A perpetually angry loner sexually assaulted and murdered a jogger in Queens because he was sexually frustrated, prosecutors said on the last day of his trial.
Chanel Lewis, 22, is accused of killing 30-year-old Karina Vetrano when the pair crossed paths in August 2016.
Lawyers said Lewis had no girlfriend, no friends, no job and was ‘angry all the time’ when he decided to vent that anger on Vetrano in an otherwise random attack.
‘On this day he took his anger out on a pretty young woman, a girl in a halter top’, District Attorney Brad Leventhal said.
Chanel Lewis, 22, killed jogger Karina Vetrano in Queens in 2016 out of pent-up anger and sexual frustration, prosecutors have said
Lewis had no job, no friends and no girlfriend when he decided to vent his anger on Vetrano as the pair crossed paths in an otherwise random attack, is was claimed
Vetrano was hit in the back of the head, dragged off a path, sexually assaulted and then strangled to death as she fought for her life
Lawyers for Lewis argued that DNA evidence linking him to the crime scene, including some found under his fingernails, is not reliable.
Attorney Robert Moeller said the crime scene had been corrupted by various people, including Vetrano’s father, and therefore couldn’t be trusted.
When Lewis appeared to be confessing the crime to police along with details of the grisly murder, he was actually just repeating information he learned from the news, Moeller added.
Lewis faces faces life in prison if convicted of murdering Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in Spring Creek Park not far from her home in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens.
Karina Vetrano’s parents Phil and Cathy Vetrano are seen in court on the final day of summations
Lewis’ mother Veta leaves Queens Supreme Court after hearing evidence in her son’s trial
Vetrano was punched in the face, thrown to the ground, violently sexually assaulted and then strangled in a marsh, about a block away from her house.
Father Philip Vetrano would later find her body there.
Authorities said that the victim fought for her life until the very end, biting her attacker so hard that her teeth cracked.
Vetrano’s mother and father have been present in court throughout the trial, stoically bearing witness as the prosecution laid out its evidence for the jury.
On Tuesday, prosecutors introduced evidence taken from Lewis’ black ZTE cell phone, which they found at his Brooklyn home, according to the New York Daily News.
Josue Rivera, a detective with the NYPD’s Computer Crimes Squad, testified in Queens Supreme Court that investigators recovered the device from Lewis’ dresser in his bedroom.
The phone contained two photos of the victim, Vetrano, 30, as well as a photo of the crime scene, Rivera testified.
Philip Vetrano (left), the victim’s father, later found her body in the woods. He has been present every day throughout the trial alongside the victim’s mother Cathy (right)
Lawyers for Lewis say DNA evidence linking him to the crime is untrustworthy and that during an apparent police confession, he was actually repeating evidence he heard from the news
The pictures were taken from online news articles about the crime.
Prosecutors said that the phone contained a search history of 137 searches, among them the Wikipedia page for the Catholic Sacrament of Penance.
It is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church in which adherents obtain absolution for sins committed against others.
Lewis is also alleged to have searched a news article titled ‘After a Crime, the Price of a Second Chance,’ as well as ‘Miranda warning,’ ‘arraignment,’ and ‘what happens after a felony conviction?’
Rivera was asked by Lewis’ defense attorney, Julia Burke, whether the name ‘Karina Vetrano’ was ever searched by Lewis on his cell phone.
‘You can’t testify that the name Karina Vetrano was ever search by the user, is that correct?’ she asked.
‘That is correct,’ the detective said.
Despite making a videotaped confession, in which he admitted to killing Vetrano, saying he spotted her at random and snapped, Lewis pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and aggravated sex abuse.
His lawyers have argued that the confession was coerced by keeping Lewis isolated during his six-hour interrogation.
Lewis reportedly refused to speak with white detectives and only confessed when a black detective was brought in.
His remarks to detectives that he didn’t like people ‘over there’, referring to the largely Italian-American Howard Beach neighborhood, led to speculation that the attack may have been racially motivated.
In February, a judge decided to let DNA evidence and the videotaped confession be used at trial.
Lewis’ attorneys previously questioned the validity of his DNA sample from a consensual cheek swab, which was compared to DNA evidence recovered from under the victim’s fingernails, and the manner in which his confession was gained.