Queens County Politics has been closely watching one of the most controversial and racially charged Queens murder cases to hit the borough in some time and asked Borough President Melinda Katz, City Councilman Rory Lancman and former Judge Greg Lasak – the three declared district attorney candidates – to weigh in on it.
The case involves State Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise last month declaring a mistrial in the Karina Vetrano murder case in which the jury was deadlocked on convicting Chanel Lewis, 22, on murder and sexual abuse charges.
Lewis is black, and some jurrers had questions regarding the DNA evidence and Lewis’ confession. There are also questions reguarding how Lewis came to be arrested and how the overall investigation was handled.
The Queens DA’s office immediately said it is seeking a retrial, which is set to begin next month. The case also comes as criminal justice reform and wrongful convictions are two of the most talked about issues in the district attorney race.
Thus, QCP posed the following questions to the three announced candidates and below that is their answer:
QCP: Do you see any problems with this case and if so what? Additionally, as District Attorney, would you seek a retrial and why or why not?
Melinda Katz: “Deciding a course of action in a particular outstanding case without being in the position of District Attorney, and without access to all of the information, is a dangerous approach that can have disastrous consequences. Regardless, when a trial ends in a hung jury, a District Attorney must carefully re-examine the evidence – and in this case, the admissibility of that evidence – before deciding whether or not a retrial is the proper course of action.”
Greg Lasak: Declined to comment because he presided over the case in its early proceedings before leaving the bench to run for district attorney. He had not part of that case once it went trial.
Rory Lancman: Passed on the question and refused comment.