A jury found New York man Chanel Lewis guilty on Monday night of murdering jogger Karina Vetrano in 2016.
The court convicted Brooklyn resident Lewis, 22, of murder and sexual abuse, NBC News reported Tuesday. The guilty verdict followed a mistrial in November 2018 after the jury could not reach a decision.
“Ms. Vetrano’s death was brutal. She was pulled from a park pathway, sexually assaulted, and in her last moments of life she gasped for air as the defendant’s hands tightened around her neck,” Queens Chief Assistant District Attorney John Ryan said in a Monday statement, according to NBC.
Vetrano, a caterer and world traveler, typically ran with her father but jogged alone on the day of her murder on Aug. 2, 2016. Her family contacted the police after she did not return from her run in Spring Creek Park, and nearly six months passed before authorities found any leads in the case, NBC reported. The story gained national media attention following her disappearance. (RELATED: The Details Of Whitney Bulger’s Murder Will Make Your Stomach Churn)
A trial began after authorities found Lewis’s DNA under Vetrano’s fingernails and on her neck and cellphone, according to The New York Times.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 2, 2019
Following Vetrano’s death, Lewis admitted to attacking the runner, but the defense argued that his confession was coerced and that prosecutors used racial profiling to propel their case. An anonymous letter also contributed to the jury’s inability to reach a decisive conclusion regarding Lewis’s guilt, according to The NYT.
A second jury faced significantly less doubt about Lewis’s involvement in Vetrano’s death, finding him guilty Monday night of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree murder after five hours of deliberation, The NYT reported.
“It is my hope that as this case draws to a close, it will give the family of the victim some closure and comfort knowing her killer will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars,” prosecutor Ryan said, according to NBC.
A judge will sentence Lewis on April 17. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
A female jogger was also stabbed to death in a random attack in the District of Columbia’s Logan Circle in September 2018.