Prosecutors say that Chanel Lewis, the man arrested in the brutal killing of a Queens jogger, told homicide detectives he “lost it” and strangled the woman during a chance encounter.
The 20-year-old pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and a dozen other counts in the deadly attack on Karina Vetrano.
In statements read by District Attorney Michael Curtis, Lewis explained that he headed to the park seeking some “peace and quiet” after a man had come to his house with a group of friends and started playing loud music.
While walking through Spring Creek Park, Lewis came across Vetrano, 30, who was out jogging by herself.
“She was running toward me and I just lost it. She didn’t do anything. I was just mad at that time. I beat her to let my emotions out. I never really meant to hurt her, it just happened.”
How could a person use this as an excuse? This was an innocent woman. And he beat her to death. He strangled her. How can a person not have self-control?
In another statement, Lewis said of Vetrano: “I fought with her for five minutes. She scratched my face. I hit her about five times and I knocked her out. Her teeth broke. I got madder and madder and I strangled her.”
Lewis also said that Vetrano’s shorts came off while he was dragging her into some bushes after she fell into a puddle. He has previously denied allegations of rape.
The victim’s mother, Catherine Vetrano, showed no visible emotion in court. She was accompanied by husband Phil, who was the one who found their daughter’s battered body in a secluded marsh after she failed to return home from a jog.
Lewis was arrested in early February, nearly six months into the search for Vetrano’s killer, after he gave a voluntary cheek swab which matched DNA found under the victim’s fingernails.
While in custody, Lewis said he was sorry for his actions and asked for the opportunity to apologize to Vetrano’s family.
At one point, he told detectives to “tell my mom that I’m sorry”.
The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Lewis, issued a statement saying it ‘looks forward to closely reviewing’ prosecution documents.
It has previously said it was concerned about how DNA was collected and about ‘the overall reliability’ of evidence in the case.
Lewis’ mother, Veta, claims her son has mental health problems but would not hurt anybody.
While speaking to reporters, Veta claimed her son was innocent and accused law enforcement officials of framing her son.
“I know that there is a God, and I know that justice is coming for my child.”
What about justice for Karina? What does she have to say about that?