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Karina Vetrano murder retrial: Where the case stands now

If convicted, Chanel Lewis faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

The retrial of Chanel Lewis, right, in the

The retrial of Chanel Lewis, right, in the murder of Karina Vetrano, left, is expected to begin with jury selection this week. Photo Credit: Karina Vetrano; James Carbone

More than two years after the murder of Karina Vetrano shocked the tight-knit Queens community of Howard Beach, the man accused in her death will face a jury for the second time.

An avid runner, Vetrano had gone out alone for a jog on Aug. 2, 2016, and never returned home. Her battered body was found hours later in a marshy area of Spring Creek Park. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled, police said.

In February 2017, more than six months after Vetrano’s death, investigators arrested Chanel Lewis, then 20 years old, and charged him with second-degree murder and sex abuse. His first trial ended with a hung jury and the judge declared a mistrial in November.

A retrial has been set for this spring. If convicted, Lewis faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

Here’s what you need to know about the retrial, Lewis, the allegations against him and more.

When is the retrial?

Jury selection begins this week, with potential jurors scheduled to appear before Queens State Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise.

What happened in the first trial?

After one day of deliberations, Aloise declared a mistrial when jurors said they were unable to reach a verdict — a decision that drew criticism in the media for its hastiness. The jurors were split 7-5 in favor of conviction, according to sources familiar with the deliberations. Before the mistrial was announced, the prosecution and Vetrano’s parents also agreed that such a divide among the jurors would not be resolved with further deliberations, law enforcement sources said.

Did Lewis confess to killing Vetrano?

Lewis, now 22, of East New York, confessed to attacking and strangling Vetrano in two videotaped statements that were presented as evidence by prosecutors during the first trial.

In one of the taped confessions, Lewis said he was angry over an unrelated issue at home when he encountered Vetrano in the park and lashed out at her.

What about DNA evidence?

DNA evidence lifted from Vetrano’s body and cellphone, which a forensic expert said matched Lewis’ genetic profile, was also presented at the first trial. Police said Lewis voluntarily gave his DNA to investigators.

What did Vetrano’s family say about the mistrial?

Vetrano’s parents were solemn and did not comment as they left the courtroom following the mistrial.  

Outside of court in January, when Aloise set the retrial date, Vetrano’s father, Phillip, said he was happy the case was moving forward but he was not looking forward to his family being forced to go through the evidence at trial again.

Who will testify at the retrial?

Vetrano’s father said he expects to testify again. During the first trial, he was called up to testify about finding his daughter’s body face down in a marshy area about 15 feet from a trail in the park.

With Newsday, Alison Fox and Nicole Brown


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