Karina Vetrano’s Best Friend Says ‘Stop Feeling Sad’ for Murder Suspect

artolympic/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The best friend of Karina Vetrano, the New York City jogger who was found murdered six months ago, has issued a Facebook statement asking people to stop focusing on the suspect and instead focus on her friend's life.

"I want people to remember who is important here," wrote Vetrano's friend, Jaclyn, who declined to provide her last name.

"I refuse to post [the suspect's] picture or mention his name because he doesn't deserve to be acknowledged or remembered."

Vetrano was fatally strangled on Aug. 2, 2016, while jogging alone in Howard Beach, Queens, on a path where she and her father often ran together.

Vetrano's accused killer, 20-year-old Chanel Lewis, was arrested in New York City last weekend.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said police do not believe Lewis knew Vetrano "at all."

"From what his statements were, it was a chance encounter," Boyce said Sunday.

Lewis confessed after DNA evidence helped investigators identify him as the suspect, according to police.

"She had the DNA under her nails. She had touch DNA on her back, and there was more DNA on the cellphone. So three incidences that we were able to bring this profile up, and that's how we were able
to link it," Boyce said.

Lewis was charged last weekend with second-degree murder, police said. He made his first appearance in court Sunday and did not enter a plea.

The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Lewis, said in a statement on Monday, "We have a full defense team working on this case, including our DNA unit dedicated to scrutinizing the evidence

collected by local authorities ... We caution everyone — including the media — not to rush to immediate judgment. As our judicial system affords, Mr. Lewis is entitled to fairness and due process."

Lewis' attorneys did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for an additional comment on Wednesday.

"I raised my son to be a God-fearing man and to respect life," Vita Lewis, the suspect's mother, told reporters on Wednesday, according to ABC station WABC-TV in New York. "My son is friendly, God-fearing and would not hurt anybody.

"My son has a mental health problem and needs help," Vita Lewis said. "He's not a criminal and needs mental resources."

Vetrano's best friend said the public should focus their empathy on the victim, not the suspect.

"Stop feeling sad for him and be sad for her," her Facebook post continued. "She's not here to tell you what really happen (sic) that day in the weeds and we will probably never know."

Jaclyn told ABC News that Vetrano, her friend of seven years, was like her "other half."

"It is something I will never be able to live with," she told ABC News. "Finding him doesn't bring her back it just opens up the wounds all over again."

Jaclyn said she hopes Vetrano's family will get the justice they deserve.

Karina Vetrano's father, Phil Vetrano, told WABC-TV that he will "absolutely" be at Lewis' trial. "Every minute of the day," he said.

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