Opening statements begin in jogger Karina Vetrano’s murder trial

Murdered jogger Karina Vetrano’s mother sobs gripping a cross as court hears how her daughter was thrown to the ground, violently raped and strangled in a marsh during her final moments

  • Opening statements got under way in trial of Chanel Lewis accused of murdering Karina Vetrano in 2016 
  • Karina’s mother, Cathie, sobbed and clutched a cross as prosecutor described her daughter’s killing 
  • Lewis’s mother, Veta, was also in court, wearing a red dress 
  • Lewis, 21, is on trial for allegedly grabbing Vetrano on a jog in Queens, sexually assaulting and strangling her  

Opening statements got under way Monday morning in the trial of a man accused of killing Queens jogger Karina Vetrano two years ago.

A jury made up of eight women and four men is hearing the case of murder suspect Chanel Lewis.

Lewis, 21, is charged with sexually assaulting and strangling Karina Vetrano as she ran on a secluded park trail in Howard Beach, Queens, in August 2016.

Mothers in court: Cathie Vetrano (left), the mother of murder victim Karina Vetrano, is pictured arriving in Queens Supreme Court on the first day of the trial against Chanel Lewis, whose mother, Veta (right), was also in attendance 

Karina Vetrano was 30 years old when in August 2016 she went out for a jog near her home in Queens, from which she never returned 

Six months later, police arrested then 20-year-old Chanel Lewis in connection to the jogger’s death

Karina’s mother, Cathie Vetrano, was seen sobbing and clutching a cross as Queens Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal described in graphic detail her daughter’s final violent moments, reported NBC New York.

The prosecutor told the court in his opening statement that the 30-year-old runner was accosted and grabbed as she jogged along Spring Creek Park on August 2, 2016.

Vetrano was punched in the face, thrown to the ground, violently raped and then strangled in a marsh, about a block away from her house, where her father, Philip Vetrano, would later find her body.

Authorities previously said that the victim desperately fought for her life until the very end.

Final photo: This screenshot shows Karina jogging along Spring Creek Park on August 2, 2016, a short time before her rape and strangulation 

Authorities said Karina(left and right) put up a fight before her killer choked her to death 

Lewis was arrested and charged in connection to Vetrano’s murder six months later. 

Despite making a videotaped confession, in which he allegedly admitted to killing Vetrano, saying he was mad at his neighbor when he spotted her at random and snapped, Lewis has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and aggravated sex abuse.  

In February, a judge decided to let DNA evidence and a videotaped confession be used at trial.

Lewis’ attorneys previously questioned the validity of his DNA sample from a consensual cheek swab, which was compared to DNA evidence recovered from under the victim’s fingernails, and the manner in which his confession was gained. 

On Day 1 of Lewis’s trial, the defendant, dressed in a grey suit, glanced back at Vetrano’s mother and sister, who was rocking back and forth in her seat. 

Cathie Vetrano wept as the prosecutor described the moment her husband, Phil, found their daughter lying face down in the dirt. 

‘He fell to his knees, wept and did what any parent would do. He cradled her and lifted her back to his chest,’ Leventhal said, according to reporting by the Queens Daily Eagle 

Lewis’s mother, Veta, was also in court today. She arrived in the company of State Assemblyman Charles Barron and the Rev Kevin McCall.

Cathie Vetrano was seen sobbing and clutching a cross during opening statements 

Veta Lewis arrived in court accompanied by Rev Kevin McCall (left) and State Assemblyman Charles Barron (right) 


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