The man accused of killing jogger Karina Vetrano was found guilty on all charges Monday night.
Chanel Lewis, 21, was convicted of murder and sexual abuse and faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 17.
“Jubilation. Justice has been served,” the victim’s father, Phil Vetrano, said as he exited the courtroom while holding hands with his wife. “He just got a death sentence, he’s going to die in jail. We can’t be any more pleased, and now we move on.”
Both sides delivered closing arguments Monday, with the jury getting the case for deliberations that afternoon. A verdict was rendered a few hours later.
Lewis’ defense team was disappointed with the verdict.
“Our client did not receive a fair trial. We will appeal immediately to a court that can afford Mr. Lewis the fair review he has thus far been denied,” the Legal Aid Society, which represented Lewis, said in a statement after the verdict.
Courtesy: Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen/WABC
An image made from video of 30-year-old Karina Vetrano hours before she was killed while jogging in Queens, New York.
A juror who asked not to be identified told ABC News outside the courtroom he was the only juror who went into deliberations not yet convinced of convicting Lewis.
“But,” the juror said, “justice was served.”
The juror, a man in his 30s who works in entertainment, added: “At first, I thought this was going to be about race, then it totally went the opposite direction.”
Before reaching a verdict, the jury asked to see Lewis’ confession video, but after further discussion, this juror and two others were convinced not to watch it and to proceed with the conviction.
“I felt that I was getting heat from other jurors to make a decision,” he told ABC News. “I thought we were going to continue tomorrow, but after they brought up different points of view I changed my mind.”
The jurors mostly got along until arguing over the relevance of the sexual assault charges, which the unnamed juror and two others didn’t find entirely convincing.
Queens District Attorneys Office
The last photo of Karina Vetrano at her Howard Beach home moments before leaving for a jog, Aug. 2, 2016, with her mother in the background.
“The DA sprinkled the sexual assault stuff, but didn’t really talk about it — it wasn’t enough to convince me and two other jurors,” he said. “Everyone agreed with the DNA [evidence], others were agreeing on the footage, but some had feelings about the video footage. … I kept thinking about Steven Avery from ‘Making a Murderer.’ You know, then you hear about cases of people spending 30 years in jail and they didn’t do it? That was in the back of my mind.”
Vetrano, 30, was killed while jogging alone in Spring Creek Park — adjacent to Howard Beach, New York — on Aug. 2, 2016. It was a run she often made with her father.
The St. John’s University graduate’s parents were concerned when she didn’t return home at her usual time and called a neighbor who works for the New York Police Department.
According to trial testimony, Phil Vetrano led the search and ultimately discovered his daughter’s partially clothed body laying in unkempt weeds in the waterfront park.
Vetrano was severely beaten, face-down in 8-foot reeds, with her front tooth knocked out, her pants pulled down and her socks wet, said Robert Boyce, NYPD’s then-chief of detectives and now an ABC News contributor.
Boyce called the brutal killing one of the most notable cases of his career.
“My thoughts were … she was dragged through [a puddle of] water and then dragged off the path into the high reeds,” Boyce added.
Her phone was found thrown in the reeds about 15 to 20 feet from her body, Boyce said.
Police recovered DNA from one unknown person on her cell phone, the back of her neck and her fingernails, he said.
Charles Eckert/Newsday via AP, Pool
Defendant Chanel Lewis, right, is seated at the defense table at Supreme Court in the Queens Borough of New York, during the sixth day of his re-trial for the murder of Karina Vetrano, March 26, 2019.
Six months into the investigation, the case had turned cold when one of the case detectives, Lt. John Russo, remembered calling the police on a black man who was roaming in the Howard Beach neighborhood three months prior to Karina Vetrano’s death, according to trial testimony.
The man was later identified as Lewis.
Lewis, then 20, agreed to allow police to swab him for DNA inside his East New York home as his mother stood nearby.
He was taken into custody a week later on charges of murder and sexual abuse. He has been in jail since his arrest.
Lewis, who didn’t appear to know Vetrano, allegedly told detectives he “just lost it” and strangled Vetrano after spotting her on the jogging path, according to a statement that prosecutors read aloud during his arraignment.
Vetrano “didn’t do anything,” Lewis allegedly told police. “I was just mad at the time. I beat her to let my emotions out. I never really meant to hurt her. It just happened.”
Lewis’ first trial, in November 2018, deadlocked a jury after 13 hours and prompted the case judge to declare a mistrial.
ABC News’ Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.