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Charles Eckert

Chanel Lewis Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Queens Jogger

“I’m innocent,” Lewis said. “I’m sorry for the family’s loss, but I didn’t do this.”

A New York judge sentenced the man accused of sexually assaulting and murdering a Queens jogger to life in prison Tuesday, (April 23) despite there being accusations of a coerced confession and jury misconduct.

Cheers broke out inside a courtroom when 22-year-old Chanel Lewis learned his fate. He spoke briefly in court apologizing to the victim's family. “I’m innocent,” Lewis said. “I’m sorry for the family’s loss, but I didn’t do this.”

The victim, Karina Vetrano, 30, went jogging on a park trail in Howard Beach, Queens in August 2016 when prosecutors say she was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered. Her body was discovered in August 2016 by her father.

Lewis' sentencing was initially postponed amid accusations of jury misconduct. However, Judge Michael Aloise decided Monday to move forward with the sentencing. Lewis' first trial resulted in a hung jury and his defense team stated that a desire to swiftly put the case away led to Tuesday's sentencing.

“While there is no denying that Karina Vetrano’s death is tragic and that her family and friends suffered a great loss, every aspect of this case – from the police investigation to jury deliberations – was propelled by a desire to convict at all costs,” The Legal Aid Society, which represents Lewis, said in a statement.

Lewis' defense argued his two-taped confessions were coerced and there wasn't enough DNA evidence linking him to the crime. During the confession, Lewis reportedly said he was upset at his neighbor for playing loud music and when he saw Vetrano he "lost it."

He said he strangled the jogger but didn't sexually assault her. His defense team argued the DNA evidence wasn't gathered properly and didn't match the victim's injuries.

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Florida Judge Clears Record Of Man Who Overslept And Missed Jury Duty

A Florida judge made headlines last week when he sentenced a man to 10 days in jail for oversleeping and missing jury duty. Now, CNN reports the judge has cleared the young man's record.

Judge John Kastrenakes found 21-year-old Deandre Somerville in contempt of court for not showing up to jury duty during a civil trial. Kastrenakes vacated the contempt of court charge and cleared Somerville's record.

The West Palm Beach resident was originally sentenced to 10 days, 150 hours of community service, a written apology of no less than 100 words and $233 in fines. Judge Kastrenakes' decision prompted swift outrage on social media as Sommerville does not have a criminal record.

The judge reportedly reduced the sentence Friday when Sommerville appeared before the court to read the letter. "Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record. I left a criminal in handcuffs. This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom," Somerville said while reading his letter.

On Saturday the Judge said Somerville's letter was 'moving, sincere and heartfelt " and noted that he "has been totally rehabilitated."

Kastrenakes said he ordered probation because he wanted to send a message that jury duty is "is serious business deserving of attention, respect, and adherence to their oaths." However, he said Somerville is "a thoughtful and respectful young man."

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Courtesy of Trinity County Sheriff's Office

A Texas Man Robbed A Bank The Day Before His Wedding To Pay For The Ring

A Texas man has been charged with aggravated robbery for robbing a bank the day before his wedding to pay for the ring and venue.

According to reports, Heath Edward Bumpus approached a bank teller at Citizens State Bank on Saturday (Oct. 4) and said he had a weapon and demanded money, which he left with.

“He basically stated that he was getting married tomorrow so he didn’t have enough money for a wedding ring that he wanted to buy and he needed to pay for the wedding venue,” Sheriff Woody Wallace said.

After learning of the robbery, Wallace posted Bumpus' photo on Trinity County Sherriff’s Facebook page in hopes the public would assist with his capture. In an ironic turn of events, Bumpus' fiancee saw the photo, called him and convinced him to turn himself into authorities.

“His fiancée, who he was supposed to marry tomorrow, was able to get in touch with him on the phone when she saw our post on Facebook. She knew it was him. She contacted him and asked him if he robbed a bank. She convinced him that she knew it was him. His picture was all on Facebook. He needed to turn himself in,” said Wallace in a video posted to his Facebook page.

Wallace said most of the money was returned, along with the clothes he threw out the window of his car and the gun he hid during the robbery.

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Spencer Platt

NYPD Arrests 24-Year-Old Suspect In Quadruple Homeless Homicide

There appears to be no rhyme or reason behind the vicious attacks on five of New York City's homeless, which has left not only the community but other New Yorkers shaking their heads in dismay.

According to The New York Times, Rudy Rodriguez Santos was arrested and charged in the quadruple homicide, which took place at about 2 AM Saturday (Oct. 5) in the Chinatown section of the city. Authorities have not released the names of the victims but revealed one of them was an 83-years-old man. The fifth victim has been transported to a nearby hospital.

Advocates for the homeless say there's no way to know exactly how many men and women are living on the street, however, in a 2018 tally the number was 3,588, with 62,000 men and women living in shelters.

Blocks away from the scene, police found 24-year-old Santos holding a bloody metal bar. He was reportedly taken into custody without incident.

“The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks,” Michael Baldassano, the chief of Manhattan South Detectives said. “No one was targeted by race, age, anything of that nature.”

Santos was captured on surveillance footage approaching the area where one of the attacks took place. Another attack was recorded on a security camera. When approached by investigators, Santos identified himself in the video but didn't confess to the crime. He later asked for an attorney.

Tang Wu, a manager of the Forever Health Pharmacy at 2 East Broadway, caught the attacks on his store's camera and was flabbergasted at the callousness of it all.

“They have nowhere to live and you beat them to death,” Wu said. “How terrible.”

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