The judge declared a mistrial Tuesday after jurors were unable to come to a consensus on a verdict after a day and a half of deliberations.
The closely watched case is now back to square one, leaving Vetrano's family stunned.
Lewis, 22, is accused of strangling and sexually abusing the 30-year-old while she was jogging through Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach.
Her father later found her body in a marsh near their home.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence linking Lewis to DNA on Vetrano and her cellphone.
"This girl jogging and one thing led to another, because of some other situation, hitting her and stuff like that," he told police, adding he hit her "five" times and she didn't scream "because her tooth broke."
"After that, she was just lying there, and then I got her by her ankles and then picked her up, threw her on my back and threw her in the bushes," he continued.
The jury said it was split Tuesday after exhausting all of its options.
Vetrano's family did not speak after the ruling.
Lewis's legal team, however, did.
"The jury is understanding that DNA is not all it, confessions are not all it. There are issues in the case that as you all see is much more complex," said Jenny Chung.
"It's not a convictions, so I guess that's a good thing, but closure would be a good thing, too," Robert Moeller added.
"As we have said since day one, this case is far from conclusive and the jury's deadlock proves this. The death of Karina Vetrano is tragic and our hearts go out to her family, but the rush to criminalize our client is not the answer nor is it justice. We will continue to fight on behalf of Chanel Lewis at the retrial in January," the Legal Aid Society said in a statement Tuesday night.
Lewis will remain behind bars while prosecutors move to retry the case. He's due back in court in January.
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