The man accused of killing 30-year-old New York jogger Karina Vetrano blamed the murder on his emotions during statements made public in court Tuesday. Chanel Lewis, 20, said he “lost it” when he saw Vetrano running down a path in the borough of Queens in August.
“I grabbed her by the shoulders… I crouched over her and I punched her in the face multiple times,” said Lewis, according to the testimony. “I put both my hands around her neck and strangled her… I grabbed both of her wrists and pulled her off the path and into the weeds.”
“She didn’t do anything,” he said. “I was just mad at the time. I beat her to let emotions out. I didn’t really mean to hurt her. It just happened.” The accused killer said he got “madder and madder” as she fought back and strangled the jogger.
Lewis reportedly also asked one of the detectives to tell his mother he was sorry. Veta Lewis maintained her son’s innocence when reporters questioned her outside the courthouse Tuesday.
“My son was in no woods!” she yelled.
Lewis pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and other charges, including sexual abuse, in the death of Vetrano. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Vetrano left her family home in Howard Beach for a jog but never returned. Her body was later found among the weeds off a nearby running path, bruised, battered and half-clothed. Police mounted an extensive search for her killer before finally arresting Lewis in February.
“He’s a demon,” Cathy Vetrano, Karina’s mother, said in February.
Following his arrest in February, Lewis asked police if he could speak to somebody in Vetrano’s family.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said.
Lewis was scheduled to return to court July 13.