The NYPD was stationed outside of the Vetrano family home Wednesday, as a steady stream of relatives and friends dropped by a day after a mistrial was declared in the case against Karina Vetrano's accused killer.
At one point, Karina's father, Phil Vetrano, stepped outside. He declined to speak to reporters as he went for a jog in the same park where he found his daughter’s body on an August evening two years ago.
The Vetrano family left the courtroom stunned Tuesday night after the judge declared the mistrial. The jury declared itself deadlocked in the second day of deliberations, even though the defendant, Chanel Lewis, gave two confessions, and DNA matching his profile was found beneath Karina Vetrano’s fingernails, on her neck, and cellphone.
"[The] jury is understanding that DNA is not all it. A confession is not all it. And there are issues in the case that, as you all see, is[sic] much more complex," said Lewis’ Defense Attorney Jenny Cheung.
The Daily News quoted an unnamed alternate juror who heard the evidence but was not part of the deliberations as saying the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
To that point, the jury did ask to revisit critical evidence during deliberations. They watched Lewis's confessions again, viewed autopsy photos, and requested a read-back of a DNA expert's testimony.
The defense argued the crime scene wasn't properly preserved, and that Lewis's DNA could have ended up on Vetrano accidentally as a result of his previous visits to the park. The defense also claimed Lewis's confession was coerced, claiming he told detectives what they wanted to hear after being held for hours.
Lewis's lawyers say the hung jury proves the case is far from conclusive, but the mistrial still comes as a shock to many who saw the prosecution’s case as strong.
The Queens District Attorney's office is vowing to re-try Lewis with a new jury.
Chanel Lewis is due back in court on January 22.