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Jury to hear Karina’s mother Retrial starts in jogger-slay case

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Old 03-19-2019, 03:20 AM   #1
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Default Jury to hear Karina’s mother Retrial starts in jogger-slay case

Jury to hear Karina’s mother
Retrial starts in jogger-slay case




By Mikey Light and Michael Gartland

new york daily news


The mother of a Queens woman who was murdered while out jogging will soon get a chance to tell her daughter’s tragic story to a jury.
Catherine Vetrano — mother of Karina Vetrano, the jogger found dead three years ago among the weeds of Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach — is set to testify in the retrial of the man accused of killing her, Chanel Lewis. The first one ended in a hung jury last November.
The new trial, which started Monday, began with a stark retelling of Karina’s last hours.
Her father, Phillip Vetrano, who sometimes accompanied his 30-year-old daughter on her runs, did not want her to go out alone on Aug. 2, 2016.
But, as Queens Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal retold the tragic tale Monday, Karina said what most children always say to worried parents.
“Oh, Daddy, I’ll be all right. I’ll be OK,” Leventhal recounted her saying.
“Little did she know, little could she know, that she would be the furthest thing from OK. Little did she know, little could she know, that nothing would ever be OK again.”
When she didn’t come home, her father searched for her and eventually found her body in the park.
“Mr. Vetrano let out a sound that people have difficulty describing — a wail, a scream, a cry from the pit of his stomach,” Leventhal said. “He had found his daughter. She was lying about 40 feet off the trail, facedown on these matted reeds.
“Her stomach still felt warm, but he knew she was dead.”
Catherine Vetrano did not testify in the first trial of Lewis, 22. But on Monday her name was included on a list of potential witnesses prosecutors intend to call to the stand for the retrial in Queens Criminal Court.
She was there last November during the first trial when prosecutors detailed the last minutes of her daughter’s life as Karina struggled to break free from her killer.
She sobbed and clutched a crucifix at the time as Leventhal walked jurors through the horrible episode.
“He pummeled her. He strangled her. He put his legs on her chest. Then she fought for her life,” Leventhal said then.
Lewis was accused of murdering Vetrano after police said he admitted to committing the deed.
But his defense attorney Jen Cheung made the argument Monday that Lewis gave a coerced confession.
“He insisted three times, ‘I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything,’ ” she said. “After spending 12 hours isolated, alone and scared, and after continuously saying ‘I don’t know anything,’ Chanel finally gave the police what they wanted, a story.”
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