSACK: All right, let's take a break.

Up next, more with Billy Martin. Stay with us.


LOWELL: I think everybody understand that the Levys have a keen interest in keeping their daughter's name and picture in the news. I think they have felt over the last couple of weeks it began to fade.

I think the media has proven that the way you get this story back in the news is you say the name Gary Condit.



As of June 30th, 428,228 people had been reported missing across the nation. Of those cases, approximately three-quarters have been resolved and 98,697 remain active.



COSSACK: Washington police continue to say there are no suspects in the Chandra Levy missing person's case. However, one man continues to stay under the public's watchful eye, California Congressman Gary Condit. .

Billy, when we left our last block, we played an excerpt of Abbe Lowell saying, you know, he felt bad for Levys but he said there's one way to keep this case in the public eye, which is obviously in their best interest, and that's by mentioning the name Gary Condit, Gary Condit, Gary Condit.

In light of the fact, as I said earlier, that the police continue to say that he is not a suspect in this case, is it fair to continue to keep dwelling on Gary Condit for either the Levys or yourself?

MARTIN: We don't dwell on Gary Condit. We would like to move beyond Congressman Condit as having anything to with Chandra's disappearance. I don't know what, if anything -- if anything, Roger -- the Congressman had to do with her disappearance, but his actions are so suspicious.

The night before a search -- he volunteers for a search. The night of the search, just before the authorities arrive, he tries to hide a box that may have some relevance. Why would somebody do that if they did not feel they had something to hide? It's his actions which will not permit investigators, my investigators and, I'm sure, the police, to move past Congressman Condit.

We're interviewing other people. There are other leads that we're following. He is not the only lead that we have, but because he continues to not speak out, because he won't meet investigators, because he's lied in the past and because of his actions, he's suspicious. And we just want to know why he's acting that way.

COSSACK: What other leads do you have and why haven't you spoken publicly about those other leads?

MARTIN: Because the authorities -- both the authorities and our investigators are pursuing those leads. And if we made them public, we think that evidence could be destroyed, witnesses could be approached, or we may not learn the truthful answers to those questions.

COSSACK: But isn't it -- isn't it -- what I'm suggesting is perhaps the argument could be made that it's unfair to Gary Condit, if you do have other leads, not to speak out and to let the public think that Gary Condit is the focus, certainly of the Levys and perhaps of the police. even though they keep denying it.

MARTIN: Roger, our investigation is into the disappearance of a 24-year-old young lady. There's no telling where she is. We did not know if she's still alive. We hope and pray that she is still alive. This is the investigation. It's not about Gary Condit. It's not about Gary Condit's electability, it's not about how he's performed in Congress, it's not about how he votes on the Hill. It's about Chandra Levy. And we think that he could be more helpful and we'd like to move past Gary Condit. But it's not about him, it's about this missing young lady.

COSSACK: All right, the other night on "LARRY KING LIVE," Chandra Levy's mother, Susan Levy, made a statement about her feelings regarding the involvement of Gary Condit. Let's listen to that statement.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": The other night you said if Gary Condit were not in your daughter's life she'd be here today.


KING: What do you mean?

LEVY: I feel like that for some reason, internally, that as a mother, that it's possible that my daughter would have graduated and she would be here with us spending her summer.


COSSACK: So Mrs. Levy says that but for Gary Condit, or perhaps because Gary Condit was in Chandra Levy's life, this is part of the reason why Chandra Levy is missing. Now, she didn't go as far as saying that Congressman Condit is the cause for her to be missing, but she came fairly close, I would think.

What are her feelings about Condit, and what are her feelings about Condit's relationship and involvement in her daughter missing?

MARTIN: Dr. and Mrs. Levy are in a lot of pain. When I speak with them, it's hard to have a conversation without one or both of them crying, without one or both of them breaking down. There's not a day that goes by that they do not grieve just for absence of Chandra.

I will tell you that they feel that had Chandra not met Gary Condit, had she not changed her ways to conform to what he wanted, don't bring out these, in spite of what his lawyer says, we believe that she was directed to not carry ID, that she was...

COSSACK: Well, Billy, look. She was a consenting adult.


COSSACK: I mean, everyone feels -- of course, I do, we all do. But in fact, Chandra Levy was a consenting adult who apparently knew he was married. I mean, she agreed to do these things, if they're true.

MARTIN: We're not criticizing the relationship. Any parent of a 24-year-old who realizes that their daughter is having a relationship with a married man is going to be in pain about that relationship. Whether she consented or not, they don't have to accept it. They don't have to be pleased with it. They can be very disappointed.

If it's not just a married man, but a married man who happens to be the elected congressman for their district -- that's hurt and that's pain, and there's no need for them to ever forgive him or to even not be upset with their daughter. But they're upset about the relationship. Will that ever change? I can't tell you, but they feel that Gary Condit is responsible for the hurt and the pain that Chandra went through.

COSSACK: Do they feel that he's responsible for the fact that she's missing?

MARTIN: They don't know the answer to that, and that's what our investigation is hoping to prove. They didn't know the answer. Is he a suspect in their minds? Yes.

COSSACK: All right, let's take a break. When we come back, more with Billy Martin. Stay with us.



SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA'S MOTHER: What surprise me is I said to Mr. Gary Condit, my daughter is missing and do you happen to know where she is, and I think I remember asking him whether he had an affair with her.


LEVY: And he says: No, I only have a professional relationship with here.

And I said, what do you mean?

Well, she asked me about a law school and about the FBI, and I suggested to her to take a possible second language, and Spanish would help her in her career.

So I point-blankly asked him if he was having an affair, and, you know, matter-of-factly he said: no.


COSSACK: All right, Billy, it now appears that in fact that wasn't the truth. Is that the reason that the -- that your clients, the Levys, feel that Congressman Condit knows more than he's saying or could help more than been he's doing.

MARTIN: Roger, I think the chief-of-police, Chief Ramsey, here in the District, has been quoted as saying that the delay, nearly eight weeks, and Congressman Condit coming forward and admitting the relationship hindered the investigation.

I think the Levys are as much upset with Congressman Condit hindering the investigation, the fact that he would not admit that he had a relationship, the fact that he would not admit that he knew her around the time of her disappearance, they believe, and I support their belief, that that slowed down the investigation.

COSSACK: Billy, you've had investigators working on this case almost full-time since you were hired on to represent the Levys.

Let's ask some questions that perhaps your investigators may have found out. Was Chandra Levy pregnant when she disappeared?

MARTIN: Roger, that may be a crucial piece of this investigation. I know that the authorities are looking into that, we have looked into that, and I cannot answer that without in some way disclosing a crucial piece of this investigation.

COSSACK: Do you know? Without telling us whether -- what the answer is, do you know?

MARTIN: I really can't answer that question. I can't answer that question.

COSSACK: It has been reported that Congressman Condit's wife was here the weekend that Chandra Levy disappeared; that in fact that was not her practice to come to Washington very often, but in fact she was here that weekend. Have you investigated that? Is that true?

MARTIN: I think the public record supports that conclusion, that she did not frequently visit Washington, that that was one of the rare occasions that she did come to D.C. Why was she here that weekend and what were their plans? I can't answer any of those questions.

COSSACK: There's a report today that the Levys are going to go to Congressman Condit and ask him to keep the $10 thousand that his office has put up as part of the reward for information leading to the finding, of course, of their daughter. Is that true?

MARTIN: That's not accurate, and I would recommend against them returning that money. We believe it may be money that helps people to provide information.

Roger, those funds are now close to or in excess of $250 thousand. We're hoping if somebody does not out of the sense of just moral or public responsibility want to provide that information, that that great sum of money might help people provide information. And I would recommend to Levys that they keep the $10 thousand that he donated early on in that fund.

COSSACK: Doesn't that put him in sort of a tough spot, Billy: on one hand, taking money from a person that they've have done everything but short of accuse of being involved in the disappearance of their daughter.

MARTIN: Roger, if that money or that reward will help to bring Chandra back or to obtain information on her whereabouts, they will keep the money in there.

COSSACK: All right. There's been a report that your clients are going to campaign actively against Congressman Condit when he runs -- if and when he runs for office. And -- are they? And do they believe he should resign?

MARTIN: Well, they're very private people. They, before Chandra's disappearance, became a worldwide matter of attention. They lived a very simple life in Ceras, a small town near Modesto, California. They , were not campaigners. They did not support -- actively support Gary Condit before. They're not going to become involved in politics. They just want information about their daughter or daughter back.

His campaign and his remaining in office is not of any concern to the Levys.

COSSACK: All right, Billy, I'm afraid we're out of time.

That's all the time we have for today. Thanks to Billy Martin and thank you for watching.

Today on "TALKBACK LIVE": The search for Chandra Levy will be part of free-for-all Friday with guest co-host Tavis Smiley, today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

And tune in Monday when we'll be talking to defense attorney Johnie Cochran about his involving a case concerning a recent shark attack.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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