NEW YORK — Opening statements wrapped up Monday in the retrial of a man accused of killing a woman who was attacked while running near her family’s New York City home
“He squeezed and he squeezed and he squeezed,” said Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal. “He choked her until she couldn’t resist anymore. He choked her until she couldn’t struggle anymore. He choked her until she couldn’t breathe anymore. He choked her until she died, alone, scared.”
Chanel Lewis, 22, is accused of killing 30-year-old Karina Vetrano as she ran on a park trail in Howard Beach, Queens, in August 2016. Prosecutors said Vetrano had been sexually abused. Her father discovered the body.
Despite DNA evidence that authorities said linked Lewis to the scene and a taped confession, the first trial ended in a hung jury in November. Unlike the first trial, Vetrano’s mother is expected to testify against Lewis.
On Monday, the defense returned to its previous arguments, saying the confession was coerced by detectives who wore Lewis down until he finally gave them what they wanted, “a story,” and that the DNA evidence was suspect.
“This awful crime was not committed by that young man,” said defense attorney Jen Cheung. “Chanel did not murder Karina. He did not sexually assault her either. Ladies and gentlemen, you won’t hear evidence linking Chanel to a sexual assault. You won’t see Chanel’s blood or body fluid, shoeprints or hair at the crime scene. You won’t see his fingerprints at the crime scene either.”