March 20, 2019
Back in court for a retrial, mother of the murdered New York City jogger, Karina Vetrano, snapped at the Defense Attorney for carelessly getting her daughter’s name wrong.
On Tuesday, Karina’s mother Catherine testified for the first time in the case against her daughter’s alleged killer Chanel Lewis.
During Catherine’s cross-examination, Lewis’s defense attorney called her murdered daughter “Katrina” and quickly retorted, “Excuse me, her name is Karina.”
The case first appeared in court last year, but a deadlocked jury led to a mistrial and prosecutors aim to convict Karina’s accused killer with the retrial.
While on the stand, Catherine recounted the events that took place on August 2, 2016, when her husband found Karina’s battered body in a park close to their home.
She had gone on her regular run, which her father Phil often joined her on. When she didn’t return from her jog, Phil went to look for her and found her dumped body near a jogging path.
DNA found on Karina later matched that of the 22-year-old Lewis after he gave a sample of his DNA voluntarily. He confessed to the crime in two separate taped interviews, but his attorneys say the genetic evidence is lacking and the confession coerced.
Jury deliberations lasted for two days during which they requested various pieces of evidence and also video’s of Lewis recounting the events that happened that day.
In the end, seven jury members found Lewis guilty while five jurors declared him not guilty. The resulting hung jury led to a mistrial and now, the retrial.
Pleased with the outcome of the first trial, defense attorney Jenny Cheung said:
"The jury is understanding that DNA is not all of it -- confession is not all it. And there are issues in the case that you can all see that it is much more complex."
Queens County Prosecutor, Brad Leventhal is convinced of Lewis’s guilt. "He was angry, and he took it out on Karina Vetrano," Leventhal said. "His words. His words ... He is the man who strangled Karina Vetrano to death."
Lewis got arrested six months after Karina’s death. DNA found under her fingernails, neck and cell phone matched that of the accused, but he pled not guilty to charges of murder and sexual abuse.
Karina’s father is said to testify again during the retrial. During the first trial, the devastated father had to recall how he found his daughter’s battered and abused body face down in a marsh. Lewis faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted for the brutal murder and sexual assault of Karina Vetrano.
Chris Watts, who recently got convicted after he strangled his pregnant wife and two daughters to death, released new details about the murder following an extended confession from prison.
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