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Judge Denies Motion On Juror Misconduct In Vetrano Case
April 22, 2019
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The man convicted of killing Queens jogger Karina Vetrano will be sentenced Tuesday after the judge ruled on Monday against claims of juror misconduct in the case.
Earlier this month, Chanel Lewis, 22, was found guilty of strangling and sexually abusing the 30-year-old while she was out for a jog in Spring Creek Park near her family’s Howard Beach home in 2016. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
Lewis was set to be sentenced last week, but the judge decided to hold off so Monday’s hearing could be held on alleged juror misconduct. Lewis’ defense attorneys fought to have the guilty verdicts set aside, but the judge ultimately denied the motion, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Chanel Lewis’ mother and supporters walked out of Queens Criminal Court vowing to continue their mission to reverse his conviction.
“I feel the Vetrano pain because they lost a daughter. But I, too, lost a son and my son is not the killer,” said Veta Lewis, Chanel Lewis’ mother.
Juror Christopher Gooley was called to testify for the defense and said the jury foreman, Brian Morrissey, made a decision on the verdict on the day Vetrano’s parents testified.
The foreman allegedly said to Gooley, “I made my mind up already. I hope you did, too,” a comment which violates court instructions to not form an opinion or speak about the case before deliberations.
Gooley’s attorney, Vinoo Varghese, spoke on his behalf after the hearing.
“He was trying to do the right thing,” Varghese said.
Gooley agreed Lewis was guilty of murder, but said he was on the fence about the sex abuse charges. He accused two jurors of using their personal experiences to evaluate evidence regarding that charge.
“I felt I couldn’t get my opinions out,” Gooley said.
“I think there would have been a different verdict, had he not been… the kind of pressure put on him. Had there not been jurors who brought about outside experience from another rape trial,” Varghese added.
But on Monday in court, Gooley testified, “no juror pressured him to vote to convict Lewis.”
Lewis’ mother said she wasn’t surprised the judge ruled there was no juror misconduct.
“This hearing doesn’t even matter because the judge already make up his mind, and this was what the judge was going to do,” Veta Lewis said.
Vetrano’s family didn’t stop to speak with the press. Her father did speak in passing, calling Monday’s hearing “a joke.”
Chanel Lewis will be sentenced Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. He faces up to life in prison. His defense said it plans to appeal his conviction.