Back in October of 2019 I discovered the podcast ‘SERIAL,’ which is a three-season true crime podcast that follows different cases in each seasonal installment. The first season of the show focused on the case of Adnan Syed in which he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore in 1999. The podcast instantly attracted me to Adnan and his story as journalist and host Sarah Koenig shared the vast details surrounding Hae’s murder. Each episode focused on a new part of case, from interviews with Adnan and Hae’s friends to jurors to forensic “experts,” all of whom had extremely different opinions on the case.
However, there’s only so much information that a 12 episode podcast can reveal, so HBO developed “The Case Against Adnan Syed“– a four-part documentary about the parts of the case that SERIAL didn’t or couldn’t reveal. Adnan’s best friend’s sister Rabia Chaudry led the charge on the case, writing the book Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After SERIAL, and serving as a fact-checking guide on both the podcast and on the documentary series. “The Case Against Adnan Syed” shared familiar information SERIAL listeners learned on the podcast and examined new evidence about the case. The most groundbreaking information the documentary revealed at the time armed believers of Adnan’s wrongful conviction with new evidence as then-recent tests found no trace of his DNA on Hae’s body or in her car, none of his fingerprints were found on her vehicle, and the autopsy contradicted the prosecution’s claims. The case was full of contradictions, misinformation, junk science, bad policing, false witness testimonies, and poor representation (his lawyer was disbarred), so yesterday, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn overturned Adnan’s conviction.
The prosecutors shared doubts about Adnan’s guilt due to questions of other suspects and evidence used against him during trial. According to the Baltimore Sun, “Phinn ordered Syed placed on home detention, wearing a GPS monitor, while Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office chooses whether to drop his charges or to try him again for murder in his ex-girlfriend’s death. Prosecutors have 30 days to make a decision.” Of course Adnan is still at risk of returning to court should Mosby’s office re-file charges against him, but for now, Adnan is free and in the world where he belongs. I’m also devastated for Hae Min Lee’s family that they have to relive such horrific trauma and I hope that one day they’ll find peace whether her killer is caught or not. 23 years is an extraordinarily long time for anyone to suffer in prison and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’m so thrilled that Adnan is home!