BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Adnan Syed, the subject of a popular podcast Serial, will not be getting a new trial. On Friday afternoon, the Maryland Court of Appeals reinstated Syed’s conviction.
The Court of Appeals voted 4-3 that although Syed’s first trial was “deficit” it was not enough to overturn his conviction.
Justin Brown, Syed’s attorney, tweeted after the opinion was released,” We will not give up.”
He tweeted later Friday night, “I just spoke to Adnan. There is not an ounce of quit in him. I repeat: we will not give up. #FreeAdnan,”
Brown also issued a statement on his website:
We are devastated by the Court of Appeals’ decision but we will not give up on Adnan Syed.
Unfortunately we live in a binary criminal justice system in which you either win or you lose. Today we lost by a 4-3 vote.
Our criminal justice system is desperately in need of reform. The obstacles to getting a new trial are simply too great.
There was a credible alibi witness who was with Adnan at the precise time of the murder and now the Court of Appeals has said that witness would not have affected the outcome of the proceeding. We think just the opposite is true. From the perspective of the defendant, there is no stronger evidence than an alibi witness.
The Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Brosh released the following statement:
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision. Justice was done for Hae Min Lee and her family.”
Special Assistant Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah also contributed a statement:
“The State has always said that Adnan Syed‘s murder conviction was just and supported by overwhelming evidence. We are pleased with the Court of Appeals’ decision upholding Mr. Syed’s conviction. This has been an arduous process for Hae Min Lee’s family, and we are hopeful the decision finally brings them a measure of comfort and closure.”
Syed was convicted in February 2000 of killing his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Lee, who was 17 at the time, disappeared on Jan. 13, 1999.
Her body was found several weeks later in Leakin Park. An autopsy report stated Lee had died from manual strangulation.
At the time Syed and Lee were students at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Syed was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2014, the podcast Serial brought more light to Syed’s case. This American Life producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig narrated the story over multiple episodes.
The podcast raised questions around Syed’s conviction that was mostly based on cell phone tower data at the time that could have been a Brady violation. They also discussed how a key witness, Asia McClain, never testified at trial. Syed also claimed an ineffective assistance of counsel in his original trial.
In July 2016, Judge Martin P. Welch vacated Syed’s conviction and ordered a new trial.
The Maryland Special Court of Appeals then upheld Welch’s ruling last March.
The new trial would have allowed for McClain’s testimony to be heard in a court of law. According to McClain, she saw Syed the day prosecutors says he murdered Lee. McClain’s timeline would corroborate Syed’s claim he was at a library nearby.
After the decision Friday, McClain tweeted, “No words.”
She went live on Twitter Friday and said the 19-year-old case has taken a toll on her life. She said she suffers from depression and anxiety as she is crying.
“I was never expecting this situation to be where it is now,” Chapman said.
HBO was set to release a documentary on Syed’s case called The Case Against Adnan Syed Sunday.
McClain said “it’s petty” and “pathetic” by the state of Maryland for trying to shut down this case before the HBO documentary airs.
She said some of the documentary could be “game-changing” for Syed’s case.
Read the court opinion here: Adnan Syed case
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