Queens Chronicle: DNA front and center at Vetrano murder retrial

Chanel Lewis in court last week for jury selection.

Chanel Lewis in court last week for jury selection.

By Michael Shain
March 18, 2019

Less than four months after a hung jury, a Queens prosecutor today told the jury at the Howard Beach jogger murder trial that the evidence against her accused killer is “overwhelming.”

Chanel Lewis, dressed in a dark gray suit and all-but-silent during the opening of his second trial, showed no sign of emotion as the prosecutor, Brad Leventhal, outlined the case against the 22-year-old Brooklyn loner.

Leventhal’s 110-minute opening statement meticulously laid out how DNA evidence had been gathered and analyzed and how cops linked Lewis’ genetic profile to traces of DNA on victim Karina Vetrano’s cell phone and the skin on her neck after she’d been strangled to death.

In the first trial, Lewis’ lawyers made the quality and character of the DNA evidence the centerpiece of his defense. The jury for the second trial is made up of seven women and five men. There appear to be more jurors over the age of 35 than on the first jury.

The racial makeup of the jury is seven whites, three blacks and two Asians.

Jenny Cheung, one of Lewis’ Legal Aid Society lawyers, told the jury to question the DNA evidence since there were no fingerprints, hair or bodily fluid found at the scene to account for how the genetic evidence got there in the first place.

The trial is expects to last three to four weeks.