ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s highest courtroom denied a brand new trial Friday for a person whose homicide conviction was chronicled within the hit podcast Serial.
In a Four-Three opinion, the Courtroom of Appeals agreed with a decrease courtroom that Adnan Syed’s authorized counsel was poor in failing to analyze an alibi witness, but it surely disagreed that the deficiency prejudiced the case. The courtroom mentioned Syed waived his ineffective counsel declare.
The courtroom reversed a Courtroom of Particular Appeals’ judgment, sending the case again to that courtroom with instructions to reverse a Baltimore Circuit Courtroom judgment granting a brand new trial.
Syed is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in 2000 of strangling 17-year-old Hae Min Lee and burying her physique in a Baltimore park. Greater than a decade later, the favored Serial podcast introduced Syed’s case to hundreds of thousands of listeners with its debut 2014 season. The present revealed little-known proof and attracted hundreds of thousands of listeners, shattering podcast-streaming and downloading data.
WATCH: Adnan Syed again in courtroom as attorneys push for brand new trial
In 2016, a decrease courtroom ordered a retrial for Syed on grounds that his lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, didn’t contact an alibi witness and offered ineffective counsel. The state appealed. The particular appeals courtroom upheld the decrease courtroom’s ruling final yr and the state appealed that call, too.
Within the majority opinion, Courtroom of Appeals Choose Clayton Greene concluded “there may be not a major or substantial chance that the decision would have been completely different,” if Syed’s lawyer had offered the alibi witness, Asia McClain, who mentioned she noticed Syed at a public library in Woodlawn, Maryland, across the time the state contended Syed killed Lee on Jan. 13, 1999.
READ MORE: Adnan Syed, central determine in ‘Serial’ podcast, to argue for brand new trial
“Ms. McClain would have been an alibi witness who contradicted the defendant’s personal statements, which had been themselves already internally inconsistent; thus Ms. McClain’s proffered testimony might have additional undermined Mr. Syed’s credibility,” the courtroom wrote.
The appeals courtroom discovered that McClain’s account targeted on “a slim window of time within the afternoon” of the day Lee disappeared. It mentioned her testimony wouldn’t have rebutted the state’s proof about Syed’s actions that night, and at greatest “would have highlighted Mr. Syed’s failure to account exactly for his whereabouts after college” that day.
Choose Michele Hotten wrote individually with Chief Choose Mary Ellen Barbera and Choose Sally Adkins that she would have ordered a brand new trial. Hotten agreed with the bulk’s conclusion that Syed’s trial counsel’s failure to analyze McClain as a possible alibi witness constituted poor efficiency, however she wrote that she believed the deficiency “was prejudicial towards Mr. Syed.”
Syed’s lawyer Justin Brown mentioned in a press release that they’re “devastated” by the choice “however we won’t quit on Adnan Syed.”
“Our legal justice system is desperately in want of reform. The obstacles to getting a brand new trial are just too nice,” Brown mentioned. “There was a reputable alibi witness who was with Adnan on the exact time of the homicide and now the Courtroom of Appeals has mentioned that witness wouldn’t have affected the end result of the continuing. We predict simply the alternative is true. From the angle of the defendant, there is no such thing as a stronger proof than an alibi witness.”
Legal professional Basic Brian Frosh mentioned in a press release that “we’re happy with the Courtroom’s determination.”
“Justice was completed for Hae Min Lee and her household,” Frosh mentioned.
Thiru Vignarajah , a particular assistant lawyer common who labored on the case, mentioned the state all the time mentioned the conviction was “simply and supported by overwhelming proof.”
“This has been an arduous course of for Hae Min Lee’s household, and we’re hopeful the choice lastly brings them a measure of consolation and closure,” Vignarajah mentioned.