Adnan Syed’s Murder Conviction Reinstated By Court
After being behind bars for 20 years, to being free for almost a year, Adnan Syed faces the possibility of going back behind bars for the murder of his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
In 1999, Lee was found partially buried in Leakin Park in Maryland after being strangled to death. After questionable testimonies, Syed was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
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Right from the start, Syed had a messy trial. His first trial started in December 1999 but ended in a mistrial three days later after the jury overheard Syed’s attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, talking to the judge. At his second trial, in February 2000, he was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment. Gutierrez was then fired.
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Syed made several appeals based on his attorney’s failings in calling a key alibi witness but was denied. In 2014, his case was popularized by the podcast Serial, which was downloaded more than 100 million times, and raised questions about the case.
In 2015, Syed requested a new trial based on the new information and suspects found and the misleading evidence from the prosecutors. In 2016 he was granted a new trial and his conviction was vacated, but his bail was denied.
However, in 2019 his request for a new trial was denied by the Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
In March 2022, Syed’s lawyers and the city prosecutors agreed to have DNA tests done on the clothes since it had not been done at the time of his initial trials. In September of that same year, Syed was released from prison after his murder conviction was vacated, and prosecutors said they would drop the charges if the DNA did not match Syed. Lee’s family then filed for a notice of appeal in hopes of making the murder conviction stick, but ultimately the charges were dropped when the DNA results cleared Syed.
However, a Maryland appellate court reinstated Syed’s murder conviction on the grounds that the victim’s family was not given sufficient notice of the September hearing. Maryland law states that, “Allowing a victim entitled to attend a court proceeding to attend in person, when the victim makes that request and all other persons involved in the hearing appear in person, is consistent with the constitutional requirement that victims be treated with dignity and respect,” and the Lee family was not given adequate time.
Therefore, the court decided to, “vacate the circuit court’s order vacating Mr. Syed’s convictions, which results in the reinstatement of the original convictions and sentence.”
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