Adnan Syed calls for investigation into prosecutorial misconduct on protracted legal case
Sep 19, 2023, 2:21 PM | Updated: 2:30 pm
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Adnan Syed, speaking a year after he was released from prison when a judge vacated his conviction in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, emphasized his innocence again on Tuesday, as he faces yet another stage in his long and complex legal odyssey next month in Maryland’s Supreme Court after a lower court reinstated his conviction earlier this year.
Syed, who gave a presentation lasting more than an hour that was streamed online by news outlets, called on Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown to investigate what he alleged to be prosecutorial misconduct more than two decades into his case, which was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.”
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Brown,” Syed said, as his mother and younger brother sat nearby on a couch in the family’s home. “He has a long history of standing up for Maryland families, and we’re just asking that he please stand up for our family as well.”
Jennifer Donelan, a spokeswoman for Brown, said the attorney general did not have the authority to investigate allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
“We are prevented from commenting any further because, as you are aware, we are in the midst of ongoing litigation involving this case,” Donelan said in an email.
Syed, whose conviction was later reinstated by an appellate court this year, spoke for more than an hour with journalists in his family’s home in Windsor Mill. Maryland’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in his appeal on Oct. 5.
The Supreme Court is considering whether a lower court violated the rights of Young Lee, whose sister Hae Min Lee was killed in 1999 when she was in high school with Syed in a Baltimore suburb.
The Lee family is appealing a judge’s decision to vacate Syed’s conviction, saying the family received insufficient notice about the vacatur hearing, which was scheduled on a Friday for the following Monday. Maryland’s intermediate appellate court largely affirmed their arguments, reinstated Syed’s conviction and called for a new vacatur hearing.
Attorneys for the Lee family declined to comment Tuesday.
Syed, 42, noted that the judge’s decision to quickly schedule the hearing could have been out of respect for his family, which had suffered during the two decades of his incarceration.
“They have no idea if it’s Monday, am I going to be alive on Tuesday,” Syed said. “Am I going to be alive on Wednesday? And for years this has hurt them so much that my mom would stay awake at night.”
The Maryland Supreme Court will consider their appeals during oral arguments Oct. 5.
Syed, whose presentation included 93 slides summarizing the many twists and turns his case has taken over more than two decades, pointed to multiple criticisms that have been raised about the case against when it was brought against him.
For example, he highlighted failures to bring to light testimony by an alibi witness who said she saw Syed in a library that could have changed the outcome of his trial. Syed alleged that prosecutors weren’t truthful in statements about the witness.
Syed also noted unreliable cellphone data used during his court case to corroborate his whereabouts on the day of the crime. The notice on the records specifically advised that the billing locations for incoming calls “would not be considered reliable information for location.”
Syed also stressed the failure by prosecutors to disclose alternative suspects to defense attorneys during his trial in what’s known as a Brady violation, which was cited by a Baltimore judge last year when she vacated his conviction.
While Syed has remained free since his release last year, he could potentially be sent back to prison — a point he noted on Tuesday.
“If that court makes a decision that I have to return to prison, I’m going to be there,” Syed said.
Syed, who was 17 at the time of Lee’s death, has been working as an associate for Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative. After a mistrial, a jury convicted Syed in 2000.
Syed, who has always maintained his innocence, emphasized it again Tuesday.
“We’ve fought so hard for all these years to try to prove that I was innocent, but also to get justice for Hae and justice for her family,” Syed said.
This story corrects Adnan Syed’s age. He is 42.