Adnan Syed, the subject of Serial’s first season who is serving a life sentence for murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, is finally getting his day in court, and the podcast that brought his story to a new audience is continuing to tell his story.
Serial fans who checked their podcast feeds this morning discovered two new episodes ready to download—the next installment of season 2, which is about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and an update about the three-day hearing in Baltimore, which will determine whether Syed will receive a new trial.
“This week, I’m going to do something I haven’t done before, which is duck back into Adnan Syed’s case for a few days to report on a court proceeding that’s happening in Baltimore,” Serial host Sarah Koenig explained at the beginning of the episode.
Instead of putting an update out every week or two weeks, as she’s done in the past, Koenig will put out daily updates about the hearings, which she is attending.
Syed originally filed a petition for a post-conviction relief hearing in 2010—long before fans ever knew about Serial—but that was denied in 2012. He won that appeal and was granted the post-conviction hearing in November.
The argument from Syed and his lawyers, which is covered in Serial, is that Syed’s original defense team failed him when he was convicted in 2000. They claimed that his defense attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, inadequately represented him because she was ill. (Gutierrez was disbarred in 2001 after receiving complaints from clients and died in 2004 after suffering from multiple sclerosis and diabetes.)
According to Syed’s lawyers, Gutierrez also failed to contact Asia Chapman (née McClain) as an alibi witness for Syed. They will also argue that the cell tower evidence that largely helped convict Syed was “misleading and should have never been admitted at trial.”
2nd part of #adnansyed 's argument for new trial is trying to discredit the cell-tower evidence that placed him at the scene— Christian Schaffer (@schafferwmar) February 4, 2016
Syed appeared in court with his friends and family there to support him, including longtime advocate Rabia Chaudry, who is tweeting about the hearing. (She’s also criticized Koenig for how she’s presenting Syed in the podcast.)
Lee’s family didn’t attend the first day of hearings. In a statement, they called Lee the “true victim” and they want to bring this chapter of their life to an end.
Statement frm Hae's family says she's the true victim; want to her life celebrated rather than "man who killed her" pic.twitter.com/2WPxyRzU3v— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) February 3, 2016
Members of Lee’s family did show up for the second day of proceedings.
About 30 members of Hae Min Lee's family / friends just arrived. Made statement yest. saying they would not be here but they are #AdnanSyed— Christian Schaffer (@schafferwmar) February 4, 2016
The first two days of testimony largely focused on Chapman’s story. She originally wrote letters to Syed offering help and noting that she had seen him in the library the day that Lee died. Although Rabia Chaudry, a longtime advocate of Syed, contacted her about the alibi, Gutierrez never did. When Brown contacted her in 2010, she was dissuaded from helping the case by prosecutor Kevin Urick, who told her that “[Syed] killed that girl.”
Koenig interviewed her for Serial, but Chapman originally thought it was for an article. It wasn’t until after Serial came out that Chapman heard that Urick claimed she had been pressured sure write an affidavit about the day Lee died. Shocked at how she was represented, she decided to help Syed’s case.
“It placed a great weight on my heart to make sure justice could be fairly evaluated,” Chapman testified.
During Thursday’s hearing Chapman was cross-examined by the prosecution, which is trying to discredit her story. The court also heard from Chapman’s boyfriend at the time, Justin Adger.
Dep. Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah is trying to discredit Asia McClain's account of her recollection of seeing #AdnanSyed Jan. 13, 1999— Christian Schaffer (@schafferwmar) February 4, 2016
The court is now hearing testimony from an expert on cell tower technology. The hearing is still ongoing, and it’s unclear if a decision will be made at the end of the hearing or at a later date.
Update 11:30am CT, Feb. 5: According to ABC’s Christian Schaffer, the hearing will receive an extension.
BREAKING: Just got word the #adnansyed post-conviction proceeding will be extended beyond today. Will find out how long, soon— Christian Schaffer (@schafferwmar) February 5, 2016
Photo via stuart.childs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III