Adnan Syed's conviction reinstated by US court
The subject of the hit podcast series "Serial" and an HBO documentary was freed after his conviction was vacated last September. A US court has now reinstated the murder conviction.
A Maryland appellate court on Tuesday reinstated the conviction of Adnan Syed for murdering his high-school girlfriend — chronicled in the hit podcast series "Serial."
Syed, who has spent two decades in prison after being given a life sentence for the 1999 murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, was released in September 2022 after a Baltimore judge vacated his conviction. This was a result of a year-long review by the State Attorney's office that concluded that two other suspects and DNA test results cast doubts over Syed's guilt.
However, the Maryland appellate court reinstated the life sentence, stating that the rights of the victim's brother, Young Lee, had been violated because he had not been given enough time to attend the court hearing in person. The court has ordered a new hearing where Lee will appear in person and witness the evidence supporting the motion to vacate Syed's imprisonment.
"Accordingly, we vacate the circuit court's order vacating Mr. Syed's convictions, which results in the reinstatement of the original convictions and sentence," the appellate court said.
The court has given both parties 60 days to "assess how to proceed in response" to the decision, meaning Syed will not immediately have to return to prison. Syed's attorney Erica Suter said she would ask the state supreme court to review the case.
Syed's case earned worldwide attention when the weekly podcast "Serial" revisited the case with a US journalist who cast doubt on his guilt. HBO also made a four-part documentary on the case named "The Case Against Adnan Syed."
About the Adnan Syed case
Syed and Hae Min Lee were in a relationship in high school which they kept hidden from their conservative parents. Lee disappeared in 1999 and was later found in a shallow grave leading to Syed's conviction and life sentence in 2000.
Former Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who left office in December, decided to drop the charges against Syed, saying additional DNA testing had excluded him as a suspect. This was after her office conducted a year-long review of the case and found prior prosecutors made significant missteps by failing to disclose two alternative suspects to the defense.
A court in the eastern US city of Baltimore, which is located in the state of Maryland, called for a hearing but gave Young Lee only one business day to travel from California to attend the hearing in person. The court refused Lee's request to delay the hearing by a week after which he attended the session via a video call.
The three-judge Maryland appellate court said that allowing the victim or their family enough time to be present in person for vacation hearings was consistent with procedures and that victims have to be treated with respect and dignity.