- Chanel Lewis is accused of sexually assaulting Karina Vetrano then strangling her while she was jogging near her Howard Beach home in August 2016.
- Prosecutors say Lewis admited to the crime on video, but the defense said the confessions were coerced.
- The first murder trial in this case ended with a hung jury in 2018.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The parents of a Queens jogger testified Tuesday at the retrial of the man charged with killing their daughter.
Cathy and Phil Vetrano both took the stand, reliving the most devastating day of their lives: The day their daughter Karina was murdered while on a run in Howard Beach, Queens.
This is the second trial for murder suspect Chanel Lewis. He allegedly assaulted and strangled Karina Vetrano as she jogged near her Howard Beach home in August 2016. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
Cathy vetrano didn’t testify then, but did for the first time today tearfully recalling her last conversation with Karina in the family’s kitchen. Cathy was in court for Monday’s opening statements.
Cathy Vetrano described her daughter as appearing “beautiful as always.”
She vividly remembered Karina dressed in a black sports bra and shorts before she went out for a run. She then later heard her husband yell an expletive because Karina had been gone too long and wasn’t answering her phone.
Phil Vetrano testified Karina had asked him to go on the run with her, but he declined because he had injured his back.
“I told her I don’t think it’s a good idea, and she said, don’t worry, I’ll be OK,” he said.
Vetrano said he called Karina by phone multiple times before heading out to look for her, then called an NYPD friend who launched a search for her.
Vetrano’s voice shook and he fought back tears describing finding his daughter, face down in the weeds in Spring Creek Park, lifting her body up to his and crying out “My baby! My baby!”
“I have to take her home. I have to take her home,” he said.
Cathy Vetrano says her son was the one who ran home to tell her Karina was found.
Moments later her husband returned.
“We just grabbed each other and we were just crying,” she said.
Prosecutors say Lewis confessed on video, twice.
The defense claims the confessions were coerced.