What to Know
Karina Vetrano's beaten body was found Aug. 2 in a marshy park in Queens
Prosecutors say Chanel Lewis confronted, attacked and strangled Vetrano while she was jogging
Lewis is charged with second-degree murder. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years to life in prison
Lawyers for a 20-year-old Brooklyn man charged in the death of Karina Vetrano, the New York City runner whose beaten, strangled body was found in a Queens marsh over the summer, are urging the public "not to rush to immediate judgment."
Legal Aid Society Chief Defender Tina Luongo says in a statement that Chanel Lewis is "entitled to fairness and due process."
Legal Aid has a full team working on the case, including its DNA unit, she said.
Police arrested Lewis on Saturday. They said evidence included genetic material found under the 30-year-old Vetrano's fingernails and on her phone and neck.
Police officials also said Lewis made detailed, incriminating statements to detectives. According to police sources, Lewis twice confessed on video -- once with the NYPD and the other time during an interview with the Queens district attorney's office. Lewis' family insists he is innocent.
"He's just a good guy, a wonderful guy, don't interfere with anybody," said his father Richard Lewis. "He's never had that problem in the 20 years I've had him in my world."
His mother Vita Lewis said Wendesday that she supports her son.
"I raised my son to be a God-fearing man, and to respect life," she read from a statement. "My son is friendly, God-fearing, and would not hurt anybody."
Police said Monday that Lewis was once written up in high school for allegedly saying he wanted to "stab up some girls."
His father told reporters Tuesday that was "lies."
"If his principal sees him, he hugs him. Good kid," he said.
Chanel Lewis' family also dismisses police saying they found his DNA on Vetrano.
"They can say anything. The lawyers and the doctors and the specialists will go into that," said Richard Lewis.
At a news briefing Monday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce talked about the challenges of the six-month probe. He said finding Lewis was like looking for a "needle in a haystack" because he had no criminal history.
Vetrano's father, Phil Vetrano, who was among the search crews to find her body off the running path in Howard Beach Aug. 2, spearheaded a grassroots effort on GoFundMe to keep his daughter's name in the news, updating the page regularly with pleas for assistance in the investigation.
He thanked supporters in a post on the page, which has raised nearly $290,000 in the last six months, Monday night.
"He will pay for this crime," Phil Vetrano wrote.
He also said the money donated via GoFundMe would be put toward charitable donations in his daughter's name.