The story of convicted murderer Adnan Syed in the first season of Serial proved to be a turning point in podcasting history. He entered the mainstream and opened the medium to millions of Americans for the first time. Now, eight years later, Syed’s court case continues with an unexpected twist.
Baltimore prosecutors agreed Thursday to accept a motion filed by Syed’s attorney to use updated DNA testing technology to retest some of the evidence used to convict him. Syed has maintained his innocence over the years, and his attorneys are hoping to convince the judge to demand that the Baltimore City police lab retest what it gathered from the 1999 crime scene of Hae Min Lee’s murder. This includes clothing, shoes as well as hair found near Lee’s body.
“Sir. Syed’s defense attorney contacted our Sentence Review Unit regarding Mr. Syed’s case following the passage of the Juvenile Restoration Act in April 2021, which allows those convicted to crimes as minors to seek a change in sentence after serving at least 20 years in prison,” said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “During the review process for this case in In view of a possible re-sentencing, it became clear that additional forensic testing – which was not available at the time of the initial investigation and trial in this case – would be an appropriate avenue to pursue.” she said in a statement.
Syed, now 41, was Lee’s ex-boyfriend. He was convicted in 2000 of killing Lee and burying his body in a Baltimore park. He is currently serving a life sentence. During the Serial podcast, it was suggested that another man, Ronald Lee Moore, may have been the murderer.
Police in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, said in 2020 Moore’s DNA was found on towels and a bedspread in the condo where another woman was found strangled. DNA was also found on the 23-year-old’s clothing. Police said when the cold case was reopened in November 2017, they put the evidence into a database and that returned a match for Moore. He was living in Maryland at the time of Lee’s murder, but they believe he may have been in Myrtle Beach on his way to Louisiana to visit friends.
Moore died in a Louisiana jail in 2008 while being held on unrelated charges.
Syed’s attorneys have filed a series of appeals based on the argument that her now-deceased attorney violated Syed’s constitutional right to counsel since she failed to contact a witness. alibi. But in November 2019, the Supreme Court denied a motion for him to be granted a new trial.
It was Serial’s investigation of Syed’s case that prompted a re-examination of the trial and conviction. The 2014 podcast, hosted by Sarah Koenig, has been downloaded 300 million times. It was also a watershed moment for podcasters around the world, as the medium suddenly garnered widespread attention and helped spur the past five years of growth.
It also spawned a TV show. Last spring, HBO aired a four-part documentary series about Syed’s case. “The Case Against Adnan Syed” was created by documentary filmmaker Amy Berg. She described herself as a “fanatic listener” to the Serial podcast.
Serial, which was acquired by The New York Times in 2020 for $25 million, has been downloaded over 175 million times. Serial Productions was established in 2017 by Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder and Ira Glass three years after Serial was born as a side project to their work on the WBEZ Chicago radio show “This American Life”.