Adnan Syed murder conviction reinstated after appeal from victim’s family
The murder conviction of Adnan Syed, who spent over 20 years in prison before being exonerated, has been reinstated by a Maryland appeals court.
Mr Syed, 41, was arrested in 1999 for the killing of classmate Hae Min Lee, though he has always maintained his innocence. The story of the case was featured in the hit podcast Serial. In 2022, local prosecutors dropped the charges against Syed, citing new DNA evidence.
The Appellate Court of Mayland held in its ruling, released Tuesday, that officials didn’t give Lee’s brother Young Lee sufficient notice and explanation of a September 2022 hearing where officials sought to toss the original conviction from 2000.
Mr Lee was given two day’s notice of the motion to vacate, and expressed his disagreement via email over the state’s intention to drop the case, according to the court.
The panel’s 2-1 ruling said the state needed to hold a new "legally compliant and transparent" hearing to consider Mr Syed’s case, WBAL reports.
In a dissent, Judge Stuart R Berger dissented argued Mr Lee was able to participate virtually in the eventual hearing.
”Not only did Mr. Lee ‘attend’ the proceeding — albeit virtually — as was his right under both the vacatur and the victims’ rights statutes, but the trial judge permitted both Mr. Lee and his counsel to address the court during the proceedings, something the Majority and I both agree neither statute requires,” Judge Berger wrote.
The Independent has contacted Mr Syed’s attorney for comment.
”We stand by the integrity of the evidence that exonerated Adnan and urge the Baltimore Police and States Attorney’s office to find the source of the DNA on the victim’s shoes and find Hae Min Lee’s actual killer,” Rabia Chaudry, a family friend of Syed’s and public advocate for his innocence, wrote on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office said it is still reviewing the decision.
“We must allow the appeals process to play itself out, Mr Syed and his legal team may file for an appeal to the Maryland Supreme Court, and we must respect their rights to do so until those rights are either heard or that request is denied; we are in a holding pattern,” the spokesperson told The Independent in a statment. “Any further comment would be premature at this time.”
The case is likely to be appealed to the state supreme court.
It is unclear whether Mr Syed will have to return to prison. Since leaving jail, Mr Syed has been hired by the Georgetown University Prisons and Justice Initiative.
The Lee family has said they disagreed with how prosecutors handled the timing of the case.
“All they are seeking is what the law requires — a full evidentiary hearing in which they can meaningfully participate and one that makes public the relevant evidence,” Steve Kelly, their attorney, said last year.