After the charges against Adnan Syed in connection with the Serial case were dropped last year, his murder conviction has been reinstated by the Maryland Court of Appeals, per WBAL-TV.
A three-judge panel at the Appellate Court of Maryland said the city of Baltimore failed to uphold the rights of Hae Min Lee’s family to attend the hearing on Syed’s release. The court has called for a “legally complaint and transparent” hearing on the motion to vacate the sentence against Syed, who was found guilty for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000.
State law dictates that victims or representatives of victims must be given appropriate notice to attend hearings for a motion to vacate sentences, and her brother Young Lee was only told about the hearing days before it started in September, 2022. Per the court’s opinion, Lee responded to the email and expressed disagreement with the decision to vacate Syed’s convictions, and was not given enough time to get to the hearing in Baltimore from his home in California.
“Because the circuit court violated Mr. Lee’s right to notice of, and his right to attend, the hearing on the State’s motion to vacate… this Court has the power and obligation to remedy those violations, as long we can do so without violating Mr. Syed’s right to be free from double jeopardy,” reads the court's opinion. He attended the hearing virtually, but the opinion states that wasn’t adequate and violated the rights of the victim’s family.
Attorney Rabia Chaudry, who is also a family friend of Syed’s, has maintained his innocence in a post shared on Twitter. "We stand by the integrity of the evidence that exonerated Adnan and urge the Baltimore Police and States Attorney’s office to find the source of the DNA on the victims shoes and find Hae Min Lee’s actual killer," wrote Chaudry. It is unclear if Syed will need to return to prison.
Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee were the subject of the hugely popular podcast Serial in 2014, which brought renewed attention to the case. He served over 20 years behind bars following his 2000 conviction, but was effectively exonerated last year. According to prosecutors, more recent evidence appeared to undermine the conviction.