Adnan Syed: His name has become recognized by the American public, and his story has been heard all over the country. Yesterday Syed, made famous by the Serial podcast was granted an appeal. The first season of the podcast which focused exclusively on his story has been streamed over 21 million times.
In 2000, Syed was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, Maryland and sentenced to life plus thirty years in prison. He was only seventeen years old at the time. He is serving the prison sentence because he was found guilty of strangling his ex inside of her car and then dumping the body. Sarah Koenig and her podcast team made this story known, not only to America, but to the world. She provided enough evidence to put doubt about Syed’s guilt in the minds of many people.
After being turned away from an appeal by the standard court system, he went to the Court of Special Appeals in January 2014. More than a year later, Syed of Serial was granted an appeal by Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser. “The Application for Leave to Appeal be and hereby is granted,” he wrote. What this means it that lawyers will now be able to present new evidence that could give the convicted man an alibi.
As explained on the Serial podcast, an important witness was a girl named Asia McClain. McClain states that she saw Syed in their high school’s library around the time of the death of Hae Min Lee. This evidence was not initially submitted to the courts by his lawyer at the time, Cristina Gutierrez.
A brief from the defense lawyers must be filed by March 16th and a brief from the state must be submitted by April 16th. The new court session will commence sometime in June. C. Justin Brown, who is presently serving as the defense, will submit evidence of the alibi and other defenses against the state’s murder charge. He will also be making a case that Gutierrez did not provide adequate legal defense to Syed during the original court sessions. She was in fact disbarred in 2001.
While Serial has gotten Syed many followers, Koenig’s podcast is not completely responsible for his appeal. The appeal was filed before the airing of Serial and Brown has been working on the case for more than five years. “It’s been a lengthy process.” He said in a statement made last year.
Last month McClain (the alibi witness) filed a new affidavit asserting that she was with Syed at the time of Lee’s murder. She also claims in the affidavit that she has never withdrawn her original account of what happened on the day of Lee’s murder despite claims on the contrary. This affidavit will be important during the new court session.
Adnan Syed’s name was publicized by Serial, his story was heard by millions, and now he will be granted an appeal. After years of litigation, the door might now be open to the convicted man. Oh, and the second season of the Serial podcast is set to air later in 2015.
By Emilee Prado
Photo by Kimberly– Flickr License