Karina Vetrano was viciously beaten and strangled "until she could not struggle anymore" -- then, in a final indignity, the 30-year-old New Yorker's body was left naked in a weed-covered patch of land, where her executioner robbed her and fled.
Prosecutors on Tuesday revealed the gruesome details of the jogger’s August 2016 assault and murder, as the trial of her accused killer, Chanel Lewis, got underway. Vetrano's mother, Cathie Vetrano, was in the courtroom as Queens Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal recounted the graphic details, and was seen sobbing and clutching a crucifix, according to the New York Daily News.
“She was attacked brutally,” Leventhal told jurors of the attack in Howard Beach, Queens. ”Her attacker struggled with her. He pummeled her. He strangled her. He put his legs on her chest. Then she fought for her life. She struggled to get away.”
Leventhal said Vetrano tried to fight off Lewis.
“And he strangled her until she could not struggle anymore. He strangled her until she was dead,” Leventhal said.
Photos from the crime scene of Vetrano’s naked body were shown in court. After Lewis killed Vetrano, he carried her body into a weed-covered area, removed her sneakers and took her phone and earbuds, Leventhal said.
“This innocent victim was mercilessly beaten, and brutally killed,” Leventhal said. “She was killed by a person she had never seen before. This woman was Karina Vetrano.”
Vetrano was attacked as she jogged in Spring Creek Park, not far from her home in Queens’ Howard Beach.
Vetrano’s father, Phillip Vetrano, was the one who discovered his daughter’s body.
“She says ‘See you later,’ to her dad and left her home for a later afternoon jog,” Leventhal said. “It was one from which she never returned.”
Detective Timothy Gentz testified Monday that Phillip Vetrano was “completely destroyed, as one can imagine.”
Authorities arrested Lewis in February 2017 after his DNA matched samples from the murder scene, officials said. He admitted to the murder in a taped confession, but Lewis' lawyers say the statement was coerced.
“This case was about rushing to judgment, about making assumptions,” said Lewis’ attorney, Jenny Chung, according to the New York Daily News. “Pay close attention to the evidence. Pay attention to what DNA evidence tells you and what it doesn’t tell you. They’re twisting the facts to fit the theory, instead of twisting the theory to fit the facts.”