Judge deliberates on new trial for 'Serial' defendant Adnan Syed

BALTIMORE -- A retired Baltimore judge who will determine whether a man convicted of a killing at the centre of popular podcast "Serial" deserves a new trial said the five-day post-conviction hearing that concluded Tuesday garnered more attention than any other proceeding he'd seen in the state.

See Full Article

That judge, Martin Welch, will decide whether Adnan Syed, who was convicted of killing his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison, will be retried. Syed's case became the focus of the first season of "Serial," a podcast that was streamed and downloaded millions of times and garnered a cult following that inspired armchair detectives all over the world to delve into the details of the case, unearthing new theories and evidence.

Defence attorney Justin Brown argued Tuesday that evidence brought to light by "Serial" and presented in court shows that Adnan Syed had an unfair trial. Brown cited numerous issues raised by the podcast, such as a key alibi witness who was never called and some cellphone data misrepresented as reliably linking his client to the crime scene.

"We proved our case. We did exactly what we said we would. I believe we met our burden and that Mr. Syed deserves a new trial," Brown said.

Brown said in a news conference after closing arguments Tuesday that the Syed post-conviction hearing "might have been the first-ever open-source case where all the materials of the case were out there, so people were investigating this case all over the country."

"I had thousands of investigators working for me, and that produced information we otherwise would not have had, and that helped us get to where we are right now," he said.

Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah countered that the evidence remains "overwhelming" that Syed was properly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Lee and burying her body in a wooded park on the northwestern edge of Baltimore.

"This is not a popular position, but the state's role is to do justice," the prosecutor said.

He acknowledged the interest generated by "Serial," a public radio podcast that extensively re-examined the long-closed case, but told the judge Syed had a "passionate, vigorous defence" at trial and was convicted not because of ineffective counsel or faulty evidence, but because "he did it."

Brown said cell tower data linking Syed to Lee's burial site was misleading because prosecutors presented it without a cover sheet warning that the information about incoming calls was unreliable.

Moreover, Brown said Syed's trial lawyer, Christina Gutierrez, was ineffective because she didn't contact Asia McClain, now Asia Chapman, who said Syed was with her at a public library during the time Lee was killed. She took the stand this time, vouched for Syed, and accused a prosecutor of twisting her words years ago to keep her away.

"A mistake was made not to talk to an alibi witness who could have turned this trial around," Brown later told the judge, calling her "earnest," "compelling" and "extremely credible."

"If Mr. Syed was with Ms. McClain at the library on Jan. 12, 1999, he didn't kill Hae Min Lee. He couldn't have," Brown concluded.

Appearing Wednesday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" program, Chapman said she "just happened to be at a specific place at a specific time."

She also said she understands the decision is in the judge's hands.

"I hope that enough information was presented to the judge for him to be able to make a rational decision," she said.

The prosecutor at the hearing argued that a pair of letters Chapman sent to Syed shortly after his arrest contained information that must have been funneled to her in a failed effort to construct Syed's alibi. He said records show Gutierrez had in fact investigated her, and determined that "Asia McClain wasn't a weapon for the defence; she was a potential weakness." Vignarajah also presented to the judge a document showing that Syed's defence attorneys interviewed a security officer at the Woodlawn library three days after Syed's arrest, proving that his defence team was pursuing the possible library alibi.

"I think Asia McClain was a very charming witness. But what Asia McClain presented in 1999 were two letters that were at best confusing and at worst, doctored. And a defence attorney like Cristina Gutierrez would have seen right through them," Vignarajah said.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Sinatra's fourth wife dead at 90

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — Barbara Sinatra, the fourth wife of legendary singer Frank Sinatra and a prominent advocate and philanthropist for abused children, has died at 90. John Thoresen, director of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, says she died Tuesday of natural causes at her Rancho Mirage, California, home. Source
  • Kendrick Lamar leads contenders for MTV's non-gendered VMAs

    Entertainment CBC News
    Kendrick Lamar's Humble is giving the rapper reason to brag: he is the leader heading into the MTV Video Music Awards with eight nominations. Lamar and his hit song are nominated for video of the year, artist of the year, best hip-hop video and other categories. Source
  • Chrissy Teigen says Trump blocked her on Twitter

    Entertainment CTV News
    Model Chrissy Teigen says she has been blocked on Twitter by U.S. President Donald Trump after years of trolling the Republican online. Teigen posted a screenshot from her Twitter account revealing she had been blocked from viewing the president's tweets. Source
  • Game of Thrones: Shattering the dragonglass ceiling

    Entertainment CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Westeros is no longer a man's world. Women are finally calling most of the shots during the seventh season of "Game of Thrones." And if recent economic history is any guide, greater gender equality could help make everyone better off. Source
  • Philanthropist Barbara Sinatra, widow of Frank Sinatra, dead at 90

    Entertainment CBC News
    Barbara Sinatra, the fourth wife of legendary singer Frank Sinatra and a prominent children's advocate and philanthropist who raised millions of dollars to help abused children, died Tuesday at 90. Sinatra died of natural causes at her Rancho Mirage, Calif. Source
  • 'No one likes you'; Trump blocks Chrissy Teigen on Twitter

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Model Chrissy Teigen says she has been blocked on Twitter by President Donald Trump after years of trolling the Republican online. Teigen posted a screenshot from her Twitter account revealing she had been blocked from viewing the president’s tweets. Source
  • Barbara Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's widow, dies in California

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A family friend says Barbara Sinatra, philanthropist and widow of legendary singer Frank Sinatra, has died in California. More to come. Source
  • Barbara Sinatra, Frank's 4th wife and philanthropist, dies at 90

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Barbara Sinatra, the fourth wife of legendary singer Frank Sinatra and a prominent children's advocate and philanthropist who raised millions of dollars to help abused children, died Tuesday at 90. Sinatra died of natural causes at her Rancho Mirage, California, home surrounded by family and friends, said John Thoresen, director of the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center. Source
  • Kendrick Lamar leads MTV VMAs with 8 noms, Perry and The Weeknd with 5

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” is giving the rapper reason to brag: He is the leader of the MTV Video Music Awards with eight nominations. Lamar and his No.1 hit song are nominated for video of the year, artist of the year, best hip-hop video and other prizes. Source
  • WayHome revises policy, allows attendees to bring naloxone

    Entertainment CBC News
    An Ontario music festival has reversed a policy that would have banned attendees from bringing their own injectable naloxone kits, saying patrons will be able to trade syringes of the opioid overdose antidote for a nasal spray that has the same effect. Source