Adnan Syed’s hearing: What you need to know

Adnan Syed’s hearing: What you need to know

Adnan Syed spent 16 years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and now he has the chance to prove he's innocent through a 5-day long hearing.


When Adnan Syed was 17 years-old he was convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and is now back in court after serving 16 years.

Serial perplexed its audience with the details of Adnan’s conviction over 12 episodes examining evidence surrounding Adnan’s case, looking for the truth. Now on 2nd Feb 2016, Adnan and his legal team are undergoing a post-conviction due to the claim of a mistrial, based on his lawyer in the original trial, Christine Gutierrez. Over the first three days, Serial’s Sarah Koeing has attended the hearings in Baltimore and made episodes for the first three days she attended. The hearing was concluded after five days in court and here’s what you need to know:

Asia McClain was a key witness who was never contacted by Gutierrez. She could potentially place Adnan at the Woodlawn Public Library during the timeframe when Adnan was accused  to have been with Hae. Asia was confident in court while explaining seeing Adnan in the library and the details surrounding the day Hae went missing. Prosecutors attempted to discredit her credibility as a witness by questioning her testimony and showing her memory was weak.

The prosecution continued to shadow Asia’s testimony with the suspicion surrounding letters Asia had written to Syed after his conviction (which you can find here). Adnan’s legal team called Dave Erwin to the stand. David is a well spoken expert in criminal defence cases and described Asia as a “game-changer” for Adnan’s trial. He said there was no excuse for Gutierrez to have not contacted her. The defence had a list of 80 possible witnesses given to Gutierrez before the original trial. Out of the 41 the defence reached, Gutierrez had only contacted 4 of them and had never asked them to be witnesses.

New evidence surrounding the cell towers that placed Adnan at the park where Hae’s body was found were discussed extensively in court. The AT&T employee who was called to testify as an expert witness in Adnan’s original trial stated that he was unaware of the fine print disclaimer during the original trial, saying that incoming calls are not reliable for location.

The phone records were a key piece of evidence that linked Adnan to the park where Hae’s body was buried the night she had gone missing. These phone records were key to the state’s argument. Both sides brought forward different experts, one saying the original case cell phone records line up, and the other saying the original cell phone records are not reliable, ultimately leaving the judge to decide.

Adnan’s Lawyer C. Justin Brown said he believed that he presented a case to rule a mistrial and for the judge to grant Adnan a new trial. He tweeted this after the ending of the 5-day post conviction hearing:

Sarah Koeing attended the first three days of the new hearing, and closing arguments took place on Tuesday Feb 9th. She described the hearing as Adnan’s “fight for survival” and said it felt more like court than a hearing. The presiding judge is expected to rule in the next few weeks. Each possible outcomes of the hearing are each guaranteed to result in more appeals and courtroom battles.

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