Adnan Syed’s legal team planning to appeal reinstated conviction

Attorney for Hae Min Lee's family speaks out after Adnan Syed's conviction reinstated

WMAR-TV spoke with the attorney Steve Kelly representing Hae Min Lee’s family who said they never got a fair chance to be included in the process to exonerate Adnan Syed.

Posted at 9:42 AM, March 30, 2023 and last updated 10:38 AM, March 30, 2023

By: Brittney Verner

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — The Adnan Syed case had supporters at opposite ends of the spectrum. This week national headlines were made after the Maryland Court of Appeals moved to reinstate Syed’s conviction.

WMAR-TV spoke with the attorney Steve Kelly representing Hae Min Lee’s family who said they never got a fair chance to be included in the process to exonerate him.

Its been five months since former States Attorney Marylin Mosby dropped the charges against Syed. This comes after new DNA evidence in this case excluded Syed. Mosby said the decision to reverse this is a dangerous one, and the attorney for Lee’s family said this is what they wanted all along.

Hae Min Lee (Family Photo)

Last September, a Baltimore city circuit court judge threw out Syed’s life sentence after he was accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, back in 1999.

Five months later, after Lee’s family attorney Steve Kelly appealed that decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals has now reinstated Syed’s conviction.

“Really all they want is answers about what the new evidence is, and what the reason, the precise reasons for the, you know, vacating the conviction were. I think it’s very unlikely that that he would be re-incarcerated, pending the outcome of the appeals,” Kelly said.

New DNA evidence obtained last September excluded Syed and pointed to other suspects.

“The fact that they were completely ignoring evidence, pointing to other suspects, the fact that they have evidence that could actually lead to an arrest in this case, but nothing seems to be happening, is of great concern,” Rabia Chaudry said.

Chaudry worked on the Innocence Project to help Syed get exonerated.

“Not only was a conviction reinstated, but charges were reinstated by a court, they reinstated charges. This is some of the scariest precedent I’ve ever seen in terms of innocence work like ever,” Chaudry said.

Prosecutors told Lee’s family the Friday before Syed’s hearing they would be moving to vacate his conviction. Lee’s brother Young even spoke via zoom during that hearing, but, Kelly said that wasn’t the appropriate way to exercise victim rights on behalf of the State’s Attorney’s office, which is why Lee’s family wants a do-over.

“You know, they want a new hearing that complies with the law where they are afforded their rights,” Kelly said.

Mosby sent out a statement about the news to reinstate the conviction part of which read:

This decision sets a dangerous precedent over a prosecutor’s ability to reverse an injustice. We notified the victim’s family in line with Maryland law and best practices, and they attended virtually and spoke. To now send this case back to court prolongs the pain for the Lee family, and leaves a cloud hanging over a man who deserves to be free, Adnan Syed.

People supporting Syed believe this is less about the family having a chance to be heard and more about a political debacle.

“Do I think a lot of this is undoing what Mosby has done? Yeah, I do think a lot of this is about that,” Chaudry said.

Adnan Syed gets emotional as he speaks to reporters

FILE – Adnan Syed gets emotional as he speaks to reporters outside the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal building after a hearing, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Annapolis, Md.  (Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP, File)

Meanwhile Lee’s family is hoping they will be granted another hearing that will shed light and them closer to getting justice for Lee.

“You know, our clients are very open to whatever justice requires. Whether that’s ultimately vacating the convictions and having investigating alternative suspects, whatever it is they want, they want to do it the right way. All they’re asking for is a redo,” Kelly said.

Next, Syed’s legal team could appeal this decision which could take years, or they could do the hearing over again.

Syed’s legal team believes it’s unnecessary, however, Lee’s family said they want to have a chance to see and hear all of the evidence in person so they can be there in support of her.

This story was originally published March 29 by WMAR in Baltimore, an E.W. Scripps Company.