A Queens judge declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked in the case of 30-year-old murdered jogger Karina Vetrano.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Lewis admitted to killing Vetrano in a videotaped confession with a district attorney, but he denied sexually assaulting her. Vetrano was found dead in August 2016, the evening after she went for a jog in Spring Creek Park near her home in Howard Beach. Her father Philip Vetrano, who typically went jogging with his daughter but stayed behind that day due to an injury, reported her missing when his daughter did not return home as expected and participated in a massive manhunt. He was among those who first found Karina’s body.
Lewis was arrested in February 2017 after a police officer remembered seeing him in and around the park, acting suspiciously, where Vetrano was later found dead. DNA evidence obtained from the young woman’s body reportedly connected him to the crime scene, but NBC News reports that Lewis’s defense team argued in court that the sample was too small.
“This is a rush to judgement,” a member of the defense team said in court, according to NBC News.
BREAKING: A judge declared a mistrial late Tuesday in the murder trial of Chanel Lewis, the man accused of killing Queens jogger Karina Vetrano in 2016. https://t.co/437lRjNeVx
— CBS New York (@CBSNewYork) November 21, 2018
The New York Post reports that the jury handed a note to Judge Michael Aloise on Wednesday, reading: “After deliberating for the entire day we are split. It doesn’t seem like we can make progress. We feel that we have exhausted all of our options.”
That judge’s quick decision to accept the defense’s request for a mistrial reportedly surprised many in the courtroom, and one relative of the victim exclaimed “Oh my God!,” according to the New York Post.
A defense attorney told the New York Times that he believes the judge made the right decision.
“According to their note, they were hopelessly deadlocked,” Attorney Robert Moeller told the newspaper. “So what’s another day going to do?”
Lewis remains in custody, and is expected to be tried again early next year.