Detective Testifies in Howard Beach Murder Retrial

By Shanika Carlies


Testimony continued Thursday in Queens Supreme Court in the retrial Chanel Lewis, 22, accused of murdering Karina Vetrano, 30, while she was jogging in Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach on August 2, 2016.

Vetrano was beaten and sexually assaulted before she was brutally murdered.

The first trial ended last November with the judge declaring a mistrial, after the jury could not agree on a verdict.

Karina Vetrano’s parents, relatives, and friends were present in the court room, quietly listening to the testimonies.

Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal, the prosecutor in this case, asked questions of witnesses who said they saw Chanel Lewis wandering suspiciously around the Howard Beach neighborhood late May in 2016, a few months before Vetrano’s murder.

John Russo, a lieutenant commander part of the detective bureau with the New York City Police Department, testified that Lewis had been walking around homes in the Howard Beach neighborhood where (Russo) lived.

“I saw on the opposite side of the street someone walking away from me. I took a drive following him. He stopped in front of several houses, going back and forth,” Russo. Russo called 911 afterwards, and Leventhal had the jury listen to a recording of the call. After police conducted an investigation, it was learned that Lewis was a resident of East New York, and he was let go.

A few months later, Russo became part of the investigation team for the Vetrano case, which lasted six months, until the arrest of Lewis.

Lewis is charged with 13 counts of murder and sexual abuse. If convicted, Lewis will face 25 years to life in prison.

Testimonies will resume Monday morning.

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