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Karina Vetrano slaying defendant in Suffolk jail fight, officials say

NYPD detectives with Chanel Lewis, after his 2017

NYPD detectives with Chanel Lewis, after his 2017 arrest in connection with the death of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano.   Credit: Charles Eckert

The Brooklyn man accused of killing and sexually abusing Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano more than two years ago was checked out at a hospital after he got into a fight with another inmate at a Suffolk County jail, officials said Saturday.

According to a spokesman for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Chanel Lewis, 22, got into a fight on Friday and was sent to nearby Peconic Bay Medical Center where medical staff there cleared him for a return to the Riverhead Correctional Facility. Chanel is being held there while awaiting retrial.

The spokesman couldn’t elaborate about the nature of the fight or any injuries but said that after Lewis was returned to Riverhead he was housed in a different part of the jail. Internal disciplinary charges could result because of the fight, the spokesman added.

After a nearly three-week trial last November, a Queens jury failed to agree on a verdict for the charges against Lewis and retrial is slated to begin in Queens State Supreme Court on March 12 .

Lewis was arrested in February 2017 on charges that he strangled and sexually abused Vetrano, 30, as she jogged in a park near her home the evening of Aug. 2, 2016. Police said Lewis dragged Vetrano’s body into the weeds of Spring Creek Park.

A spokesman for the Legal Aid Society, which is representing Lewis, declined to comment Saturday. Spokeswomen for the Queens District Attorney's Office, and the New York City Department of Corrections, which had originally housed Lewis at Rikers Island, didn’t return email messages for comment. 

It remained unclear over the weekend why Lewis, who lived in East New York, was being housed in the Suffolk jail. Last December, Lewis had reportedly complained about his living conditions at Rikers, alleging that the city jail traumatized him .

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