'Serial' Subject Adnan Syed Denied New Trial by Courts

Maryland's highest court denied Adnan Syed a new trial on Friday, despite the international outcry from the Serial podcast and the new HBO documentary.

Syed was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his high school girlfrend, Hae Min Lee. However, in 2014 a popular true crime podcast called Serial reexamined his case. The NPR-affiliated podcast brought international attention to the case, and in the last few years, Syed's family and lawyer's have been trying to get him a new trial.

Those efforts came to a halt on Friday. According to a report by the Huffington Post, the Maryland Court of Appeals opted to reinstate Syed's murder conviction, despite the worldwide outcry. Syed's attorney, Justin Brown, responded to the decision, tweeting, "We will not give up. #FreeAdnan."

Syed got his murder conviction in 1999, when his high school girlfriend was found murdered in a public park. Years later, Serial explored the strange case and the quirks in it. Among them were potentially faulty evidence, such as the imprecise science of pinpointing cell phone calls at the time. There was also evidence ignored altogether, such as key witness Asia McClain, who gave Syed an alibi.

McClain was one of the big reasons Syed's appeal moved forward. There was also a lot of so-called "armchair detective work," as true crime podcasts were on the rise. Listeners were put off by one of the prosecution's witnesses, Jay Wilds, whose story was full of holes.

Syed's first request for an appeal after Serial was denied. However, in 2015 the state allowed him to give it another shot. The Maryland Superior Court decided to hear the case later that year, and in 2016, Judge Martin Welch approved a new trial. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld that decision last year, yet last week, the Court of Appeals voted the other way. Syed's appeal for a new trial was overturned.

The news came just two days before the premiere of The Case Against Adnan Syed, a new docuseries on HBO. The show debuted on Sunday, March 10 with the first of four episodes. The show has been in production since 2015 and features Syed's family as they do everything they can to help his legal team get him free.


In spite of the bad news in court, the show will move forward. The Case Against Adnan Syed airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Previous episodes are streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.