By David Brand
The Karina Vetrano murder trial resumes today in TAP D on the third floor of Queens Criminal Courthouse, where national and local media stake out spaces to photograph the families of the victim and defendant.
Chanel Lewis, 22, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Vetrano, 30, as she jogged in Spring Creek Park near her Howard Beach home.
Prosecutor Brad Leventhal and defense attorney Jenny Cheung delivered opening statements to the jury on the first day of the trial Monday. During his statement, Leventhal established a comprehensive account of the killing and repeatedly walked toward Lewis, pointing to him as the murderer.
Cheung requested a mistrial after she said Leventhal “exaggerated” DNA evidence discovered under Vetrano’s fingernails. Judge Michael Aloise denied the request.
In the defense’s opening statement, Cheung told jurors that prosecutors were attempting “to put a square peg in a round hole. They are twisting facts to fit a theory instead of twisting the theory to fit the facts.”
Two witnesses took the stand on the first day of the trial. NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit Detective Timothy Gentz and retired FDNY Firefighter Phil Guarnieri, a “close friend” of Karina’s father Phil Vetrano.
During their testimony, Leventhal revealed photos of Karina’s dead, mostly naked body. The images provoked loud gasps and sobs from her mother, sister and aunt.