NYC: Conviction in murder of woman jogger in Queens’ park – Defense claims ‘a complete miscarriage of justice’

In this Tuesday, March 26, 2019, file photo, defendant Chanel Lewis, right, is seated at the defense table at Supreme Court in the Queens Borough of New York, on the sixth day of his retrial for the August 2016 murder of Karina Vetrano. On Monday, April 1, 2019, a jury convicted Lewis of the murder. A previous trial ended in a hung jury. (Charles Eckert/Newsday via AP, Pool, File)

NEW YORK (AP) 04/01 — A man was convicted Monday of killing a woman out running near her New York City home in a case that stirred urban fears, helped change the state’s DNA-investigation rules and raised questions about race and police procedures.

News station video showed Karina Vetrano’s loved ones erupting in cheers as a Queens jury delivered in Chanel Lewis’ retrial, convicting him of murder and sexual abuse in Vetrano’s 2016 death. A previous trial ended in a hung jury in November; the second jury deliberated for only five hours, staying into the night to deliberate.

“Jubilation. Justice. Justice has been served,” the victim’s father, Phil Vetrano, told reporters while leaving court.

Lewis is set to be sentenced April 17 and faces up to life in prison.

Lewis’ attorneys, the Legal Aid Society, called the outcome “a complete miscarriage of justice.” They had unsuccessfully sought a hearing Monday after getting an anonymous letter saying that police had pursued two white suspects before taking DNA samples from hundreds of black men — in what the defense called a “race-biased dragnet” — and coming to focus on Lewis.

“Our client did not receive a fair trial,” the Legal Aid Society said, adding that it would appeal.

The New York Police Department said in a statement that the anonymous letter was “riddled with falsehoods and inaccuracies,” the investigation was painstaking and “the evidence clearly shows that Chanel Lewis is responsible for her death.”

Chief Queens Assistant District Attorney John Ryan called the case “horrifying.”

Phil Vetrano found his 30-year-old daughter’s body, sexually abused and strangled, in August 2016 in a park where they often went for runs together.

The attack redoubled the wariness of women who run alone, and it baffled investigators for a time. Lewis, 22, was arrested six months later.

Authorities said his DNA was found on Vetrano’s neck and cellphone and in a mixture of DNA under her fingernails. His own phone contained downloaded photos of the crime scene and searches for information about the case, police said.

And Lewis taped a confession, saying he was upset at someone else — a neighbor of his who played loud music — and “lost it” when he saw Vetrano.

“One thing led to another,” he said in the confession. “Hitting her and stuff like that.”

Lewis said he strangled Vetrano but didn’t sexually abuse her.

Lewis’ defense said that the DNA evidence hadn’t been gathered properly and that the confession was coerced and didn’t match Vetrano’s injuries or some other facts.

Before Lewis’ arrest, the investigation prompted police prosecutors to seek state permission to use a technique known as familial DNA searching — looking for people similar enough to be closely related to whoever left DNA at the crime scene, in hopes they will lead to a suspect.

The state Commission on Forensic Science ultimately agreed in June 2017 to allow familial DNA searching in murder, rape and some other cases. The decision came over the objections of civil libertarians who said the practice entangles law-abiding people in investigations because of their family ties.

By the time the commission gave its approval, Lewis had already been arrested.

https://www.apnews.com/3453896ea0c24e78bf2c6beb9d4436c0

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Confessions, Convictions, Courts & Trials, Crime & Criminals, Deaths, DNA Evidence, Evidence, Homicide, Murder/Attempted Murder, Sexual Assault/Sexual Misconduct, Victims of Crime

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × one =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.