For years, it seemed nobody was interested in what Asia McClain had to say, despite the potentially explosive information she could contribute to a murder trial.
But with the popularity of podcast Serial bringing the controversial conviction of Adnan Syed into the spotlight, McClain (now McClain Chapman) finally had her moment in court this year – and is now releasing a book detailing her side of the story.
McClain Chapman was a classmate of Syed’s and has always maintained she was with him in their school’s branch of Baltimore Public Library at the time his ex-girlfriend, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, is thought to have been killed in January 1999.
Syed, now 35, was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. A post-conviction hearing in February, bringing new evidence in the hope of securing a new trial, lasted five days, but the judge has not yet issued a ruling.
Confessions of a Serial Alibi will be published in June and will likely cover how McClain Chapman’s recollection of seeing and speaking to Syed was apparently repeatedly ignored by his legal team at the time.
Serial highlighted how important her account could have been to the original trial, and legal expert David Irwin told the February hearing that her testimony would have been a game changer, making “an incredible difference in the outcome of the case.”
The creator of Serial, Sarah Koenig, made a follow-up miniseries during the five-day hearing and said of McClain Chapman’s testimony: “There was just like a lot of drama in the room when she was testifying […] She was very sure of herself and what she remembered.
“She came off really well for the defence.”
Serial was released in October 2014 and has since been downloaded more than 100 million times. Justin Brown from Syed’s current legal team credited the popularity of the podcast with helping uncover information that might have otherwise gone overlooked, describing it as the “first ever open-source case.”
“People were investigating this case [online] all over the country,” he said. “I had essentially thousands of investigators working for me. That produced information that we otherwise would not have had.”
At the February hearing, Lee's family released a statement saying: “We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her.”