A court of appeal in Maryland has reinstated the earlier murder conviction of Adnan Syed for the death of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee, months after he was freed.
Adnan Syed has spent over two decades in jail for after his ex was found murdered. The murder case was featured in the landmark podcast “Serial.”
In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate court said the previous and lower court had violated the rights of the victim’s brother, Young Lee, to attend a key September hearing when a judge vacated Syed’s conviction, leading to his release.
In a statement, the court said; “because the circuit court violated Mr. Lee’s right to notice of, and his right to attend, the hearing on the State’s motion to vacate … this Court has the power and obligation to remedy those violations, as long we can do so without violating Mr. Syed’s right to be free from double jeopardy.”
“We remand for a new, legally compliant, and transparent hearing on the motion to vacate, where Mr. Lee is given notice of the hearing that is sufficient to allow him to attend in person, evidence supporting the motion to vacate is presented, and the court states its reasons in support of its decision,” it added.
The attorney to Lee’s family said they were very happy with the new court ruling. “We think it really represents a step toward transparency and the rule of law. You can’t have a trial by podcast or a trial by publicity,” he said.
However, he was quick to add that the family only wanted the truth about finding the real killer of their daughter.
“It’s in everyone’s interest, including Mr. Syed’s, to have all the evidence aired publicly. We want the truth. If Adnan Syed is not the guy, then we want him out,” he said.
However, Adnan Syed’s attorney, Erica Suter, who is the director of the Innocence Project Clinic holds that Adnan Syed is innocent and will remain a free man, arguing that the appellate court reinstated the conviction “not because the Motion to Vacate was erroneous, but because Ms. Lee’s brother did not appear in person at the vacatur hearing.”
“We agree with the dissenting judge that the appeal is moot and that Mr. Lee’s attendance over Zoom was sufficient,” Suter said in a statement provided to CNN by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.”
“There is no basis for re-traumatizing Adnan by returning him to the status of a convicted felon. For the time being, Adnan remains a free man.”
“We remain optimistic that justice will be done,” Suter added. “We intend to seek review in Maryland’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Maryland, and will continue to fight until Adnan’s convictions are fully vacated,” he said.
Why Hae Min Lee’s Brother Wants Another Court Trial
The victim’s brother had requested a redo of that hearing because he was not given enough notice to attend in person. Attorneys for Lee, who was able to watch September’s proceedings by Zoom, previously alleged in court documents that prosecutors and the circuit court that overturned Syed’s conviction had violated the brother’s rights.