The man accused of brutally murdering Karina Vetrano shared the horrifying details of the killing in a police interview that was played in court on Monday, as the young woman’s grieving family cried in anguish.
The New York Post reports that Vetrano’s parents Cathy and Phil Vetrano were among the relatives in the courtroom who watched as Chanel Lewis shared the chilling details of her August 2016 murder in an eerily calm videotaped interview with police.
Lewis, 21, is accused of killing Vetrano, 30, after she went jogging on her usual route in Spring Creek Park near her home in Howard Beach. Lewis, who had struggled with behavioral issues, was arrested in February and reportedly confessed to the crime. Investigators also have DNA evidence linking him to the murder.
In the police confession, Lewis said he was in a rage over an issue that appears to have had nothing to do with Vetrano, who he did not know, when he came across her jogging.
“I was mad, I saw red,” Lewis said in the interview played in court.
The suspect admitted to attacking the jogging woman, beating her so violently that her teeth broke. He said he then continued to beat her until she lost consciousness, and that before she was knocked out, she fought back, grabbing at his face.
“She didn’t yell. She was finished,” Lewis said.
He then allegedly strangled her and drowned her in a puddle in a marsh.
“I finished her off, I strangled her. She fell into the puddle and drowned,” he said.
“I got up and wiped off the blood. And she was calm, she was in the pool [of water].”
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 18, 2017
Lewis denied sexually assaulting Vetrano, despite indications that a sexual assault took place. The victim’s jogging shorts had been pulled down when investigators found her.
“I didn’t do any of the stuff they said, sexual assault and stuff like that,” Lewis said.
Speaking to the District Attorney, Lewis seemed not to understand the severity of his crime and the likelihood that he would be going to prison.
“I can straighten out my stuff?…. you’re the DA, right? Where do we go from here? Is there a restitution program or something?”
Lewis said he was sorry for the killing and that he wanted to change his life. The only motive he offered was that he was angry about a “guy [who] moved into my house and the neighborhood.”
Lewis was living in East New York at the time, a Brooklyn neighborhood not far from Howard Beach, which is much more affluent.
According to the New York Post, Cathie Vetrano was overcome with emotion during the interview. Katrina’s father Phil expressed anger at Lewis’s family, who reportedly left the courtroom before the interview was over.
“His family left the room,” Phil told reporters.
“They couldn’t listen to his confession. We know where the coward got his cowardliness from.”
[Feature photo: Police handout]