By Tim Harfmann
The verdict that the family of the late Katrina Vetrano has been waiting for was finally rendered in court this week.
It was an emotional scene outside the Queens courtroom after the jury pronounced Chanel Lewis guilty on all counts of killing Vetrano while she jogged on a Howard Beach pathway.
The 30-year-old Vetrano, a graduate of Archbishop Molloy H.S., and St. John’s University, both Queens, was brutally murdered in August, 2016, while doing her exercise near her home.
“This is the end of a long journey for the Vetrano family and for Howard Beach,” said Father Francis Colamaria, pastor of St. Helen’s, Howard Beach, the Vetrano family’s parish.
“It’s caused an emotional state for this family that has really brought them to their knees. Who could imagine their daughter being brutally murder?”
Outside the family house, angel wings have been attached to a window on the second floor. A white bow and purple flowers are tied to a nearby telephone pole – both memorials to Vetrano.
Although the family members did not wish to speak to the press, Augustus Agate, a retired State Supreme Court judge and friend of the family, stopped to talk with The Tablet after leaving the Vetrano home.
“Obviously there is a closure to this,” said the judge. “It’s not a full closure. They still don’t have their daughter, but I could see a difference. They seem calmer.”
This was the second trial in the case after the first one ended in a hung jury. DNA evidence played a big part in convicting the accused.
The 22-year-old Lewis was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 17 and could face life in prison without parole.
“The case is over upon sentence, but there’s always the appeals process,” reminded Agate.
Father Colamaria said, “We say in our faith,‘the truth makes us free;’ but in his case, it doesn’t.”