- 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 murder retrial of a man accused of killing a Queens jogger in 2016 continues today, with the victim’s father again taking the stand.
Chanel Lewis is accused of sexually assaulting and strangling Vetrano in Howard Beach, Queens.
This is the second trial for Lewis. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
On Wednesday, Phil Vetrano was shown surveillance video of him taking Karina to get pizza just a few hours before she was killed. In the first trial, the defense presented the possibility that Lewis’ DNA got on Karina because he went to the pizza place before her, touched the door and got his DNA on her when she later touched the door.
Cathy Vetrano didn’t testify in the first trial, but she spoke for the first time on Tuesday, tearfully recalling her last conversation with Karina in the family’s kitchen.
The mother 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 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.
The father’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 said 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.