Vetrano Murder: Following Report of Jury Misconduct, Assemblyman Barron Again Advocates Chanel Lewis's Innocence

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Assemlyman Charles Barron. Photo: Facebook. 
 
Following reports of jury misconduct, New York Assemblyman Charles Barron says he believes Chanel Lewis, the Brooklyn man recently convicted of the 2016 murder of Karina Vetrano, “is innocent.”
 
Barron spoke to The Black Star News following reports of jury misconduct in the second trial of Lewis, a Black male, that concluded with his conviction on April, 1 for the murder of Vetrano, a White woman. Barron has been a strong-supporter of Lewis's claim of innocence. Barron says of the New York Police Department that “the DNA that they swabbed from” Lewis was planted to implicate him in the murder. He also says Lewis’ “confession was coerced,” by NYPD officers, who interrogated him.
 
Lewis, 22, was to be sentenced today, possibly to life in prison, after being convicted in the second trial for the murder of 30-year-old Vetrano.  She was killed while jogging in Spring Creek Park, in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York, on August 2, 2016. That night, during a search, with the NYPD, Vetrano’s body was found by her father, Phil Vetrano—who reported her missing hours earlier. Phil Vetrano reportedly found his daughter in a marshy area of the park. According to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, Mr. Vetrano "went into the woods, and then found the body with our detectives after him.”
 
Karina Vetrano had been sexually assaulted before being killed.
 
Although Lewis’ first trial ended in a hung jury on November 21, it took the jurors, in the second trial, only five hours to find Lewis guilty on three counts of murder and one count of sexual abuse. But Wednesday morning, the sentencing was abruptly postponed amid allegations of juror misconduct during the trial and deliberations. The allegations were made by one juror.
 
Sometime after the sentencing postponement, Assemblyman Barron joined family members and supporters of Lewis in a protest outside the Queens courthouse. Barron made it clear he didn’t trust this verdict because he doesn’t trust the NYPD. The Black Star News spoke to Assemblyman Barron regarding what he says are troubling circumstances of this case. Barron first talked about his belief in Lewis’ innocence. “My statement is that there is a killer still loose, because Chanel Lewis is innocent,” Barron said. “The DNA that they swabbed from him, I’m warning Black men in particular don’t let the NYPD swab you for DNA, because they can plant your DNA anywhere, and that’s what I believed happened here.”
 
Barron also said he thinks the NYPD coerced a confession out of Lewis. “Also, the confession was coerced,” Barron said. “He was in that precinct for two hours. He said he didn’t do it. And he said ‘I want to go home. I want to see my mother.” According to Barron, NYPD interrogators replied, “As soon as you tell us what happened we will let you go home.”
 
Barron continued, “for two hours he said 'no,' and then he finally said, ‘ok what do you want me to say?'” Lewis allegedly then said, “she had on a yellow shirt.” However, Barron pointed out the Ms. Vetrano actually had on “a black shirt.”
 
Assemblyman Barron asserts after hours of grilling, by NYPD, Lewis “began to tell the story that they wanted him to tell, that was coerced. He’s innocent.” After again maintaining his view of Lewis’ innocence, Barron stated clearly that because Lewis is a Black man—who allowed NYPD to swab his DNA—he was setup to be convicted. “They needed to find a Black man who did it” Barron said. “And they swabbed a whole lot of Black men, and now they came up with him, because he went to that park from time to time.” Barron also pointed out that Lewis “has no history of violence.”
 
Wednesday’s sentencing is now postponed until Monday, when the judge will hear the arguments on a motion filed by the defense. Lewis’ defense team filed a 330 motion—to set aside the verdict—reportedly, because of a juror’s affidavit stating other jurors engaged in misconduct during the trial and deliberations.  Prosecutors claim they have affidavits from three other jurors who “deny and controvert” the claims made by this juror.
 
Lewis's supporters say he may have also been an easy target to frame since, as one of his lawyers, Robert Moeller, previously said "He does have some mental issues.”
 
If Monday’s motion fails Lewis could be sentenced on Tuesday—possibly to life.
 
More reporting on this case to come by The Black Star News. Please contact the writer at colin_b30@yahoo.com
 
 
 

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