NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The man convicted of murdering Queens jogger Karina Vetrano in 2016 will not be sentenced Wednesday.
Chanel Lewis, 22, strangled and sexually abused the 30-year-old while she was out for a jog in Spring Creek Park near her family’s Howard Beach home.
Wednesday’s sentencing was postponed until next week after the defense filed a motion alleging juror misconduct. A hearing will be held on that Monday.
Prosecutors said the motion further delays closure for the Vetrano family, but ultimately agreed with the judge’s decision to let the allegation play out in court, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
Behind The Lens: CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez On Covering The Case
Lewis’s mother held a bible over her head as she left the Queens criminal courtroom calling for justice for her son.
“My son, Chanel Lewis, is innocent. All I want for my son, what I want for my son, is justice for Chanel,” she said.
“The jury was tainted and the judge is biased. From the beginning, from the onset, Chanel did not get a fair shake,” family spokesperson Chris Banks added.
The jury foreman told CBS2 a taped confession and DNA evidence lead to a unanimous decision. He called it “a slam dunk case.”
“What was it that was really the most damning evidence?” CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez asked.
“Two things. The confession, it wasn’t coerced. DNA. DNA was so overwhelming,” Brian Morrissey said.
The foreman told Sanchez the jury was unanimous on its guilty verdict for the murder charges, but there were at least two holdouts not convinced on the sex abuse charges. Today, Lewis’ defense attorneys didn’t give details on the alleged juror misconduct.
Web Extra: Legal Expert On Alleged Juror Misconduct
Legal expert Cheryl Bader spoke to CBSN New York, saying there are several things that could have happened.
“So one might be that jurors go out and kind of investigate the case themselves, try to go to the scene or even speak to people who know about the case, or even learning through looking at the media, which the judge instructs them not to do,” Bader said.
The Vetranos did not speak after the ruling.
Both sides will return to court Monday when the judge holds a hearing on possible juror misconduct. The prosecution says it has affidavits from three jurors denying any misconduct took place.
Lewis’ supporters are confident he’ll be exonerated.
“NYPD, there’s a killer still loose. There’s a killer still loose because an innocent man they are trying to sentence,” said Charles Barron.
If the judge denies the defense motion, Lewis will be sentenced Tuesday.
Lewis’s defense team plans to appeal, saying he did not get a fair trial after the judge denied a request to consider an anonymous letter sent to his lawyers claiming prosecutors withheld evidence.
He faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.