Maryland Supreme Court to hear arguments on Syed case

(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — The Maryland Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday in the ongoing Adnan Syed case that was the subject of the hit podcast “Serial.”

Syed spent 24 years fighting charges that he’d killed his former girlfriend in 1999.

Last year a judge vacated Syed’s conviction for the murder of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Young Lee, the brother and legal representative for Hae Min Lee, filed an appeal arguing that his rights were violated because he wasn’t given sufficient notice to a hearing that helped to vacate Syed’s conviction.

A Maryland appeals court in March reinstated Syed’s murder conviction after finding that the lower court violated the victim’s family’s right to attend a hearing on vacating the conviction. An appellate court panel voted 2-1 to reinstate the conviction, according to a court filing, saying “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.”

Despite his conviction being reinstated, Syed has remained free since September 2022. The Maryland Supreme Court will now determine whether to potentially send Syed back to prison or throw out his conviction. A ruling in the case is not expected until later this year.

Syed, who is now 42, had been serving a life sentence for more than two decades — more than half his life — since his arrest in 1999.

He was just 17 when he was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 2000.

He has maintained his innocence and denied any involvement in Lee’s death.

Judge Michelle Phinn ordered Syed’s release in September 2022, asking for his shackles to be removed after listening to the state and the defense make arguments.

She said that “in the interests of fairness and justice,” Syed should be released on his own recognizance after finding that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that could have helped his trial in 2000 and after new evidence was discovered that could have affected the outcome of his case.

The prosecution admitted they had failed to turn over evidence for two possible suspects who were not named or charged in the case.

The State’s Attorney for the city of Baltimore’s office moved to vacate his conviction, freeing Syed from prison before Lee’s family’ appeal was decided.

Mr. Syed’s lawyers have argued that Lee’s complaints “became moot” when prosecutors dropped the charges against Syed on Oct. 11, 2022, ending the criminal case against him.

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