NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A grieving family faced their loved one’s killer in court on Tuesday.
It was a highly anticipated day and an emotional one inside Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens. Lewis, 22, learned his fate and even yawned while Judge Aloise was reading it, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
Web Extra: Karina Vetrano’s Family Shares Victim Impact Statements At Sentencing
The sentencing was the moment the Vetrano family had been waiting more than two and a half years for. Members of the family offered passionate testimonies in the courtroom ahead of sentencing for Lewis, the man who will now serve life in prison for her death.
“There are no more Merry Christmases, no more happy New Years, no more happy birthdays, no more pleasure in life, no more smiles, no more happiness. Those were all taken by that convicted murdering rapist,” said Phil Vetrano, the victim’s father.
Lewis was found guilty of killing and sexually assaulting the 30-year-old while she was out for a jog in Spring Creek Park in 2016. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
Web Extra: Defense And Judge Speak During Sentencing
Karina Vetrano’s father found her lifeless body. Her mother, Cathy Vetrano, brought a piece of her daughter into the courtroom.
“You can only begin to imagine the pain, the anguish of finding your baby brutally beaten, her neck swollen and bruised knowing she was dead, unable to help her, to save her, to protect her,” Phil Vetrano said.
“These are Karina’s shoes. These are the shoes she put on the morning of Aug. 2 as she prepared to work and wore throughout the workday. As tiny as they are, your honor, these are the shoes of giant, a valiant warrior and a queen,” Cathy Vetrano added.
At times, Lewis could be seen over her shoulder.
“The vacant expression you show is merely a reflection of your detached and empty soul,” Cathy Vetrano said to her daughter’s killer, adding, “The very second you laid your loathsome hand on a child of God, my daughter, my innocent daughter, you rejected the Holy Spirit and carried out the work of Satan.”
The delayed sentencing came after Judge Aloise ruled Monday against claims of juror misconduct in the case. Karina Vetrano’s sister spoke of the long road her family has been on.
“My sister is dead, a thought I cannot grasp even after enduring countless dates, two trials, heinous accusations against my family and a circus of a defense. I cannot accept my baby sister is dead,” she said.
The defense spoke on behalf of Lewis and then he said just a few words.
“The only thing I want to say judge is that I’m innocent. I’m sorry for the family’s loss, but I didn’t do this,” Lewis said.
To which Judge Aloise replied, “You’re protestations of being innocent, that was not designed for me. It was designed for your followers, I’m sure. But in the not to distant future you’re gonna wake up and you’re gonna find a lot of these followers are gonna have moved on. And you’re gonna be by yourself.”
Behind the Lens: CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez On Covering The Case
Bearing his daughter’s name on his back, Phil Vetrano gave a statement to Lewis from Karina: “She told me if you stand up here in court and ask for her forgiveness, tell her your sorry, she will forgive you. Remember, those are not my words and I will never forgive you.”
After the sentencing Lewis’ mother, Veta Lewis, and his supporters were seen following the prosecuting attorneys, accusing the district attorney’s office and the judge of racial bias, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Two men were arrested for kneeling in the street and blocking traffic outside the courthouse. Veta Lewis vowed to fight to clear her son’s name.
“As a mother, I still believe and I know that Chanel, my son, is innocent,” she said. “I am here to represent my son, and I will keep fighting for Chanel in the name of Jesus. I will keep on fighting until the last breath leaves my body.”
Phil Vetrano also offered some final words.
“Karina got justice and the murderer got his justice,” Phil Vetrano said.
The defense said it plans to appeal the case.