Judge Orders New DNA Testing In Adnan Syed Case From 'Serial' Podcast
In a move applauded by Kim Kardashian, evidence collected from the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee will be tested using modern DNA technology that was not available at the time Syed’s 2000 murder trial.
Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was profiled in the popular podcast “Serial,” has always maintained his innocence. Now, more than 20 years later, he may finally get a chance to prove it, as a city judge has ordered new DNA testing.
According to The Baltimore Sun, “clothing, shoes, and other pieces of evidence,” collected in the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, will be sent to a forensics lab in California. The order issued by Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn honors a joint request from the office of Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Syed's lawyer.
Something Kim Kardashian said she is happy to see. The reality TV star and aspiring lawyer shared a screenshot from a People.com article with the caption, "I cannot believe the DNA was not tested!!! This is such a win for Adnan Syed.”
At the time of Syed’s murder trial, in 2000, modern DNA technology called touch DNA was not available, The Baltimore Sun noted.
While authorities have maintained Lee struggled in a car with Syed before her death, Syed's attorney, Rabia Chaudry, argued for that to be true, a killer would have to be “in close proximity to the victim.” The new motion calls for DNA from skin cells or bodily fluids to be used.
Those items are different from the evidence tested in 2018 by the Maryland attorney general’s office, according to the Baltimore Sun.
People Magazine reported the motion states that state prosecutors believe there is a “reasonable probability” that the new DNA testing “has the scientific potential to produce exculpatory or mitigating evidence relevant to a claim of wrongful conviction or sentencing.”
Hae Min Lee was strangled to death and her body was discovered four weeks later in Leakin Park. Her ex-boyfriend, then 17-year-old Adnan, was arrested for the crime and sentenced to life in prison within a year.
As detailed by Serial, which boasts 300 million downloads of season 1, Adnan’s conviction was largely based on the story of one witness: Jay, who testified he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. Also told in the HBO docuseries, “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”
This isn’t the first time Syed’s lawyers have tried to appeal. In March 2019, Maryland’s top court upheld the decision to charge Syed with Lee’s murder.
The Maryland Court of Appeals rejected a claim that Syed’s trial lawyer “was ineffective for failing to contact an alibi witness who said she saw Syed at the library around the time of Lee’s murder,” as reported by the American Bar Association Journal.
The US Supreme Court also rejected Syed's bid for a new trial.
Chaudry, who first brought his case to the attention of the public radio show “This American Life,” which then became the “Serial,” spin-off, posted her excitement on Facebook for the new motion.
“For the first time in 23 years, we are not fighting the State anymore. They've joined us in this motion!” Chaudry wrote in a post. “It's not unheard of but is rare. It happens usually when the State believes the defendant may in fact be innocent.”