The US Supreme court on Monday rejected a new trial plea of a convicted Maryland man, Adnan Syed whose case gained popularity after new information was uncovered in the 2014 hit podcast "Serial".
In a 4-3 ruling in, 39-year-old Syed who was convicted for strangling a high school classmate, was denied a new trial as the evidence against him "was overwhelming". "We remain confident in the verdict that was delivered by the jury and is pleased that justice for Hae Min Lee has been done," Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement.
Syed was convicted in 2000 for the first-degree murder of his 17-year-old Hae Min Lee in a parking lot and burying her body in a Baltimore's Leakin Park. Prosecutors held Syed responsible for killing her after she broke off their relationship two weeks before her death.
The time of the murder
The defence counsel argued stating that his trial lawyers had failed to investigate an alibi witness and classmate Asia McClain, amounted to a violation of his right to competent legal representation. The lawyer in question Cristina Gutierrez did not investigate McClain's who said she saw Syed at a library at 2.15 pm and 2.35 pm. This countered the prosecutor's claim of Syed killing Lee at 2.35 pm on the day of the murder.
While Gutierrez was disbarred in 2001 due to complaints from a state commission that found her guilty of wrongdoings, she died in 2004 due to a heart attack.
The case gained momentum after the first season of the podcast, which broke podcast streaming service and downloads records in 2014, shed light on the inaccuracies in the court proceedings. The revealings in the podcast led to two Maryland courts statement in 2015 of reopening Syed's case.
Time a "small factor"
However, despite the international spotlight on the case, in 2018, the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected a new trial despite acknowledging that the investigation was lacking. The court stated that despite Gutierrez's handling of the case, the outcome of the trial would not have been different.
According to the court, McClain's claim regarding the time of death was seen as a "small factor" as compared to the testimony of Jay Wilds. As per the testimony given by Wilds, Syed bragged about murdering Lee and said both of them buried her body together.
Syed's legal options
Syed's defence counsel said that the recent judgement was disappointing and will be exploring other legal options for the case. "We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court but by no means is this the end of Adnan Syed," defence attorney C Justin Brown was quoted as saying to The Associated Press. "There are other legal options and we are exploring each and every one of them."
Rabia Chaudry, Syed's supporter and family friend who brought his case to the makers of the podcast on Monday said the decision "was fully expected" and the defence team are preparing to file a habeas petition in the federal court or make a second plea to the state court.
Calling the judgement as a 'technicality' she said "We were just waiting. It was just a technicality. Now it's done, so we can move forward." Describing Syed's case she said that he is aware of the public support and is not giving up."He is doing fine. He is hanging in there. He knows that none of us are basically giving up. He has a great legal team. He has a lot of public support and walking away is not an option," she said.