Despite having no physical DNA linking him to this crime, Adnan Syed is serving a sentence of life in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Hae Min Lee disappeared on Jan. 13, 1999 and was dead by 2:36 p.m. that day. On June 6, 1999, Syed was sentenced to life, plus 30 years for her murder.
Fourteen years later, journalist Sarah Koenig received a letter in the mail from Rabia Chaudry, a friend of Syed’s family. Chaudry asked Koenig to write a story about Syed’s case in the hopes that someone would come forward with some more information. Koenig responded by creating “Serial,” a podcast.
Syed and Lee began dating in May of 1998 but because of their cultural backgrounds, as Syed is Muslim and Lee was Korean. Because of their strict parents, they were forced to keep the relationship a secret.
In the resulting legal battle of Adnan Syed v. State of Maryland, the state appealed to the emotional side of jurors. The case was made that Syed put everything on the line for his relationship, his family and his relationships at the mosque just so that eight months later, Lee could break up with him.
The State argued that this made him outraged and he murdered her. They also used his relationship against him by showing he had some sort of dual personality. They claimed that at home he is a good Muslim boy but outside of his home and the mosque, he was a delinquent. He smoked, drank and had sex. All these actions were proof of his bad character and that he was capable of such a crime.
The State’s case relies on one person’s statement. Jay, whose last name was never given, a friend of Syed’s, gave a statement to the Maryland Police Department hours before Syed was arrested. Jay said that Syed not only told him he was going to kill Lee, but that after Syed strangled her in her car, he called Jay and had him help bury Lee in nearby Leakin Park. Jay plead guilty to accessory to murder and got off with no prison time whatsoever. During the course of the case, Jay came back two to three more times to give statements to the police and every time his story changed, yet he was never looked at as a suspect. In addition to this, Koenig found out there was another witness.
Asia McClain, a schoolmate of Syed, wrote a letter to Syed a few weeks after he was in prison telling him that she remembered seeing him in the library around 2:15 p.m. the day Lee was murdered. McClain recalled they spoke for almost an hour and she left Syed in the library around 2:40 p.m. Lee was thought to be dead at 2:36. Syed’s lawyer at the time, Cristina Guitierrez, nor any of the detectives working on the murder case asked for a statement from McClain.
It seems that there may be a light at the end of what was thought to be a permanently dark tunnel. Because of the efforts of Koenig’s investigations and the help of new legal representation, possibly groundbreaking information has been found.
Thirteen days before Lee went missing, Ronald Lee Moore was released from prison by mistake while he was being transferred from one prison to another. During his short time out of prison a period of time corollating with Lee’s death,, there was a number of rapes and murders happening in various locations in Maryland. They hope to take what little DNA they do have and link it to Moore.
Because of this information, on Feb. 6, the state of Maryland granted Syed a leave of appeal. He will go back to court on the grounds that Syed’s former lawyer did not pursue a key witness to his alibi, and it will allow them to test the DNA they have.