EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (WABC) --The mother the man accused of killing Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano said Wednesday her son is not a criminal.
Vita Lewis spoke with reporters in Brooklyn, reading a prepared statement.
"I raised my son to be a God-fearing man and to respect life," Lewis said of 20-year-old Chanel Lewis. "My son is friendly, God-fearing and would not hurt anybody."
Police said Chanel Lewis, in a fit of rage, "lost it" and strangled Vetrano in Spring Creek Park on August 2, 2016. Lewis allegedly gave a detailed account of the attack to arresting officers but denied any sexual assault.
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His mom, though, insisted he did not commit any crime - and said he needs assistance.
"My son has a mental health problem and needs help," Vita Lewis said. "He's not a criminal and needs mental resources."
Watch Vita Lewis' full statement here:
Chanel Lewis was charged with second degree murder in the case.
Click here for more coverage of Karina Vetrano's murder.