Maryland Court Reinstates Adnan Syed’s Murder Conviction

The Appellate Court of Maryland on Tuesday reinstated the convictions of Adnan Syed for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, agreeing with Young Lee that prosecutors and the presiding judge who vacated the conviction didn’t give him enough time to attend the hearing in person.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn vacated Syed’s 2000 conviction in September, after prosecutors and Syed’s attorneys revealed other possible suspects in Lee’s strangling death and some crucial evidence was deemed unreliable, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

Young Lee said he intended to appeal the ruling, while then-Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby dismissed the charges.

Appellate Court Judges Gregory Wells and Kathryn G. Graeff, however, found merit in Lee’s appeal and reinstated the conviction and the charges. They did not, however, agree to allow Lee to present or challenge evidence at a new hearing, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Syed’s case the murder of Hae Min Lee was the subject of the first season of the true crime podcast “Serial,” hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig. The season aired first in 2014 and has been downloaded more than 80 million times by 2016, the Washington Post reported.

Lee, an 18-year-old student at Baltimore’s Woodlawn High School, was Syed’s ex-girlfriend. She was last seen on January 13, 1999, and found dead on February 9 in Leakin Park. An anonymous phone on February 12 suggested Syed, then 17, might be a suspect, and he was arrested and charged with first degree murder two weeks later. His first trial ended in a mistrial, and he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison at his second trial.

Syed’s attorney, Erica Suter, told the Sun she plans to appeal the appellate court ruling to Maryland’s Supreme Court .

“There is no basis for re-traumatizing Adnan by returning him to the status of a convicted felon,” Suter said. “For the time being, Adnan remains a free man.”

The appellate court judges set a 60-day window for their ruling to take effect, meaning Syed will not immediately return to prison.

Judge Stuart R. Burger dissented from the majority ruling by Wells and Graeff. He argued that the rights of victims — in this case Hae Min Lee’s brother — was a policy matter that should be decided by legislators and not by a court.

Syed will return to court — with the same judge who presided over the hearing that set him free last year — if his attorney does not appeal the ruling or if she does and the Supreme Court rules against him. It will be handled by a new state’s attorney, Ivan Bates, who took office in January. He said during his election campaign that he agreed Syed’s conviction was flawed.

For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast.

[Featured image: Adnan Syed, center, leaves the Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)]