A New York man convicted of brutally murdering a jogger in 2016 was sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday as he maintained his innocence.
Chanel Lewis, 22, was convicted earlier this month in the August 2016 killing of Karina Vetrano, 30, who was out running when she was sexually abused and strangled.
Father Phil Vetrano later found her body in a park nearby her home in Queens where they often ran together.
Lewis was arrested six months later. Police say they found his DNA on the women’s neck and phone and a mix of DNA under her fingernails. Police also said Lewis confessed and had photos of the crime scene and search information on his phone.
However, Lewis’ defense attorneys maintain that the man never got a chance for a fair trial.
BREAKING: Chanel Lewis gets life sentence for murder of Karina Vetranohttps://t.co/u4h4pRXMC5pic.twitter.com/l0znsT2hoo
“While there is no denying that Karina Vetrano’s death is tragic and that her family and friends suffered a great loss, every aspect of this case – from the police investigation to jury deliberations – was propelled by a desire to convict at all costs,” the Legal Aid Society, which represents Lewis, said in a statement.
“This was done without any concern for Mr. Lewis’s constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. We will appeal this case to the Appellate Division to secure Mr. Lewis the justice that he deserves,” the Legal Aid Society added.
A first trial in the case ended in a hung jury in November.
Before his sentencing Tuesday, Lewis said, “The only thing I want to say is, I’m innocent. I’m sorry for the family’s loss, but I didn’t do this,” according to the New York Post.
Lewis had previously admitted to strangling Vetrano but said he did not sexually assault her. In his confession, Lewis said that he was upset with someone else when he saw the woman.
Lewis’ defense team maintained that his confession had been coerced and that DNA evidence was gathered improperly in the case. The defense team also said that juror misconduct occurred and motioned to set aside the guilty verdict, but a judge denied the request.
“This young woman’s life was tragically cut short,” Queens County Chief Assistant District Attorney John M. Ryan said in a statement. “The defendant in this case has shown not an ounce of remorse for this heinous killing.”
Speaking to the courtroom, Vetrano’s mother Cathie called Lewis “a pathetic, evil coward,” according to the Post.
“My hope is that you live a long life within the prison of the law and the prison of your conscience,” she said.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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