Judge Denies Motion For Mistrial In Karina Vetrano Murder Case

April 22, 2019 - 12:55 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A judge on Monday denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial after they alleged jury misconduct in the Karina Vetrano murder case.

The defense for Chanel Lewis said there was evidence that at least four jurors committed misconduct during the trial and say his convince should be thrown out.

Deliberations earlier this month lasted only a few hours before the 22-year-old Lewis was found guilty of strangling and sexually abusing the 30-year-old speech pathologist as she ran on a trail at Spring Creek Park near her family's Howard Beach home in August 2016. 

A juror in the case previously told the New York Times he was pressured into voting for a conviction. He said he had doubts about Lewis' guilt, but he feared having to stay all night long if a guilty verdict was not reached. Flustered and having migraines, he said he gave in at 9 p.m. on April 1, after five hours of deliberating.

He also said he noticed the judge wore purple, Vetrano's favorite color, and thought it was a deliberate show of support for her family, and also claims the jury foreman decided Lewis was guilty on the third day of the trial after Vetrano's parents took the witness stand.

CBS2 spoke to the jury foreman, Brian Morrissey, who says he thought Lewis was guilty early on.

"Two things, the confession it wasn't coerced. DNA – DNA was so overwhelming," he said. 

The lead prosecutor, Brad Leventhal, says he supports the hearing on the misconduct allegations so the court and the public can see that this was a valid and good verdict.

Lewis' mother and supporters believe that police planted DNA evidence that led to the conviction.

Following the ruling, Lewis’ mother spoke to reporters outside the courthouse, declaring her son was innocent and Vetrano’s killer remains free.

“I’m a mother. I feel the Vetrano’s pain because they lost their daughter, but I too lost my son and my son is not the killer,” she said.

"The jury was tainted and the judge is biased. From the beginning, from the onset, Chanel did not get a fair shake," said Chris Banks, a Lewis family spokesman.

Now that the motion has been denied, Lewis will be sentenced Tuesday.