The mother of the man convicted of both sexually assaulting and murdering New York City jogger Karina Vetrano claims that her “helpless” son was set up.
“They believe that my son is helpless so this is one of the reasons why they did this to him, ” Veta Lewis told Nightline about her son, Chanel Lewis on Wednesday. “They were looking for somebody to place, try this on and I think that’s the reason why they chose him.”
Lewis was convicted earlier this month of killing Vetrano who was out jogging near her home in Queens in 2016.
Prosecutors said Vetrano had been sexually abused and strangled. A previous trial ended in a hung jury in November; the second jury deliberated for only five hours, staying into the night to decide their verdict.
Lewis' attorneys from the Legal Aid Society called the outcome "a complete miscarriage of justice.”
“I’m on the front page — of both papers," he told the publication a day after his murder conviction, referring to the Daily News and the New York Post.
Authorities said his DNA was found on Vetrano's neck and cellphone and in a mixture of DNA under her fingernails. His own phone contained downloaded photos of the crime scene and searches for information about the case, police said.
Lewis confessed, saying he was upset at someone else — a neighbor of his who played loud music — and "lost it" when he saw Vetrano. But, Lewis' defense said that the DNA evidence hadn't been gathered properly and that the confession was coerced and didn't match Vetrano's injuries or some other facts. His lawyer also claims that vital evidence was withheld from the trial including an anonymous letter pointed to other “alternate suspects."
Lewis’ mother agrees that her son was not treated justly.
She said she is sorry for the Vetrano family “but I would definitely let them know that my son is not the killer.”
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