Adnan Syed: What This Week's Hearing Actually Means
The Debrief: What's the deal with the hearing?
If you followed the podcast Serial, just like millions of other people, you'll probably have been keeping up to date with what's been going on with the case after the podcast ended almost a year ago. Now, there's a further update.
To recap: Adnan Syed is currently serving life in a Maryland prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, on January 13th, 1999. Syed has always maintained his innocence in the case.
The hearing for the case to be opened and a re-trial granted, began yesterday and is due to last until Friday 5th February.
So far Asia McClain (now Chapman) has testified that she saw Syed in the library on the afternoon of January 13th, 1999 (which is when the state argued that Syed murdered Hae Min Lee). According to the Guardian, she said 'Shortly after 2.15, I was sitting there waiting for my ride and [Adnan] walked in and I was so glad to see someone I knew' and that they spoke for 15-20 minutes. This places Syed in the library, during the time period which the state argued Hae had been killed.
She also told the court room how she had written to Adnan with ways to contact her so she could testify as his alibi, but his defence team never contacted her. This, the defence argue, is proof of ineffective council by Syed's then-lawyer, Christina Gutierrez, who has since passed away, and enough reason for a retrial.
On top of this, Asia said that she reached out to Kevin Urick (then-prosecutor) after Justin Brown (Adnan's current lawyer) contacted her in 2012 who she said told her 'Oh he killed that girl' so she 'didn't see the need to get involved when obviously he was guilty'. She later found out that Urick's testimony during that post-conviction hearing, had misconstrued a conversation she'd had with him and he claimed that she had recanted her statement. 'I learned that he said he had conversation with me and I told him everything I said was not true. All of it was news to me.' She also produced notes that showed their conversation lasted more than 30 minutes, when Urick testified that it had been brief.
Deputy Maryland Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah has said that Syed received sufficient representation during his trial and that not following up on Asia's account was strategic, The Baltimore Sun has reported. 'Mr Syed was convicted on the basis of overwhelming evidence... Mr Syed was convicted because he did it, and the state proved it.'
Vignarajah's cross examination of Asia by is expected to continue today.
The defense are also expected to bring up the unreliability of the mobile phone data which the prosecution almost entirely built their case on because it supposedly placed Syed at the burial site, and have a mobile phone expert testify to this. In August, Syed's lawyer Justin Brown, filed a motion that argued that that because AT&T, the phone company who provided the original data, noted on the cover sheet of the fax that they sent to prosectuors that incoming calls were not reliable for establishing location.
This is something that the prosecutor's expert witness on mobile technology was not informed of and, as reported in The Baltimore Sun, the expert has since said in an afiavit obtained by Brown that he 'would have wanted to know about the disclaimer on the fax cover sheet and it could have changed his testimony.'
Judge Martin Welch granted the hearing in November, saying that allowing Syed 'to raise the issue of cell tower location reliability and supplement the record with relevant materials would be in the interests of justice.' It's unknown whether Judge Welch will give his ruling at the end of the hearing or at a later date.
Sarah Koenig is attending the hearing and Serial are covering the three day hearing in a series of podcasts.
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