Family, friends and supporters of a Brooklyn man serving life behind bars for the murder of a Queens woman have continued to demand justice for a man they say is innocent.
What You Need To Know
- Chanel Lewis supporters delivered a petition with 40,000 signatures Tuesday to the Queens DA, Melinda Katz, demanding her office reopen Lewis’ case
- Lewis was convicted in 2019 of killing Karina Vetrano, but his attorneys claim his confession was coerced, that police racially profiled him and that the DNA was improperly collected
- Vetrano was killed while jogging near her home in Howard Beach in 2016. Her father found her body in a park
“This is totally an injustice on the Lewis family,” said family friend Burchell Marcus. “They are under duress and stress because of the wrongful conviction of their loved one. I want to call on Melinda Katz to do the right thing.”
Several community groups and Chanel Lewis’ mother delivered a petition with 40,000 signatures to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz Tuesday.
They want the DA to send Lewis’ case to the Queens Conviction Integrity Unit and reopen the investigation and release Lewis on bail.
“We had a Central Park Five, we will not have a Howard Beach One with Chanel Lewis,” said community advocate Michael Thomas. “No justice. No peace.”
Lewis was convicted in 2019 for killing Karina Vetrano after his first trial ended with a hung jury.
Vetrano was strangled and sexually assaulted while jogging in Howard Beach in 2016. Her father found her body in a park not far from their home.
Lewis did confess to the crime and investigators found traces of his DNA on Vetrano’s body. But his attorneys claim his confession was coerced, that police racially profiled him and that the DNA was improperly collected.
“They just want to tag a Black man - that’s being done all over America and we’re asking today, these policies, these racial profiling, they stop,” said Kevin Smith, of the Family and Friends of the Wrongfully Convicted group.
Lewis’ attorneys also tried to get the verdict tossed out after allegations of jury misconduct, but the judge denied their motion. Lewis’ supporters say there is more than enough evidence for the DA to take another look at this case.
“Melinda Katz said she would do her best,” said community activist Reverend Kevin McCall. “Well, she won the district attorney seat and she’s not doing her best.”
Katz created the conviction integrity unit when she first took office last year to review past convictions with credible evidence of innocence and wrongful convictions. Her office would not comment on the Lewis case. The Vetrano family also had no comment.