Sometimes it seems that crime stories that are told in books, mini-series, and in other entertainment venues, are too strange or bizarre to actually happen in real life. But every now and then, there’s a tale that actually does have some basis in actual events. One of them is in fact unfolding in Maryland courts even today.
Murder Featured in “Serial”
“Serial” is a very popular podcast that tells multi-part stories involving actual crime stories. The first season of the podcast featured the story of a man convicted of killing his girlfriend. The episodes were based on events that are actually unfolding in Maryland.
The events surround Hae Min Lee, who went missing in 1999. After her body was discovered in a forest, her boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of murdering her in 2000.
But a friend of Syed’s says that she was with him at the time of the murder, providing what would appear to be a strong alibi for Syed. But her account, for reasons unknown, never made it into the murder trial. Syed puts some of the blame on his lawyers, who he contends wrongfully failed to present the witness’ information, among making other critical strategic errors during the trial. The witness herself even contends that the prosecution told her not to show up to parts of the post-conviction proceedings.
The Push to Have the Case Re-Opened
Although Syed was convicted fifteen years ago, the witness has said again that she would be willing to testify, and has provided an affidavit recounting the events of the night of the murder, accounts that could, if true, exonerate Syed.
The momentum to relook at the case has been fueled by its being featured in Serial. Many credit the groundswell of anger listeners had over the case, after listening to the podcast, for the attention the case has gotten.
But as you probably know from TV and movies, it’s not so easy to re-open a conviction, even where new evidence appears. Syed has overcome the crucial first step, however, as a Maryland appellate court has given approval for him to at least ask the lower court to reopen the case.
By doing so, the lower court could allow Syed to submit the affidavit into the court record, or even to have the witness testify, as she has said she’d be willing to do. Then, Syed would be able to petition the appeals court to determine if the entire case should be re-tried or whether he should be exonerated completely based on the new information.
If the case is re-opened, Syed doesn’t have to prove his innocence. He only has to prove that with the witness’ testimony he would not be likely to be a suspect beyond a reasonable doubt. The lower court is expected to rule in the next few weeks.
Obtaining and using all the available evidence can be a crucial part of a criminal trial. The criminal defense attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience at all stages of the criminal defense process. If you or someone you know was arrested in Maryland, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.