The man accused of killing jogger Karina Vetrano was found guilty on all charges Monday night.
“Jubilation. Justice has been served,” said the victim’s father, Phil Vetrano, as he exited the courtroom while holding hands with his wife.
Both sides delivered closing arguments Monday, with the jury getting the case for deliberations Monday afternoon. They delivered their verdict against defendant Lewis a few hours later.
Vetrano, 30, was killed while jogging in Spring Creek Park — adjacent to Howard Beach, New York — on Aug. 2, 2016. After the 30-year-old did not return home from her solo evening run — one she normally did with her father Phil Vetrano.
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 NYPD for help.
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, lying face-down in 8-foot reeds, with her front tooth knocked out, her pants pulled down and her socks wet, said Robert Boyce, who was the NYPD chief of detectives at the time.
Boyce called the brutal killing one of the most notable cases of his career.
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“My thoughts were … she was dragged through [a puddle of] water and then dragged off the path into the high reeds,” said Boyce, who has since retired and become an ABC News contributor.
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.
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.