The trial of Chanel Lewis, the New York man accused of killing Karina Vetrano as she jogged in a Queens park in 2016, has ended in a mistrial.
After a day and a half of deliberations, the jury returned Tuesday night to the courtroom split on whether to find Lewis guilty of the murder and sexual abuse of Vetrano, a 30-year-old avid runner who went for a jog one August evening and never came back.
Vetrano’s body was discovered in Spring Creek Park by her father, a retired firefighter, who called police to report his daughter missing and aided first responders in the search that night.
The 12 jurors during deliberations requested a number of key pieces of evidence presented during a two-week trial, The New York Times reported. That included further examination of the DNA evidence, which prosecutors said was retrieved from under Vetrano’s fingernails, from her back and on her phone and matched Lewis.
They also requested to view the interrogation tape, in which Lewis can be seen saying on two separate occasions that he did in fact kill Vetrano, after repeatedly denying it.
But the jury returned deadlocked, telling Justice Michael B. Aloise they did not believe their split conclusion would change.
“I’m inclined to believe them,” Aloise said as he granted the defense lawyers’ request for a mistrial.
Vetrano’s family reportedly declined to speak as they left the court. Attorneys for Lewis pointed to the jury’s inability to convict as proof that they were correct in saying the case was not a slam dunk.
“As we have said since day one, this case is far from conclusive and the jury’s deadlock proves this,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement to CBS New York. “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. We will continue to fight on behalf of Chanel Lewis at the retrial in January.”
Lewis remains in custody, as the Queens District Attorney’s Office said it plans to retry the case. A new trial will begin Jan. 22.