More than 170 million people downloaded the first season of NPR’s popular true-crime podcast Serial, spawning widespread scrutiny over the prosecution and conviction of Adnan Syed — who was was sentenced in 2000 to life in prison for the 1999 kidnapping and murder of his 18-year-old Baltimore high school classmate and ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
Now, as Syed remains behind bars despite the fact that a court overturned his conviction, HBO is unveiling a new four-part documentary about the controversial trial, titled The Case Against Adnan Syed.
Set to premiere in March, the series — directed by Directed by Academy Award nominee Amy Berg and in production since 2015 — will feature new interviews with Syed, his family, friends, former teachers, students, members of Baltimore law enforcement and witnesses in the case.
A description on the documentary’s website says it will feature “groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case,” in the form of new evidence previously undiscovered by investigators. It adds the series will “[underscore] the instability of memory and conflicting eyewitnesses.”
Efforts by Syed’s supporters to free him from prison were jumpstarted when Serial, hosted by former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, came out in 2014.
The podcast interviewed Syed’s high school classmate Asia McClain, who provided an alibi for him by saying she was with him at the time prosecutors claimed he had killed Lee.
However, McClain was not interviewed or called at trial by Syed’s original attorney, who has since died. Syed’s conviction was vacated and he was granted a new trial in 2016 when a judge agreed with the contention of Syed’s new attorney that he received deficient representation during his murder trial because McClain wasn’t called.
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The judge’s ruling was upheld by Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in 2018. Prosecutors have appealed that ruling to Maryland’s Court of Appeals, its highest court, but the date for that appeal is still pending.
In the meantime, Syed remains behind bars.
The Lee family has previously said Syed’s efforts to be freed were painful and that they believed he was her killer.
After the first day of Syed’s hearing for a new trial in 2016, prosecutor General Thiru Vignarajah read aloud a statement from them.
The hearing is forcing “us to relive a nightmare we thought was behind us,” the family said.
Their statement continued: “We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her.”