Adnan Syed, was released from prison on September 19, after being behind bars for 23 years. Syed was convicted in 1999 for the murder of his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, despite steadfastly defending his innocence. After a mistrial in 1999, Syed was found guilty of murder in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. After 14 years of his sentence had passed, Syed’s case gained widespread attention after it was featured on the Serial podcast. On the episode, host Sarah Koenig, questioned the credibility of the evidence used to incriminate Syed and the inconsistencies among the prosecution's witnesses. The podcast further relayed that Syed had an incompetent lawyer throughout the trial, who was eventually disbarred. All of these components contributed to his unfair conviction. The podcast’s release was a phenomenon hailing over a hundred million downloads in its first year. Following Serial’s success, Syed’s story re-emerged and gained wide-spread media attention. About a year later, a Maryland court agreed to hear Syed’s appeal and soon granted him a hearing to introduce new evidence. Syed’s defense team pointed to the defendant’s previously negligent attorney, who did not call on certain witnesses who could have supported Syed’s alibi nor question the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Journal of Equal Rights and Social Justice website on October 10, 2022. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Maxman, Julia, "How a Podcast and Docuseries Helped to Release a 14 Year Prisoner" (2022). ERSJ Blog. 29.