HBO’s new docu-series The Case Against Adnan Syed covers and revisits the 1999 murder of Asian-American Teen Hae Min Lee and subsequent arrest and conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. Will the series help finally exonerate Adnan Syed?
The docu-series follows the wildly popular S1 of the podcast Serial. Serial S1 follows the host and journalist Sarah Koenig as she investigates the 1999 murder of Min Lee. At the time of the podcast’s recording, Syed was (and currently is) serving a life sentence.
Koenig retraces the case and uncovers information which may exonerate Adnan. If exoneration is too extreme, she presents reasonable doubt over whether he is truly responsible for the crime.
In a criminal trial, all it takes is reasonable doubt for the court to set a charged person free. The podcast brought a story that was long forgotten back into the limelight.
Koenig does amazing investigative work trying to uncover the truth about what happened to Hae Min Lee.
What evidence did Serial present for Adnan?
The podcast uncovered key elements of evidence that raise suspicion over Syed’s conviction. One key piece of evidence that Serial uncovered was a witness with an alibi for Adnan.
During the trial, for reasons unknown, the defense did not present Asia McLain who could provide the court with Adnan’s whereabouts during the murder. Koenig’s work also criticized and questioned the accuracy of a key piece of evidence, cell towers which the prosecutors said placed Syed’s location at the scene of the crime.
The show also explored how the prosecution used racial elements to push their version of events. Overall the podcast shed light on Syed’s lawyer Cristina Gutierrez’s inadequate work during the trial.
Gutierrez was later disgraced as a fraud before her death.
Let me be clear: I already thought Adnan Syed was innocent. And I really don’t understand how people can still think otherwise, especially after learning about the plea deal, Kristy’s mistaken timeline, and the total lack of Adnan’s DNA. There. Is. No. Evidence. https://t.co/VoGnZaaNTS
— Rebecca Lavoie (@reblavoie) April 2, 2019
What does The Case Against Adnan Syed do differently?
The podcast’s popularity gave Syed a chance at a hearing for a new trial. The courts ruled against him since then several times.
The HBO documentary establishes the facts found by serial and investigative work since then. The docu-series also follows the proceedings of getting a new trial as the state continues to try to block Syed and his lawyer Justin Brown from obtaining one.
I've received many supportive messages as we continue to fight on behalf of #AdnanSyed. I read every one and appreciate every one. It's incredibly uplifting during an otherwise difficult time. Please don't be offended if I don't respond. (I'm a little busy right now).
— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) April 3, 2019
As a visual medium, the docu-series brings us even closer to the story of Adnan, with new developments since the podcast. By seeing the people involved, including Adnan’s family, Hae Min’s family, and the star witness Asia McClain, the story has become even more compelling.
The podcast influenced not only the public but also institutions of power like the justice system. Will the documentary be able to serve justice? Syed is currently waiting on whether the Maryland high court will reconsider refusing him a new trial.
It’s been a long time coming and so far media coverage of Syed has been on his side. Will the HBO documentary also help his chances?
Maybe Kim K can chime in after she becomes a lawyer.
— SJS (@DrSPour) April 11, 2019