Lawyers trying to get a new trial for Adnan Syed, the convicted killer at the center of hit podcast “Serial,” and the state attorneys who are hoping to keep him behind bars are making their closing arguments today after resting their respective cases in Syed's bid for a retrial.
Syed’s lawyers -- C. Justin Brown and Christopher Nieto -- and members of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office will wrap up today before retired Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Martin P. Welch. Welch is likely to release a written decision at a later time, though he could issue a ruling from the bench today at the conclusion of the hearing.
Syed was convicted in 2000 of murdering his former girlfriend and Woodlawn High School classmate, Hae Min Lee, who was found strangled to death in Leakin Park in 1999. The prosecution at the time placed Syed at the site where Lee’s body was found, using incoming call location data that AT&T had said at the time was “unreliable” in a written memo that was never presented to the jury.
Syed’s lawyers have argued that the call location data should never have been used against him and that his former lawyer, the late Cristina Gutierrez, failed to properly cross-examine the state’s cellular phone expert during Syed's 2000 trial.
The state says not so, calling another cellular expert last week during Syed’s post-conviction proceedings who corroborated the expert testimony from 2000. He remained on the stand Monday morning.
Syed’s case was propelled into the limelight in late 2014 after Serial uncovered new evidence that could potentially help provide Syed with an alibi: Asia McClain, another classmate, says she saw Syed at the Woodlawn Public Library at around the same time the state says Syed murdered Lee.
McClain, now married and living in Washington state, was confident on the stand last week, saying she and Syed spoke for 15 to 20 minutes on Jan. 13, 1999. She wrote him two letters while he was in prison, offering to speak up on his behalf but Syed’s lawyer never sought her out for her potential alibi testimony.
Lawyers for Syed say he received ineffective counsel in 2000 and that his constitutional rights were violated. The Maryland Attorney General’s Office says he received a fair trial and says it believes Syed is the real killer.