Enduring a prosecutor’s blow by blow of the horrific final moments of her daughter’s life proved too much for the mother of a Queens woman murdered while out for an after-work run.
Karina Vetrano’s mother, Cathie, sobbed silently as Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal told the court how her daughter’s accused killer Chanel Lewis, 22, “squeezed” the life out of the 30-year-old jogger on a bright, sunny Aug. 2, 2016.
“He placed his hands around her neck and he squeezed and he squeezed,” Leventhal told the court in his opening statement at Lewis’ Queens murder trial. “He strangled her until she was dead.”
Vetrano was murdered while out on a solo run at 5 p.m that day on a remote dirt path through some underdeveloped marshy land — despite her dad’s warning not to jog there alone.
Amid a police search of the desolate stretch her former firefighter father, Philip Vetrano, found the young woman’s body in the high-weeded area off 165th Avenue and 78th Street at about 10:30 p.m., sources told The Post at the time.
Philip, who was not in the courtroom Monday because he is expected to testify this week, screamed after making the gruesome discovery.
“He fell to his knees hysterical and cradled her, lifted her to his chest,” the prosecutor said. “He will tell you she was stiff. He will tell you he knew her life was gone.
“His little girl was gone and she wasn’t coming home,” Leventhal told the panel.
Leventhal said Philip Vetrano, who regularly ran with his little girl, told her he couldn’t join her that evening because his back was hurting. But his daughter assured her, “‘Don’t worry, daddy, it will be alright,’” Leventhal said.
But she never made it home.
The defendant, dressed in a gray suit for court, groped at, pulled and ripped Vetrano’s clothing as she fought for her life during the struggle, the prosecutor said.
Authorities said that after he beat and strangled her he dragged her limp body into the dense brush before dumping her there and disappearing.
“She fought for her life. She tried to get away but he overpowered her,” Leventhal said, adding the attacker was much taller and heavier than Vetrano.
Prosecutors said Lewis had pictures of Vetrano and the crime scene on his phone. He also had photos of his hand injuries that were taken shortly after the incident.
At the hospital, the defendant told staff he hurt his hand while jogging in the park, Leventhal said.
He was arrested six months later and his DNA matched evidence found on the victim.
“The evidence in this case is overwhelming,” Leventhal said.