Judge denies request to vacate conviction in Karina Vetrano murder trial

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, April 22, 2019
Judge denies request to vacate conviction in Karina Vetrano murder trial
NJ Burkett has the latest on the Karina Vetrano murder trial.

KEW GARDENS, Queens (WABC) -- A judge on Monday denied a defense motion to set aside the guilty verdict against Chanel Lewis in Karina Vetrano's murder after hearing arguments regarding alleged juror misconduct.

Lewis, whose sentencing was postponed last week because of those allegations, will now learn his fate at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Juror Christopher Gooley testified about three possible incidents of juror misconduct during the case. The verdict was reached after just five hours of deliberations, which began at 4 p.m. after a long day of closing arguments and continued into the evening.

Gooley told the judge he was exhausted and cracked under pressure from his fellow jurors to convict Lewis, that two jurors held themselves out as forensic experts in the jury room, and that when he tried to send the judge a note about adjourning deliberations for the evening, jury foreman Brian Morrissey ripped it up.

Gooley claimed one of his fellow jurors brought up a previous rape trial he'd served on, another said he'd made up his mind before the trial was over, and a third said she had been raped, reportedly saying during deliberations that "she knows better" and "You're just a man. I've been raped."

Under cross examination, Gooley said that comments from Morrissey were what inspired him to come forward to "tell his story."

Eyewitness News broadcast an exclusive interview with Morrissey the day after the verdict was reached, at which time he told us the verdict was "a slam dunk" for the prosecution.

"I was unhappy he was speaking for us," Gooley said.

Gooley, who is an actor and producer by profession and has an Master of Fine Arts degree, admitted that a guilty verdict "might not look well" to people in the theater community, who view themselves as liberals. He also admitted that he had some concerns that the guilty verdict might hurt his reputation.

Prosecutors claimed Gooley was simply seeking his 15 minutes of fame and asked if he told fellow jurors, as alleged, "I'll see you tomorrow on Good Morning America?"

"There were a few jokes going around," Gooley said. "I might have said that."

His attorney clarified that while the Morrissey interview was a factor in his decision to come forward, it was one of a few factors. Gooley apparently had misgivings moments after the verdict was rendered. Prosecutors presented affidavits from other jurors disputing those claims and insisted the verdict was valid.

"His credibility is an issue and his motivation is an issue," the prosecutor said.

Lewis was convicted on April 1 of murder and sexual assault after the jury decided he was behind the attack on Vetrano while she was out jogging in Howard Beach in August 2016.

Lewis's mother, Veta Lewis, is standing by her son's side.

"I know the child that I raised," she said. "And God did not give me a murderer."


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