The Intercept, August 2023
Even if you’ve never heard “Serial,” the true crime podcast that went viral in 2014, you’ve probably heard about the case it made famous. Adnan Syed was 17 years old when he was arrested in 1999 for killing 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore. A jury found Syed guilty the following year, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
After “Serial” premiered in 2014 and raised questions about the case, a Maryland court heard Syed’s appeal and he was awarded a new trial. Holes in the original prosecution were established, new suspects were identified, and DNA evidence was newly tested. After a long fight, his conviction was overturned last year, and the charges against him were officially dropped in October 2022.
In March of this year, though, Syed’s conviction was reinstated. Lee’s family had filed an appeal and argued that the state’s attorney — what the state of Maryland calls its local prosecutors — hadn’t given adequate notice for them to attend the September hearing to vacate Syed’s conviction, though Lee’s brother did attend the hearing on Zoom. Nonetheless, a panel of three appellate judges ruled 2-to-1 in the family’s favor and reinstated the conviction and ordered a new hearing.