Adnan Syed, the subject of the 2014 hit podcast “Serial,” saw his conviction reinstated as the brother of murder victim Hae Min Lee won an appeal vacating a Baltimore court’s decision to release him from prison.
Syed has maintained his innocence after being convicted in 2000 of murdering Lee, his ex-girlfriend, and Maryland prosecutors moved to vacate his convictions and life sentence after an investigation found undisclosed evidence in support of alternate suspects. His counsel on Tuesday quickly pledged to take the case to the state’s highest court.
Lee’s brother appealed after the circuit court vacated the convictions, alleging the state violated his right to attend the hearing by giving him only a day’s notice. Lee appeared electronically from California.
“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,” wrote Judge Kathryn G. Graeff.
The opinion vacates the circuit court’s decision, thereby reinstating Syed’s original convictions and sentence pending a new hearing.
Judge Stuart R. Berger dissented, believing the appeal was rendered moot by the state’s decision to no longer prosecute and that Lee’s rights to attend weren’t violated by his electronic attendance.
Erica J. Suter, counsel for Syed, issued a Tuesday statement backing Berger’s position that Lee’s attendance at the hearing via Zoom was sufficient and the appeal should be moot.
“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, " said Suter, an assistant public defender and director of the Innocence Project Clinic at University of Baltimore Law School. “Ensuring justice for Hae Min Lee does not require injustice for Adnan.”
The case is Lee v. State of Maryland, Md. Ct. Spec. App., No. 1291, 3/28/23.
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