Karina Vetrano murder: Petition to re-open Chanel Lewis conviction as claims are made of prosecutorial misconduct and racial profiling in case. But what about the evidence?
Maybe he didn’t murder her after all? An online petition signed by 40,000 people demands that the Queens District Attorney’s office review the conviction of Chanel Lewis, who was convicted of the 2016 murder of Howard Beach NYC jogger Karina Vetrano.
Come Tuesday, the online petition was turned to DA Melinda Katz’s office.
Lewis was convicted in 2019 of Vetrano’s murder in Spring Creek Park as the woman went running in Howard Beach. Prosecutors alleged that the 30 year old woman was attacked, sexually abused and strangled to death on Aug. 2, 2016.
Lewis is now serving a sentence of life in prison.
The groups leading the push for reconsideration on Lewis’ behalf say there are several factors in his case that suggest he may be innocent or was wrongly convicted.
A miscarriage of justice?
The petitioners also claim Katz of having broken a campaign promise in failing to reopen the case.
The groups alleged there is evidence pointing to a history of prosecutorial misconduct by prosecutor Brad Leventhal and raised concerns of racial profiling by police during Lewis’ arrest.
They also pointed to a mid-trial disclosure of significant scientific evidence and the defense’s assertion Lewis’ confession was coerced by police.
‘The blood of Karina Vetrano is on the hands of District Attorney Melinda Katz for not properly investigating this case,’ said the Rev. Kevin McCall, who was involved in spearheading the petition.
‘Chanel should not be in prison. He should have had a fair trial,’ McCall told the nydailynews. ‘The real killer is still on the loose. We are demanding that she live up to her campaign commitment and reopen the investigation.’
McCall said petition supporters — who include former DA candidate Tiffany Caban — were blocked from entering the DA’s office to deliver the petition so it was delivered at the entrance.
He said Katz has also not met with the Lewis family since her election.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz is facing renewed pressure to reopen the case against a Brooklyn man convicted of killing Queens jogger Karina Vetrano in 2016. https://t.co/IFZBdw7xEp
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) July 13, 2021
Will Queens District Attorney relent?
‘It’s not just us saying it,’ McCall said. ‘It’s 40,000 people saying it.’
Chris Banks, an East New York community activist, said the lead prosecutor in the case, Brad Leventhal, had been accused of prosecutorial misconduct in other cases.
Leventhal resigned from the office in March after Judge Joseph Zayas criticized him for ‘deliberately withholding’ evidence that could have led to the acquittal of three men in the 1996 murders of off-duty Police Officer Charles Davis and checking cashing store owner Ira Epstein.
Zayas made the remarks in reversing the convictions of George Bell, Rohan Bolt and Gary Johnson.
‘We want the DA to review the Lewis case. We believe there was prosecutorial misconduct that took place,’ Banks said.
Lewis’ appeals is being handled by attorney Ron Kuby, who said only, ‘We are hopeful that DA Katz will live up to her campaign promise.’
The Queens district attorney’s office declined to comment on the petition Tuesday morning.