(NEW YORK) — Chanel Lewis has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2016 murder of Karina Vetrano, who was beaten and strangled to death while out for a jog near her home in Queens.
The sentence was handed down by a judge who a day earlier rejected a defense motion to vacate Lewis’ conviction based on allegations of juror misconduct. Lewis, 22, was convicted after five hours of deliberations following his second trial after the first ended in a mistrial.
“I’m sorry to the family. I didn’t do this,” Lewis said before he was sentenced.
Cathie Vetrano, Karina’s mother, clutched her daughter’s pair of white work shoes as she addressed the judge.
“On Aug. 2, 2016, Chanel Lewis slaughtered me as well with the gruesome slaying of my soul,” she said. “The second you put your hands on a child of God, you rejected the Holy Spirit and acted out as the devil.”
Lewis was arrested in February 2017, six months after Karina Vetrano’s murder. After Lewis consented to a DNA swab, it matched the DNA found on Karina Vetrano’s body.
The Legal Aid Society, Lewis’ defense team, made at least two attempts to get a new trial. His lawyers said they had received an anonymous letter from an alleged law enforcement officer claiming prosecutorial misconduct. One juror also said alleged misconduct had taken place during deliberations. Both motions by the defense were rejected by Judge Michael Aloise.
“This is a lose-lose situation for both families … parents’ worst nightmare, child goes out for a jog and never returns,” Judge Aloise said before rendering the sentencing. “In the future, you’ll find that the followers of this case would have moved on and you will be alone, but I tell you what, when that day come around you’ll be in a cage.”
The Legal Aid Society said in a statement: “While there is no denying that Karina Vetrano’s death is tragic and that her family and friends suffered a great loss, every aspect of this case – from the police investigation to jury deliberations – was propelled by a desire to convict at all costs.This was done without any concern for Mr. Lewis’s Constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. We will appeal this case to the Appellate Division to secure Mr. Lewis the justice that he deserves.”
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