Family of victim in ‘Serial’ murder asks court to halt case

Relatives contend they were not given enough notice about a court hearing last month over whether Adnan Syed’s conviction should be overturned.

Maryland Serial Podcast
Maryland Serial Podcast

The family of the victim in the murder case chronicled in the first season of the Serial podcast has asked Maryland’s intermediate appellate court to halt Adnan Syed’s court case pending the family’s appeal of a judge’s overturning of Mr Syed’s murder conviction.

Young Lee, the brother of victim Hae Min Lee, asked the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in a six-page motion filed late last month to suspend further proceedings, including an October 18 deadline by which prosecutors must decide whether to drop the charges against Mr Syed or retry him for the killing.

He contends that the family was not given enough notice about a court hearing last month over whether Mr Syed’s conviction should be overturned.

“The Lee family is not seeking, through this motion or through the appeal, to impact Mr Syed’s release from custody,” said the family’s lawyer, Steve Kelly.

“If the wrong person has been behind bars for 23 years, the Lee family and the rest of the world want to understand what new evidence has led to that conclusion.”

Baltimore circuit judge Melissa Phinn overturned Mr Syed’s conviction on September 19. The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said it found evidence that should have been disclosed to Mr Syed’s lawyers.

Prosecutors moved to vacate Mr Syed’s conviction on September 14. That followed a year-long investigation and was two days after they notified the Lee family, the family’s motion says.

Then on September 16, Mr Syed’s lawyers and prosecutors discussed the motion at a meeting in Judge Phinn’s chambers.

Adnan Syed leaves court after Judge Melissa Phinn overturned his first-degree murder conviction in the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun/TNS/Alamy Live News/PA)

Judge Phinn ordered a new trial, but prosecutors were given 30 days — until October 18 — in which to dismiss the charges or proceed with a new trial.

Mr Syed has always maintained his innocence. His case captured the attention of millions in 2014 when the debut season of Serial focused on Ms Lee’s killing and raised doubts about some of the evidence prosecutors had used, inspiring heated debates about Mr Syed’s innocence or guilt.

Mr Syed was serving a life sentence after he was convicted of strangling 18-year-old Ms Lee, whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park.

Prosecutors said a reinvestigation of the case revealed evidence regarding the possible involvement of two other possible suspects. The two suspects may be involved individually or may be involved together, the state’s attorney’s office said.

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