Tuesday 20 March 2018

Serial: Seven things you need to know about Adnan Syed's upcoming post-conviction hearing

Adnan Syed
Adnan Syed
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A US murder convict by the name of Adnan Syed hit headlines again this week when he received a court date for post-conviction proceedings in Maryland, US, meaning the possibility of a retrial.

Adnan Syed featured in the hit podcast Serial, which documented his trial and conviction for the 1999 murder of his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

The Serial podcast became the most popular podcast of all time, reaching over 120 million downloads as millions of people worldwide put on their amateur sleuth hats and investigated the trial's proceedings and Syed's conviction.

Here are ten things you need to know about the upcoming post-conviction proceedings:

1. The dates

The proceedings are scheduled to take place on February 3, 4 and 5, according to Newsweek.

Hae Min Lee was killed in January 1999
Hae Min Lee was killed in January 1999

2. The hearing

Post-conviction hearings are separate to the appeals process in the United States. Inmates usually get just one post-conviction hearing per trial and they are limited to newly-discovered evidence. If successful, it could mean a retrial for the inmate. A Baltimore circuit court granted the post-conviction hearing in November of last year.

3. The murder

Adnan Syed is now 34 years of age and is serving a life sentence plus 30 years since 2000 for killing Hae Min Lee. The victim went missing in January 1999 when they were both students at Baltimore's Woodlawn High School. Her body was found weeks later buried in Leakin Park, a few miles from the school. She had been strangled to death.

4. The focus

New evidence is set to focus on two aspects: new cell phone tower evidence and a testimony from a new witness with an alibi.

5. The 'pings'

Syed's attorney C. Justin Brown is expected to argue that the cellphone records from the cellphone tower (the series of 'pings') used to convict Syed were unreliable and should not have been allowed into evidence.

6. The alibi

Regarding the new witness, Asia McClain is expected to take to the stand to say she spoke with Syed in the school library during the time Lee was murdered. McClain spoke to the Serial podcast and filed an affidavit in January 2015 saying Syed's defense lawyer at the time, the late Cristina Gutierrez, never contacted her to be an alibi witness, according to Vice News.

7. The convict

It has been rumoured Adnan Syed will also take to the stand. He did not give evidence in the 2000 trial.

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