Serial’s Adnan Syed could be freed on bail while awaiting new murder trial

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Kayleigh Dray
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Just a few months ago, it was announced that Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of popular podcast Serial, had been granted a new trial.

And now the 35 year old has requested to be released on bail, according to court documents filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court

If the motion is granted, Syed – who was convicted in 2000 of murdering his high school girlfriend, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee – will find himself free for the first time since he was 17 years old.

“Syed has now served more than 17 years in prison based on an unconstitutional conviction for a crime he did not commit,” the filing said.

“He has no history of violence other than the state’s allegations in this case, and if released, he would pose no danger to the community.”

The motion points out that the case against Syed has “crumbled”, explaining that the expert testimony about information from cellphone towers, which was used to assess his location on the day that Lee’s body was found in 1999, was cited as potentially faulty by Judge Welch when ordering the retrial earlier this year.

It also called into question the credibility of the prosecution's star witness, Jay Wilds, who had testified he helped Syed dig a hole for Lee's body.

In June, shortly after granting a retrial, Syed’s barrister, June Brown, said:  “The conviction is erased, it’s gone. As of this day, he’s not convicted anymore.”

Brown called the ruling an “incredible victory,” and said: “I’m feeling pretty confident right now. This was the biggest hurdle.

“It’s really hard to get a new trial.”

As fans of Serial will already know, Lee’s body was found in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, one month after she had been reported as missing. 

The popular student, who had excelled in lacrosse and field hockey, had previously dated and broken up with Syed, a fellow student at Woodlawn High.

This granted him with a motive for her murder (according to the state).

The young Muslim was sentenced to life in prison – but he has consistently maintained his innocence, pointing out on Serial that, according to evidence compiled against him, he only had a 21-minute window in which he could have murdered his ex-girlfriend.

This was re-examined further in Sarah Koenig’s 12-episode podcast, during which she also revisited evidence and questioned the legitimacy of the case against Syed.

Her award-winning podcast sparked many heated debates and arguments about what actually happened on 13 January 1999 – and inspired many to campaign for Syed’s freedom.

However Lee’s family remain staunch in their belief that Syed was the one who killed her, directly addressing fans of the podcast in a statement which was read out at Syed’s post-conviction hearing earlier this year.

“It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae.

“Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials – so many witnesses, so much evidence.”

They added that the reopening of the case had “reopened wounds few can imagine.”

A date for Syed’s retrial has yet to be set; however, it has been suggested that the earliest one could feasibly take place would be in 2018 or 2018.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.