Karina Vetrano’s parents react to guilty verdict in daughter’s murder, while suspect’s family questions it

HOWARD BEACH, Queens -- The parents of Karina Vetrano made their first detailed public statements Tuesday since jurors concluded that DNA evidence, two video recorded confessions, and medical records indicated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Vetrano, 30, was killed by Chanel Lewis, 22.

Meanwhile, the family and supporters of Lewis, a young man with no job or friends, known to wander through this neighborhood on his own, are questioning the verdict rendered Monday night. The victim's family, however, said there's no question that the verdict was just.

"I'm thanking those jurors for listening to the overwhelming evidence," Cathie Vetrano said to a gathering of reporters on the front porch steps of the Vetranos' home.

Her husband, Phil, said that the verdict, announced shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday night, was "just total jubilation."

"And all the anger, all the years of pain, but mostly the anger, was lifted and gone," Phil Vetrano added.

Lewis was convicted on three counts of murder and one count of sexual assault. The jury concluded that he brutally beat Karina Vetrano to death, and then sexually assaulted her after she'd gone out running on August 2, 2016.

On Tuesday, some of Lewis's supporters, who've gotten close to the young man's family, said that they were speaking on the family's behalf when they questioned the verdict.

"How does a man walk in to Howard Beach and not be seen" by nearby surveillance cameras, community activist Michael Thomas asked, "[or] on any camera in Howard Beach at all?"

This was a retrial that came four months after another jury deadlocked early into the deliberating process. In that case, however, Judge Michael Aloise did not give instructions for the jury to keep trying to reach an agreement. That order is called an Allen charge.

A longtime veteran attorney and legal analyst who's practiced for decades in the same court as the Chanel Lewis trial said that he respects the judge greatly. Still, Marvyn Kornberg said that he sees that key questions in the Vetrano murder case are not yet put to rest.

Lewis's lawyers, from the Legal Aid Society, have already announced that they intend to appeal the case.

When asked by PIX11 what the appeal issues in this case are, Kornberg said that the prospects for a longterm appeal are great.

"The appellate issues in this case, may take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court," Kornberg said.

Because "no Allen charge was given to that prior jury," Kornberg continued, "the effect is something, I think, [that] would affect the first opinion in the courts."

It's unclear at this point, the legal analyst said, how the outcome of the first trial would affect any appellate decisions, since there was impasse among jurors in the first trial which could not be reconciled. That case ended in a mistrial, but because the judge never formally requested that the jury attempt reconciliation, it complicates the situation, according to Kornberg.

Meanwhile, Karina Vetrano's parents said that they're only looking ahead to the next court date in the case: sentencing. It's set for April 17.

They said that, in a case where there were allegations of overaggressive policing of Lewis because of his race (he's of African descent), that colorblind justice will be carried out.

"A savage demon," Cathie Vetrano called Lewis. "It has nothing to do with what color he is."

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