The trial of the man accused of murdering 30-year-old Karina Vetrano while she was jogging in Queens in 2016 ended in a mistrial Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney’s office confirms to PEOPLE.
The New York Times reports that jurors deadlocked after a day and a half of deliberating the fate of Chanel Lewis, 22, who is accused of sexually abusing and then strangling Vetrano while she went jogging on a Howard Beach trail. Vetrano’s father later found her body while searching for her after she didn’t return from her daily run.
The DA’s office will retry the case and the next court date for Lewis — who faces charges of first-degree murder and sex abuse — is set for Jan. 22, the spokesperson says.
Lewis was arrested in early 2017 — six months after Vetrano’s battered body was found by her father about a dozen feet from the trail she jogged daily.
“[Vetrano’s] dead because she was unlucky enough, misfortunate enough to be in a secluded location outside of the eyes and ears of anyone but [Lewis],” Queens Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal said when the trial began earlier this month, according to the Queens Daily Eagle.
Leventhal described Vetrano’s death as as a “crime of random violence — a crime of opportunity.”
RELATED: Jogger Was Strangled in ‘Crime of Opportunity,’ Prosecutor Says, with Her Mom Watching in Court
After arresting him, police said Lewis allegedly admitted to killing Vetrano but denied sexually assaulting her. Lewis told police, they said, that he could not stop himself from attacking her as she was jogging past him.
Local TV station WCBS reports Lewis allegedly told investigators he was in the park to calm down after being angered by loud music played by a neighbor — then he saw Vetrano.
Leventhal told jurors during the trial that DNA evidence recovered from Vetrano’s phone, body and fingernails implicates Lewis as the only person who could have attacked her. But, the Eagle reports, Vetrano’s defense attorney Jen Cheung argued the state’s evidence against her client is inconclusive.
Cheung — whose initial request for a mistrial was denied — said it was a gross “misstatement” for the prosecution to tell jurors that the DNA profile developed by medical examiners suggests evidence from only one individual was recovered from beneath Vetrano’s fingernails.
According to WCBS, Cheung contended in court that the DNA evidence actually creates “serious doubts” about her client’s alleged guilt.
The Legal Aid Society, based in New York City, which provides legal aid to the indigent and impoverished, released a statement regarding the first trial’s outcome.
RELATED: 5 Things to Know: The Case of Slain New York Jogger Karina Vetrano After Her Alleged Killer’s Arrest
“As we have said since Day 1, this case is far from conclusive and the jury’s deadlock proves this … The death of Karina Vetrano is tragic and our hearts go out to her family, but the rush to criminalize our client is not the answer nor is it justice,” it read.
An estimated 400 mourners turned out for Vetrano’s funeral in 2016.
“She was so full of life,” father Philip Vetrano said in his eulogy. “She lived every day as if it were her last, getting every second of living in her every minute … She did more in those short 30 years than 10 people do in a lifetime. We weren’t just a father and daughter, we were like one and the same.”
Before she went running on the day of her death, Vetrano’s father had asked her to avoid the very area where she was found murdered, noting the park where she spent the final moments of her life attracted drifters and homeless people. Her last words to him as she headed out the door were, “It’s OK, Daddy, I’ll be all right.”
Source: Read Full Article