Murder Conviction of 'Serial' Podcast Subject Adnan Syed Reinstated by Maryland Court

Adnad Syed
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For now, Syed does not have to return to jail and his lawyer plans to appeal.

A Maryland appeals court reinstated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed Tuesday, according to a release from the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Syed was found guilty of the 1999 killing of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in a case that drew attention after the podcast "Serial" raised doubts about his guilt, Reuters reported.

Prior to the conviction being overturned last September, Syed has maintained his innocence and fought to appeal his ruling for decades.

However, on Tuesday an appellate court reinstated Syed's conviction for the murder of Lee.

In a 2-1 decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court failed to give Lee's family sufficient notice of the September 2022 hearing where Syed's conviction was ultimately vacated, as required by the state's law, BBC reported.

"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," the Maryland Court of Appeals said in its ruling. "Accordingly, we vacate the circuit court's order vacating Mr. Syed's convictions, which results in the reinstatement of the original convictions and sentence.”

The Maryland Court of Appeals did not specifically order Syed back to prison, but allowed for a two-month delay in the "mandate" of its decision to give the parties "time to assess how to proceed."

"The appeal was not about Adnan's innocence but about notice," Erica J Suter, Syed's attorney told BBC.

Suter, the director of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore, plans to appeal the decision to reinstate Syed's conviction, according to BBC.

Syed, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, has been behind bars for the last 23 years and serving a life sentence plus 30 years after he was found guilty of strangling Lee, his ex-girlfriend, when she was 18 years old.

Lee’s body was found buried in Leakin Park. Authorities at the time said Syed snapped when Lee broke up with him, and ended up killing her.

Syed has maintained his innocence and his case received widespread attention in 2014 when “Serial” raised new questions about Lee’s death, and highlighted questionable evidence in the case. The 12-episode podcast about Syed’s case won a Peabody Award.

He and his lawyers fought the conviction many times during his incarceration, most notably in 2016, when he was granted a new trial, but Maryland’s highest court later reinstated his conviction. Syed’s team then brought their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, where his plea for a new trial was denied in 2019.

Hae Min Lee’s brother, who participated in the hearing via Zoom from California, called the ruling “a nightmare.” “This is not a podcast for me,” he said, according to NBC Baltimore. “It’s real life that will never end.”

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