Mental capacity of murder suspect in Karina Vetrano death called into question

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NEW YORK — A man arrested in connection with the death of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano allegedly gave police specific details about the murder, law enforcement sources say.

Law enforcement sources tell PIX11 that Chanel Lewis, 20, made two videotaped confessions where he gives "specific" details into how he killed Vetrano back in August 2016.

On Monday Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce would only say he is leaving it in the hands of the grand jury regarding the sex assault, saying he is confident that this is the sole suspect they are looking for thanks to a DNA match.

It was on Feb. 2 when an old tip from May 2016 led police to Chanel Lewis.

After a deep dive into their data, they found three summonses for trespassing and public urination in the area of Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach. That was enough to question Lewis, who voluntarily agreed to a DNA swab that came back as a match to DNA found underneath Vetrano's fingernails.

Lewis graduated in 2015 from Martin De Porres High School, a school comprised of "children experiencing emotional and behavioral problems."

Richard Lewis, the suspect's father denies that his son has any mental health issues.

"I don't know of it, says Lewis in regards to his son having been treated for any issues. "Only the doctors could tell you."

Richard Lewis described his son as an honor roll student who is not capable of such a heinous crime.

Just one day after Karina Vetrano's body was found, Richard admitted to PIX11 that he took his son to the hospital for numerous cuts and scratches that he saw on his sons' arms.

He says he does not see a coincidence into the timing of the two incidents.

Retired NYPD Sergeant Joseph Giacolone says there could be potential issues in court with that voluntary DNA sample if it turns out Lewis has a mental health problem.

"He is of age, but in order to give something, it has to be be done voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly," says Giacolone.

Giacolone says the defense will more than likely want that DNA profile thrown out, but says there is also the confession, which is tough to ignore.

Lewis is due back in court later this month.