Mom of man convicted in Karina Vetrano murder proclaims son's innocence

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The mother of the man convicted of killing a jogger in Queens says her son was set up.

She's declaring his innocence in an exclusive interview with ABC's Nightline.

Chanel Lewis was convicted of killing 30-year-old Karina Vetrano while she was out jogging in Howard Beach in 2016.

The jury foreman told Eyewitness News the guilty verdict was a 'slam dunk'.

But Lewis's mother Veta says her son was a scapegoat. And she said he was an easy target for police.

"They believe that my son is helpless, so this is one of the reasons why they did this to him," said Veta Lewis. "They were looking for somebody... place this. I think that's the reason why they chose him."

In the interview, Veta Lewis said she knows her son, and the son she knows is not a murderer.

Last week the courtroom erupted in celebration when the verdict was read.

Chanel Lewis was guilty of murder and sexual abuse for the brutal beating and strangulation of Vetrano in August of 2016.

In an Eyewitness News exclusive, the jury foreman Brian Morrisey told N.J. Burkett that jurors agreed quickly on the murder charge and said they did not feel pressured or rushed to render a verdict.

"We just deduced, 'It had to be him, it had to be him,' you know. His DNA was on her, too," said Morrisey.

"So you look at things and the big cases that I've had in my career, I'm as positive in this case as any case I've ever had," said former NYPD Chief of Detectives and current ABC News contributor Robert Boyce, who says he has no doubt.

"My fear is always in this it would come down to a racial issue, one of the fears we had," said Boyce. "That's why we didn't put it out there, that he was a male black, we knew from the DNA profile. We kept race out of this thing. The amount of evidence recovered here by the detectives, the hard work that they put in, really shows that he is the perpetrator."

Meanwhile, Veta Lewis says she hasn't spoken to the Vetrano family, but says she is sympathetic. "I'm sorry for their loss, but I would definitely let them know that my son is not the killer," she said.

Lewis's Legal Aid attorneys says the two confessions were coerced and that the DNA evidence was unreliable.

They say Chanel did not receive a fair trial and are promising to appeal.

The jury foreman says the evidence was overwhelming.

You can watch Veta Lewis's exclusive interview with ABC News on Nightline tonight at 12:35 a.m.

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