Adnan Syed's murder conviction reinstated by Maryland's Court of Appeals
BETHESDA - Adnan Syed's murder conviction was reinstated Tuesday following an opinion released by Maryland's Court of Appeals.
The Appellate Court of Maryland ruled the state’s law provides victims with the right to prior notice of the hearing on a motion to vacate convictions, and that right was violated in the case of the family of Hae Min lee, Syed’s ex-girlfriend and high school classmate who died more than two decades ago.
The court ruled that giving her brother, Young Lee, only one business day before the hearing was "insufficient time to reasonably allow Mr. Lee, who lived in California, to attend the hearing in person," and required him to attend the hearing remotely.
"Because the circuit court violated Mr. Lee’s right to notice of, and his right to attend, the hearing on the State’s motion to vacate … this Court has the power and obligation to remedy those violations, as long we can do so without violating Mr. Syed’s right to be free from double jeopardy. We can do that, and accordingly, we vacate the circuit court’s order vacating Mr. Syed’s convictions, which results in the reinstatement of the original convictions and sentence," reads the opinion. "We remand for a new, legally compliant, and transparent hearing on the motion to vacate, where Mr. Lee is given notice of the hearing that is sufficient to allow him to attend in person, evidence supporting the motion to vacate is presented, and the court states its reasons in support of its decision."
Though Syed’s conviction has been reinstated, he will not be taken back into custody. The Appellate Court of Maryland ordered a new hearing Tuesday to be held, while also not violating Syed's right to be free from double jeopardy. The opinion states that the reinstatement of Syed’s original convictions and sentence will be effective 60 days after the opinion’s release to give "the parties time to assess how to proceed in response to this Court’s decision."
Syed was sentenced in 1999 to the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Prosecutors dropped charges against Syed in September 2022 in the 1999 killing of Lee after additional DNA testing excluded him as a suspect in a case that was chronicled by the hit podcast "Serial." Lee's family had asked the court for a redo of the September hearing that led to Syed’s release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.