Denied: No bail for Adnan Syed as judge deems him a flight risk

Judge says there is still “compelling evidence” against Syed in the murder of Hae Min Lee

Adnad Syed will remain in prison as he awaits a retrial for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a signal that while Syed may not longer be a convicted murderer, the Baltimore court system does not neccessarily see him as an innocent man.

Baltimore circuit court Judge Martin Welch denied Syed’s motion for bail on Thursday, citing in his decision the seriousness of the crime and the risk that Syed may flee:

“The circuit court finds that the nature and circumstances of the offenses are the most serious of nature and there is still compelling evidence against [Syed]. The circuit court also find that the nature of the evidence against [Syed] creates a greater risk of flight. The circuit court further finds that upon conviction, [Syed] still faces the potential sentence of life imprisonment plus thirty years.”

Syed was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison for the strangling murder of his ex-girlfriend Lee, then 18. The 2014 Serial podcast brought renewed attention to the case and highlighted some weaknesses of Syed’s legal defense — in particular, the absence of testimony from a classmate who could provide Syed with an alibi, who eventually testified at a post-conviction hearing in 2016.

Judge Welch vacated Syed’s conviction in June and granted him a new trial, a decision based largely on a discredited cell phone evidence that placed Syed near the location where Lee’s body was found, around the same time she was believed to have been killed. An attorney working for another podcast dedicated to the Syed case, Undisclosed, had discovered a disclaimer on the fax cover sheet of the phone records sent to prosecutors; a disclaimer that was not revealed at Syed’s trial. It stated that the records were only reliable for outgoing, not incoming, calls. The two calls that traced Syed’s phone to Lee’s murder site were incoming.

Syed’s retrial date has not been set, and is facing an appeal from the Maryland Attorney General’s office.


Photo courtesy Adnan Syed Trust