A New York man has been found guilty of murdering Queens jogger Karina Vetrano two years ago.
A jury convicted Chanel Lewis, 22, on Monday during his retrial over the murder and sexual assault of the 30-year-old back in August 2016.
Vetrano’s body was found dumped near her family’s home in Howard Beach soon after she vanished while out jogging.
The jury delivered the verdict just hours after they began deliberating on Monday following the closing arguments.
Vetrano’s family and supporters erupted into applause when Lewis was found guilty on all counts.
A jury found Chanel Lewis, 22, guilty of murder and sexual abuse at his retrial on Monday
Karina Vetrano, 30, went missing on August 2, 2016, after she was last seen jogging near her home in Howard Beach
It comes after defense attorneys requested a mistrial after they received an anonymous letter that claimed police withheld key evidence in the trial, including that ‘jacked up white guys’ were among the potential suspects.
They claimed the letter alerted them to so-called exculpatory evidence about other potential suspects that they say was withheld from them.
It included a claim that NYPD officers had repeatedly said in the first two weeks of the investigation that they were ‘looking for two jacked up white guys who are from Howard Beach’.
His attorneys further claimed that police used a ‘race-biased dragnet’ to collect DNA samples from 360 black men in Howard Beach before targeting Lewis and that detectives coerced his confession.
‘We received troubling and reliable information indicating that the police withheld critical… information about other potential suspects, which was never turned over to the defense,’ Tina Luongo, a Legal Aid attorney representing Lewis, said in the days before the jury reached its verdict.
‘Moreover, we learned that the police approached our Mr Lewis to obtain a DNA swab as part of a race-biased dragnet, which involved the swabbing of over 360 African-American men in Howard Beach and other neighboring sections of Brooklyn and Queens.
The closely watched murder case initially baffled investigators, who for months were unable to find anyone who matched DNA that was found under the victim’s fingernails from when she fought back.
Lewis was arrested six months into the murder investigation after police said he provided a DNA swab that linked him to the scene and victim.
Despite that DNA evidence and a taped confession, the first trial ended in a hung jury in November.
Lewis’ attorneys repeatedly said during the retrial this month that the DNA evidence was suspect and that his confession was coerced by detectives who wore him down until he finally gave them what they wanted.
The confession video was played to jurors last week during which Lewis said: ‘I got angry. It went red, and then one thing led to another. I got scared and threw her in the bushes.’
Lewis said he hit Vetrano in the face around five times before dumping her in the bushes, but denies sexually assaulting her.
The 30-year-old went missing on August 2, 2016, after she was last seen jogging near her home in Howard Beach.
Her mother, Cathie Vetrano, tried calling her daughter on her cell phone, but there was no answer.
Her father, Phil Vetrano, found her body face down in weeds off a path while helping police search for his daughter.
Lewis’ attorney said the crime scene had been corrupted by various people, including Vetrano’s father, and therefore couldn’t be trusted.
They also argued that Lewis in his confession was just repeating information he learned from news reports about the murder.