Could this new, four-hour documentary series finally uncover what really happened to Hae Min Lee?
Serial is the addictive 12-episode podcast that, after gaining huge popularity in 2014, left listeners desperate to know more.
It told the story of Baltimore teenager Adnan Syed, who was convicted for the murder of his high school girlfriend, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, in 2000. He has since spent 18 years in prison, but has consistently maintained his innocence.
After the case was picked up by producer and presenter Sarah Koenig, it quickly went viral as she re-examined dodgy witness statements and missing evidence, questioning if Syed was wrongfully convicted.
But although undeniably fascinating, the question mark that Koenig drew above Syed’s court ruling was also frustrating, because she never actually got to the bottom of what happened – or gave her own opinion one way or the other.
Since then, fans of Serial have been desperate to know more and find out the truth, sharing conspiracy theories and lapping up the subsequent book and podcast released by Syed’s family and lawyer, Rabia Chaudry.
In May 2018, we learned that Sky and HBO had commissioned a four-hour documentary series on the case. And now the first full-length trailer for The Case Against Adnan Syed has officially dropped, teasing some of what’s in store.
The two-minute trailer underscores the fact that, 19 years on, those closest to Syed and Lee still can’t agree on what happened the night that she was murdered. Director and producer Amy Berg gained unprecedented access to relatives, friends and teachers of Syed and Lee, and many of these individuals are seen expressing conflicting viewpoints about the events of 13 January, 1999.
“All I wanted was for that kid to be convicted,” says an elderly Korean woman (likely a friend or family member of Lee, whose family was Korean-American).
But her perspective is swiftly contradicted by a former school friend of Syed’s, who says: “I felt like, they’ve gotta have the wrong guy. If he did what he did, then who’s the person that I saw every day in class?”
And Syed’s lawyer Rabia Chaudry refutes the suggestion that the new investigation is pitting Lee’s family against Syed’s. There are no sides, she says: “When you’re working on a case that you think is a wrongful conviction, you’re only on one side. And that side is getting to the truth.”
The Case Against Adnan Syed will also feature interviews with Syed’s defence team, private investigators, members of Baltimore City law enforcement and audio recordings of Syed from prison. And the trailer indicates that the documentary will shine a spotlight on some genuinely case-changing evidence – which could potentially have an impact on whether Syed is released.
Perhaps most importantly, though, the documentary reminds viewers that while the potential mishandling of Syed’s trial may make for gripping entertainment, this is ultimately a deeply sad story about a young woman who was murdered – and a young man who may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.
“This was a person who had a life,” says a former classmate of Syed and Lee. “This is an interesting case – but it’s also people’s lives.”
The Case Against Adnan Syed premieres on HBO on 10 March. It does not currently have a UK release date – but we’ll keep you posted when that changes.
This article was first published on 17 May 2018 and has been updated throughout.
Images: Getty Images