NEW YORK — The case of the murder of Karina Vetrano is now before a jury, yet again. Four months after a hung jury resulted in a mistrial for accused killer Chanel Lewis, 21, attorneys from both sides presented closing arguments in Lewis’s retrial, with the hope of a verdict this time.
Late Monday afternoon, the judge gave the jury instructions for deliberation in the case.
It followed a request by Lewis’s attorneys on Monday morning for another mistrial. They’d filed their petition after a Legal Aid lawyer had sent them an anonymous letter saying investigators had done a “race-based dragnet” in their pursuit of a suspect following the August 2, 2016 murder and sexual assault.
It was in the evening of that fateful day that investigators found the body of Vetrano, 30. She’d been out for a run in a remote park near her home in Howard Beach, when she was brutally attacked.
Lewis was arrested in February of 2017 for the crime, and confessed, twice, on video, to Vetrano’s murder. His DNA was also found on her neck and her cellphone. In addition, he sustained a serious hand injury the day of the murder. However, his claims that his confessions were coerced, as well as inconsistencies in his confessions left the first jury undecided.
Their doubts formed a big part of Lewis’s defense team’s closing arguments on Monday. Prosecutors, meanwhile, attempted to address those doubts with a spirited closing argument of their own. It lasted more than two hours.
The jury will begin deliberations in the retrial on Tuesday.