Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Suspect in NYC Jogger’s Murder Confesses on Tape Played in Court During Trial

Closing arguments in the trial of Chanel Lewis, 22, are expected to take place on Monday, the Queens District Attorney’s office said

What to Know

  • Karina Vetrano's strangulation death shocked the city; her body was found by her father and police hours after she went missing
  • Chanel Lewis, of East New York, is charged with murder and sexual abuse in her strangulation death; he has pleaded not guilty
  • Lewis was connected to the case via DNA evidence that was obtained from underneath Vetrano's fingernails

The young man accused of killing Karina Vetrano was angry about the loud music his neighbor had been playing when he encountered her jogging on a park trail in Queens, he said during a taped confession played at his trial.

Closing arguments in the trial of Chanel Lewis, 22, are expected to take place on Monday, the Queens District Attorney’s office said.

In a tape played on the fourth day of Lewis’ trial, Lewis said he was walking on a dirt trail in Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach listening to music around 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2016 when he saw Vetrano jogging.

“While you were in the park, did something happen?” Assistant District Attorney Peter McCormack asks Lewis on the tape, which is dated Feb. 5, 2017.

“Yes,” Lewis replied.

Lewis then admits that he “got angry and started hitting [Vetrano]” in the face and mouth, video shows.

At some point during the attack, Vetrano’s tooth broke, he says, adding that Vetrano’s face ended up in a pool of water.

Lewis also admits to putting his hands around Vetrano’s neck and hitting her for about five minutes, before dragging her “somewhere off the pathway.”

Her clothing was “pulled off,” but Lewis denies sexually assaulting her.

Lewis, who was 20 when he allegedly sexually assaulted and strangled Vetrano, has been charged with murder and sexual abuse in her death.

As Lewis’ trial continued Wednesday, an official from the city’s Medical Examiner’s office testified that his DNA matched DNA found on Vetrano’s neck and cell phone, amNewYork reported.

Earlier on in Lewis’ trial, Vetrano’s father, Phil Vetrano, testified about the night he found his daughter’s body in the park where she’d gone jogging.

“I let out this sound that I — that I never made before or since. It was — I don’t know. It was like a wail,” he recalled. “And then I screamed, ‘My baby, my baby.’”

Lewis was arrested around six months after Vetrano’s death, and could face life in prison if he’s found guilty.

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