Appeal Continues for Decades-Old Murder Case – Maryland Supreme Court Delays Reinstating Adnan Syed’s Conviction and Sentence

FILE PHOTO: Convicted murderer Adnan Syed leaves the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland February 5, 2016. The Maryland man whose 2000 murder conviction was thrown into question by the popular “Serial” podcast was in court to argue he deserved a new trial because his lawyers had done a poor job with his case. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

By Cheyenne Galloway 

BALTIMORE, MD – The Supreme Court of Maryland agreed late last week to delay the reinstatement of Adnan Syed’s conviction dating back to 1999, reported Alex Mann of the Baltimore Sun.

The State Supreme Court decision agreed with the request of Syed to overrule the Appellate Court of Maryland’s decision to restore the accused’s conviction and life sentence for the murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee.

Adnan Syed,43, continues to maintain his innocence.

The Sun wrote that Hae Min Lee’s body was found in Baltimore’s Leakin Park in 1999. Syed, the then 17-year-old, had just broken up with Hae Min Lee, leading detectives to hone in on Syed as the murder suspect.

He was immediately arrested and set for trial, where prosecutors created a narrative that Syed cracked after the breakup and, under the pressure of maintaining his image as the admired honor roll student, strangled Lee, according to the Baltimore Sun account.

“A jury found Syed guilty of murder, robbery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment in 2000. A judge sentenced him to life plus 30 years in prison,” wrote the Baltimore Sun’s Alex Mann.

However, after serving 23 years in prison, Baltimore prosecutors launched a reinvestigation of Syed’s case last year, which led to some discoveries concerning the decades-old hearing, reported Mann.

In light of the reinvestigation, prosecutors found two other suspects not disclosed to Syed’s defense team before going to trial and other injustices within the case, leading a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to withdraw Syed’s guilty verdict; he has been free since September, according to Mann.

The Sun said the victim’s brother, Young Lee, appealed the decision, arguing for “his right as a crime victim representative,” and, following Lee’s appeal request, the appellate courts decided Lee was not given sufficient notice of the appellate hearing that freed Syed because of the negligence of prosecutors and Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn.

Lee attended the appellate court hearing via video call. However, the court advised that he should have been present in person for the court’s order, which would reinstate Syed’s conviction to life imprisonment—beneficial to Lee while harmful to the newly-freed Syed, said the Baltimore Sun’s reporter.

In the Baltimore Sun’s report, Mann said that in the wake of this predicament, Syed’s lawyers argued “prosecutors voided Young Lee’s appeal when they dropped Syed’s charges.”

The Sun wrote that “though Young Lee received notice less than one business day before the September hearing, Syed’s lawyers said the court followed the law, and argued (the judge) still would have vacated Syed’s conviction if Young Lee attended the hearing in-person rather than by video call—and that the appellate court failed to consider that in its analysis.”

The Sun wrote, “After his release, Syed got a job with Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, where he supports incarcerated people and assists those returning to society. He also helps investigate claims of wrongful convictions.”

Marc Howard, executive director of the Georgetown initiative, said during a March interview with The Baltimore Sun that Syed has become “an invaluable member of our team.”

About The Author

Cheyenne Galloway recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies. Graduating at the top of her class and achieving the distinction Laurea cum laude in her Italian Studies major, she showcases her enthusiasm for knowledge, finding ways to think critically and creatively. She is particularly interested in writing and reporting on social justice and human rights, but as a writing/reporting generalist, she enjoys researching and communicating various topics through written expression.

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