Family of victim in ‘Serial’ case seeks new court hearing

Posted at 2:01 PM, December 9, 2022 and last updated 3:00 PM, July 7, 2023

By BRIAN WITTE Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — An attorney requested a new hearing on Friday on the motion that led to the release of Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial” already has been overturned.

Steve Kelly, an attorney for the family of victim Hae Min Lee, filed the request in a legal brief in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the state’s second-highest court.

Adnan Syed, center right, leaves the courthouse after the hearing, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Baltimore. A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered the release of Syed after overturning his conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial,” a true-crime series that transfixed listeners and revolutionized the genre. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The new hearing would require the prosecutor to present any evidence supporting the motion and give Young Lee, who is Hae Min Lee’s brother, the right to challenge the evidence and present his own.

The filing said Lee “lacked notice and a meaningful opportunity to participate,” and was excluded from a legal proceeding ”at which the state’s attorney and circuit court apparently decided the outcome.”

“Nothing Mr. Lee might have said in opposition could have altered the result,” the court filing said. “His statement was, at best, an empty ritual.”

Lee’s family has said it is not seeking to affect Syed’s release from prison in its appeal.

“Mr. Lee of course does not want to see a wrongly convicted man imprisoned, but it does no one justice for the court to make such pivotal decisions without the facts,” said Steve Kelly, an attorney for Lee’s family.

Prosecutors moved to vacate Syed’s conviction in September, after a yearlong investigation. A Baltimore judge ordered a new trial and freed Syed from prison, but gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to dismiss the charges or proceed with a new trial. The judge ruled that the state had violated its legal obligation to share evidence that could have bolstered Syed’s defense.

Hae Min Lee (Family Photo)

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced at an Oct. 11 news conference that her office had dismissed all charges against Syed.

Prosecutors have previously said that a reinvestigation of the case revealed evidence regarding the possible involvement of two alternate suspects. The two suspects may have been involved individually or together, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Mosby’s office also cited new results from DNA testing that was conducted using a more modern technique than when evidence in the case was first tested.

Syed served more than 20 years in prison for the strangling of Lee, who was 18 at the time. Her body was found weeks later, buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.

Syed has always maintained his innocence. His case captured the attention of millions in 2014 when the debut season of “Serial” focused on Lee’s killing and raised doubts about some of the evidence prosecutors had used. The program shattered podcast-streaming and downloading records.