Who killed Hae Min Lee? Prosecutors seek to overturn Adnan Syed conviction after 'Serial' podcast raises questions

The claims of the state's attorney for Baltimore City include 'the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction'

Who killed Hae Min Lee? Prosecutors seek to overturn Adnan Syed conviction after 'Serial' podcast raises questions
Adnan Syed (L) was convicted in 2000 for killing his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee (R) (WJZ screenshot/YouTube)
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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: Prosecutors in Baltimore have requested a re-trial of the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, where her boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted. The story of this crime became popular after it was featured in the famous podcast 'Serial'. 

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On Wednesday, September 14, the state's attorney for Baltimore City said that new evidence has created doubts regarding Syed's conviction and then went on to request to vacate the verdict and suggest a new trial date to be set. 

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According to DailyMail, Syed is currently in prison and is serving a life sentence plus 40 years and the attorney has also asked to release him immediately from jail without bond pending retrial. The claims of the attorney include ''the State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction." It also indicated the possibility of the involvement of two alternative suspects in the case. The prosecutors have previously stated that the two suspects were known to the initial investigators in 1999, but were not properly ruled out.

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Syed
Syed with his high school sweetheart, Hae Min Lee (HBO Screenshot/YouTube)

The case of Syed got popular after it was featured in the debut season of the famous podcast 'Serial' in 2014. The podcast also indicated the possibility of Ronald Lee Moore, who had left prison days before Lee's death and committed other crimes similar to her killing. Moore was jailed for many unrelated crimes, and police always claimed he was a suspect in an array of burglaries, unsolved sexual assaults, and homicide cases in Maryland in 1999. However, he committed suicide in 2008.

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Syed was 17 when he was convicted by the  court (HBO Screenshot/YouTube)
Syed was 17 when he was convicted by the court (HBO Screenshot/YouTube)

The filing also claims that prosecutors at trial failed to hand over key information to the defense team as required. This is called a Brady violation. The withheld information even included a witness statement about threats against Lee uttered by one of the other suspects, including the threat to kill her. Prosecutors had previously raised concerns regarding the validity of cell phone records and data that were presented in the original trial as key evidence.

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(HBO screenshot/YouTube)
Hae Min Lee was murdered when she was 17 (HBO screenshot/YouTube)

Syed's attorney Erica Suter in a statement said, "Given the stunning lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with increasing evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust conviction cannot stand." The statement further added, "Mr. Syed is grateful that this information has finally seen the light of day and looks forward to his day in court." Though Syed was 17 at the time of the murder, Syed was tried as an adult. He has perpetually maintained his innocence. In its debut 2014 season, the 'Serial' podcast revealed more information on the case and went on to break all records in podcast streaming. 

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Adnan Syed's requests for a retrial was rejected twice in 2018 and 2019 (HBO Screenshot/YouTube)
Adnan Syed's requests for a retrial were rejected twice in 2018 and 2019 (HBO Screenshot/YouTube)

The case still seems to have a lot of twists and turns. In March, a judge ordered that evidence from the case, including the victim's rape kit, be tested for DNA using technology. This is because the particular technology to evaluate the DNA wasn't available at that point in time. There are speculations about whether the new motion has been filed due to the results of the test.

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Two courts have previously rejected his request for a new trial. Cristina Gutierrez who was his lawyer during the first trial failed to contact an alibi witness, Asia McClain, who claimed she saw Syed at a library at the time prosecutors say he strangled Lee in 1999. Unfortunately, Guiterrez died. In 2018, the Maryland Court of Appeals denied Syed's request for a new trial even though it agreed his trial lawyer's work was lacking. 

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Meanwhile, in 2019, the US Supreme Court rejected Syed's bid for a new trial. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh in a statement at the time said the evidence against Syed "was overwhelming." Also, he added, "We remain confident in the verdict that was delivered by the jury and is pleased that justice for Hae Min Lee has been done." 

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