Mom of suspect charged in Karina Vetrano's murder: 'He's not a criminal'

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.

RELATED: What we know about Karina Vetrano's suspected killer

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:
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Watch the unedited statement given by the family of the suspect charged in Karina Vetrano's murder.

Chanel Lewis was charged with second degree murder in the case.

Click here for more coverage of Karina Vetrano's murder.
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