Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was highlighted in the groundbreaking podcast “Serial,” was reinstated on Tuesday after spending more than two decades in prison for the 1999 killing of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
Adnan Syed Murder Conviction Reinstated
By a vote of 2-1, the appeals court found that Young Lee, the victim’s brother, had been denied his right to be present at a crucial hearing.
“Because Mr. Lee’s right to notice of, and right to attend, the hearing on the State’s motion to vacate was violated by the circuit court…” The court stated in its ruling that it has the authority and duty to correct the wrongs that have been done, so long as it may do so without subjecting Adnan Syed to double jeopardy.
We remand for a new hearing on the motion to vacate that is lawful and transparent, where Mr. Lee is given a warning of the hearing that is enough for him to participate in person, supporting evidence of the motion to vacate is provided, and the court outlines its reasons supporting its decision.
David Sanford, an attorney for the Lee family, expressed his clients’ “pleasure” with the court’s ruling.
Sanford told that the family was “equally happy” that the Appellate Court had ordered a public hearing in which all evidence would be presented in open court.
After spending almost 20 years in prison for the murder of Hae Min Lee, Adnan Syed finally got out of jail in September after a judge overturned his conviction.
The defense claims Adnan Syed will always be a “free man”
Adnan Syed’s conviction was reinstated by the court of appeals “not because Precession to Vacate was erroneous.”, but because Ms. Lee’s brother did not appear in person at the vacatur hearing,” according to Syed’s attorney and director of the Innocence Project Clinic, Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter.
According to a statement released by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, Suter said, “We agree with the dissenting judge that the appeal is moot and that Mr. Lee’s attendance over Zoom was sufficient.”
Adnan Syed should not be re-traumatized by being labeled a criminal again. Adnan is still considered to be at large, according to his lawyer.
Suter continued, “We remain optimistic that justice will be done.” We plan to appeal to the state’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Maryland, and we won’t stop fighting for Adnan’s freedom until his convictions are overturned in their entirety.
About eight years after the podcast investigated the case and questioned Adnan Syed’s conviction and legal representation, the decision to vacate Syed’s conviction was made.
Judge Melissa Phinn of the Baltimore City Circuit Court cited inappropriately withheld evidence from the state inquiry and the possible improper exoneration of two suspects as reasons for her resignation.
The reasons the victim’s brother demanded a new trial
Lee’s brother wanted a new hearing because he hadn’t been given enough time to prepare. Lee’s attorneys had claimed in court records that prosecutors and the circuit court that overturned Syed’s conviction had violated the rights of the brother, who was able to witness the proceedings in September via Zoom.
They claim this occurred because the brother was not given appropriate notice of the proceedings, evidence was withheld from the family, and he was not given a fair opportunity to present his case.
The family’s attorney, Sanford, argued in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals last month that the circuit court and prosecutors “failed repeatedly” before the decision to overturn Syed’s conviction in September.
The victim or the victim’s representative “has a right to be heard,” the lawyer stated.
Adnan Syed Murder Conviction Reinstated by Maryland Court (Video) Watch Now