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Murder Conviction Reinstated in “The Case Against Adnan Syed”

Okabe & Haushalter Apr 11, 2019 Criminal Defense

If you have been following the HBO documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” then you may be still reeling about the shocking finale, which played out last week. During the finale, it was revealed that Syed was offered a resentencing deal, which he refused to take. He has been behind bars for 20 years for a crime he says he did not commit.

Syed first rose to fame when he was profiled in the popular “Serial” podcast. Sentenced to life in prison following the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend, Syed, age 17 at the time of the crime, had always maintained that he was not the murderer. In last Sunday’s episode of “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” prosecutors offered him credit for time served plus four years; he would also have to admit that he killed Lee. Syed refused, stating, “The type of deal that they’d be offering me, it’s like I’d be exchanging one prison for another.”

In 1999, Lee was a senior in high school when she was found dead in Leakin Park in Baltimore. An anonymous tip led police to pursue Syed for the murder. He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. There was never any physical evidence linking him to the crime. Following the “Serial” podcast, authorities conducted DNA tests just last year on evidence they recovered from Lee’s body and the crime scene, including fingernail clippings, blood samples, a condom wrapper and a liquor bottle. None of it matched Syed’s DNA.

Syed’s conviction rested primarily on an alleged accomplice’s account. His best friend, Jay Wilds, asserts that he helped to bury the body, and he also claims that Syed confessed the murder to him. “Serial” casts possible guilt toward the best friend. “The Case Against Adnan Syed” filmmakers say that Wilds “spoke to them and offered yet another account of the crime — one different from what he told the police.”

Previously, Syed had appealed his murder conviction based on his attorney’s failure to call a key witness to corroborate his alibi. He also raised questions about the reliability of cell phone location data that the prosecution said placed him near where Lee’s corpse was found. The appeals court sided with Syed, ordering his conviction thrown out, but prosecutors appealed to a higher court, which found just last month that he did not deserve a new trial. The court reinstated his murder conviction.

“Serial” made Syed a household name. The podcast, relatively obscure up until it took on Syed’s case, catapulted to the top of iTunes’ most popular downloads, achieving 5 million downloads faster than any podcast in the previous history. Media reports indicate that while not everyone is assured of Syed’s innocence, most agree he did not receive a fair trial.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, ensure that you get the fair trial to which you are entitled under the Constitution. At Okabe and Haushalter, we know how scary it can be to be accused of a crime you didn’t commit. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at 310-430-7799 to discuss your case particulars with our caring, compassionate team.