Adnan Syed gets new trial
Adnan Syed, the 41-year-old who was the subject in the hit podcast series Serial, is set to appear in a Baltimore courtroom on Monday after prosecutors requested to vacate his 2000 murder conviction.
The hearing for the Maryland resident, who has been serving out a life sentence for the past two decades, was reportedly prompted from new evidence uncovered by the prosecution team.
“After a nearly year-long investigation reviewing the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and the latest evidence can be presented,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement.
Syed was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 2000. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence and denied any involvement in the young woman’s death.
It is unclear whether members of Lee’s family will also be in attendance, but a spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office confirmed to The Baltimore Sun that they had been notified about Monday’s proceedings, which were quickly scheduled through after being ordered by a judge on Friday.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn scheduled the hearing for 2pm.
Press conference announced in the case
A press conference has been scheduled for the case of Adnan Syed.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby will hold the briefing outside of the Elijah E. Cummings courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland, immediately after the 2pm court hearing.
Syed is expected to appear in court in person for the hearing, where Judge Melissa Phinn will decide whether to throw out his conviction.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 18:30
What we know about two alternate suspects in 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee
Wednesday’s court filing did not name the two alternate suspects in the case, citing an ongoing investigation.
However, prosecutors said that the two individuals were both known to the initial 1999 murder investigation and were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defence.
According to the new court documents, one of the suspects had threatened to kill Lee around the time of her murder. He said that “he would make [Lee] disappear. He would kill her,” the documents state.
While prosecutors have not named the two alternate suspects, there was one name that cropped up in the Serial podcast as a suspect in Lee’s slaying.
Ronald Lee Moore, a career criminal and accused murderer from Baltimore, was released from prison just 10 days before Lee’s disappearance and death.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:
Adnan Syed: What we know about two alternate suspects in ‘Serial’ murder
The Serial podcast named Ronald Lee Moore, a career criminal and accused murderer from Baltimore, as a suspect in Hae Min Lee’s slaying
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 18:00
Victim’s family remain silent
The family of Hae Min Lee have not yet spoken out since state prosecutors asked a judge to release the man convicted of her murder.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Sentencing Review Unit (SRU) Chief Becky Feldman filed a motion to vacate Adnan Syed’s conviction on Wednesday.
In a statement, Ms Mosby said Lee’s family had been notified.
“We have spoken with the family of Ms Hae Min Lee and [they] fully understand that the person responsible for this heinous crime must be held accountable,” she said.
Back in 2016, when Syed was granted his request for a new trial, Ms Lee’s family said they stood by the original verdict.
“Although this has made us relive a nightmare we thought was behind us, we thank the state for standing up for us and continuing to seek justice,” they said in a statement.
“We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her.”
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 17:30
Adnan Syed’s years-long legal battle
The request to overturn Adnan Syed’s murder conviction comes after a years-long legal battle where the former boyfriend of Hae Min Lee has maintained his innocence of any involvement in her 1999 slaying.
Syed was convicted of murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.
In February 2015 – 15 years on from the murder and one year after the release of the Serial podcast about the case – a court in Maryland finally agreed to hear an appeal of his conviction.
That November, he was granted a new hearing enabling his defence team to bring forward new evidence in the case.
In June 2016, Syed was granted a new trial but continued to be held behind bars, after a judge denied a motion for him to be released on bail.
The new trial was granted after his attorneys argued that Syed’s original trial lawyer, who later died, was grossly negligent. The defence also presented new testimony from a witness who said she saw Syed in the library at the time of Lee’s killing.
The state filed an appeal against the ruling but an appeals court sided with Syed once again in 2018 – upholding the decision to grant him a new trial and vacating his conviction.
However, Maryland’s highest court reversed the lower court’s ruling the following year, denying Syed a new trial and reinstating his conviction.
The US Supreme Court then declined a request to hear his case in November 2019.
Now, in September 2022, the state and the defence filed a joint request asking a judge to overturn his conviction and release him from prison.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 17:00
What do we know about the two alternate suspects?
In Wednesday’s filing, prosecutors called for Adnan Syed to be freed based on doubts about the validity of cellphone records as well as new information about the possible involvement of two alternate suspects.
Prosecutors said that the two individuals were both known to the initial 1999 murder investigation and were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defence.
Both have criminal records, with one convicted of attacking a woman in her car and the other convicted of serial rape and sexual assault.
According to the new court documents, one of the suspects said at the time of Hae Min Lee’s murder that “he would make [Lee] disappear. He would kill her”.
Wednesday’s court filing did not name the two alternate suspects citing an ongoing investigation.
However, Ronald Lee Moore, a career criminal and accused murderer from Baltimore, was previously named as a suspect in her slaying by the Serial podcast.
Moore, who died by suicide in a Louisiana prison in 2008, was convicted of burglary and was also suspected in a series of other burglaries, unsolved sexual assaults and murders across Maryland.
He was released from prison just 10 days before Lee’s disappearance and death.
In 2020, Moore was identified as the killer of 23-year-old Shawn Marie Neal who was found strangled to death in her condo in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1996.
No one was ever charged in her slaying and the case went cold, until DNA from the murder scene was finally linked to Moore almost 25 years on.
In 2013, Moore was also named as a suspect in the 1999 murder of Annelise Hyang Suk Lee in Baltimore.
It is not clear if Moore is one of the two alternate suspects now suspected in Lee’s murder.
DNA found at the crime scene and tested during the original investigation did not match Moore or Syed.
However, thanks to advances in technology, new DNA touch testing was carried out in March.
Prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday that the two individuals now suspected in the case “may be involved individually or may be involved together”.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 16:30
New DNA technology could have led to request to overturn conviction
New DNA technology could have helped lead to the request to overturn Adna Syed’s conviction.
In March, Syed’s defence team and state prosecutors filed a request for new DNA testing to be carried out in the case.
The motion called for the victim Hae Min Lee’s clothing to be tested for touch DNA.
Back at Syed’s 2000 trial, this DNA technology was not available.
Syed’s DNA was not found on any of the 12 items tested back then, according to his legal team.
It is not clear if the testing turned up any results.
But six months on from the filing of the motion, the state and defence are calling for Syed’s conviction to be overturned.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 16:00
Calls for new trial based on cellphone records and two alternate suspects
Baltimore prosecutors made the bombshell request for Adnan Syed to be released from prison based on doubts about the validity of cellphone records as well as new information about the possible involvement of two alternate suspects.
On Wednesday, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that “the State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction” and asked the court to overturn Syed’s 2000 conviction.
Ms Mosby said that the 41-year-old should be granted a new trial “at a minimum” and released on bail or on his own personal recognizance while the investigation continues into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.
The request comes after an almost year-long investigation uncovered new evidence about the possible involvement of two alternative suspects, said prosecutors.
The two suspects – who have not been named – “may be involved individually or may be involved together” in Lee’s death, they said.
The probe also uncovered the unreliability of cellphone tower data that was used as evidence to convict Syed at his original trial.
“After a nearly year-long investigation reviewing the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and the latest evidence can be presented,” said Ms Mosby.
Prosecutors stopped short of saying that the state believes Syed to be innocent, instead saying that they want to ensure the true killer or killers are brought to justice – whether that is Syed or someone else.
“As stewards of the court, we are obligated to uphold confidence in the integrity of convictions and do our part to correct when this standard has been comprised,” she said in a statement.
“We have spoken with the family of Ms. Hae Min Lee and [they] fully understand that the person responsible for this heinous crime must be held accountable.”
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 15:30
Adnan Syed’s brother ‘shocked’ by request for new trial
Adnan Syed’s brother has said that he was “shocked” to learn prosecutors were seeking a new trial but is hopeful that his sibling could finally be released after spending more than two decades behind bars.
“I think we were really, really shocked,” Yusuf Syed told WJZ.
“It was hard for us to kind of like believe it, because we’re so used to getting this far, but then someone sweeps the rug from underneath us.”
Yusuf has stood by his brother ever since he was arrested over the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, insisting he is innocent.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 15:00
Court hearing set for Monday
A court hearing has been set for 2pm ET on Monday.
Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn will consider a joint request from both state prosecutors and Adnan Syed’s defence attorneys to throw out his conviction.
Prosecutors filed a motion on Wednesday saying that Syed’s conviction should be vacated and he should be granted a new trial “at a minimum”.
They have asked that he be released on bail or his own personal recognizance while the investigation continues into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.
If the judge agrees, Syed could walk free from prison as early as today.
Under state law, the state would then have 30 days to decide whether to drop the charges or to retry the case.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 14:30
Serial podcast calls prosecution’s request for new trial ‘big news’
The podcast which broke the case wide open has called the prosecution’s request for a new trial “big news”.
Serial told the story of the Hae Min Lee’s 1999 murder and the conviction of her former boyfriend and classmate Adnan Syed.
Following its release in 201, it was a huge hit and brought global attention to the little-known case.
It raised doubts about Syed’s guilt or – at the least – in the prosecution’s case.
On Wednesday, the Twitter account for Serial shared a link to a The Washington Post report that prosecutors had called for his conviction to be vacated and a new trial sought.
“This is big news. For the first time, Baltimore prosecutors are saying they don’t have confidence in Adnan Syed’s conviction and are asking for his release,” the podcast’s Twitter account posted.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 14:00