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.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil over

Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil overSpencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The weekend after a white nationalist rally collapsed into chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to the alleged murder of an anti-racism activist, protests erupted across the country against white supremacy, racism and the presence of Confederate monuments.

Boston, Massachusetts

Tens of thousands counterprotesting a rally purporting to be about free speech swarmed Boston on Saturday, leading to a few conflicts with police and widespread attention from traditional and social media.

A total of 33 arrests were made Saturday in Boston, primarily resulting from disorderly conduct and alleged assaults against police officers, the Boston Police Department said. Police indicated that some demonstrators were throwing rocks and bottles of urine, but that did not represent the majority of participants, according to Police Commissioner William Evans.

"99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons" and participated peacefully, Evans said.

Dallas, Texas

Thousands of demonstrators gathered around the area of Dallas City Hall Saturday at a rally calling for unity, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

More than a dozen activists, politicians and faith leaders spoke prior to a candlelight vigil, the affiliate reported.

Tensions were high near Confederate War Memorial Park, where calls have been growing to remove statues commemorating Civil War veterans who fought for the Confederacy, WFAA-TV reported.

Cotton candy and caramel apples for sale for $3 in the middle of this protest against Dallas' Confederate War Memorial. pic.twitter.com/SdWNhGmTP1

— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) August 20, 2017

Monuments commemorating the Confederacy on public land "must be and will be removed," Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway said at a Friday press conference, which featured black members of Dallas's City Council, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kevin Felder, one of the City Council members, said "taxpayer dollars should not support vestiges of racism and white supremacy," in reference to the statues, while speaking at Friday's press conference.

Five people were detained during Saturday’s rally and then released without charges, the Dallas Police Department told ABC News.

Memphis, Tennessee

Six demonstrators were arrested in Memphis following a rally to remove a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slavetrader and lieutenant general who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, according to ABC affiliate WATN-TV.

The monument has become a flashpoint of tension between anti-racism activists, who covered it with anti-racist signs on Saturday, and those who seek to protect the history of the Confederacy.

Gene Andrews, a caretaker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's boyhood home and a participant in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville last week, told the Tennessean newspaper that tensions over the monuments were building.

"I think people have had enough," Andrews told the paper. "Somewhere there’s going to be a line drawn. And if it’s a war that’s coming, so be it."

Our beloved @tamisawyer and other activists calling on @MayorMemphis remove Confederate statues. #TakeEmDown901 pic.twitter.com/bwjtTmEimp

— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) August 16, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia

Hundreds of groups gathered in Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday in Atlanta to march against racism and hate, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

The march ended at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the affiliate reported.

Hundreds of anti-racism marchers quietly filing into Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. #Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/gTApyUpWbI

— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) August 20, 2017

Indianapolis, Indiana

Anthony Ventura, a 30-year-old man, was arrested after police said he damaged the Confederate statue with a hammer, according to ABC affiliate WRTV.

Laguna Beach, California

In Laguna Beach on Saturday, a group of about 300 demonstrators met for a pre-emptive response to a far-right rally planned for that day, the Los Angeles Times reported. At the rally, participants planned to call attention to victims of crimes committed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Thank you to Saturday's rally at Main Beach for staying peaceful while expressing your First Amendment rights. #LagunaBeach pic.twitter.com/mufznrEBIL

— Laguna Beach Police (@LagunaBeachPD) August 19, 2017

Saturday’s gathering of counterprotesters, which was set up to show solidarity and strength, was officially called “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together.” Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.