Serial Subject's New Hearing Rests on 2 Issues

Judge will decide if Adnan Syed should get a new trial
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2016 11:23 AM CST
Serial Subject's New Hearing Rests on 2 Issues
Adnan Syed enters Courthouse East in Baltimore or Feb. 3, 2016.   (Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Serial subject Adnan Syed will soon know whether he'll be granted a new trial in the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Syed, serving a life sentence for the crime, appeared in court Wednesday for the start of a three-day hearing to review new evidence, including documents regarding the reliability of the cellphone tower technology used to place Syed at the spot Lee's body was buried, reports the Baltimore Sun; Serial producer Sarah Koenig was also in attendance. An expert at Syed's 2000 trial testified that incoming call data placed Syed in Baltimore's Leakin Park on the night of Lee's death, per USA Today. However, Syed attorney Justin Brown argues the data should never have been accepted because AT&T warned incoming calls weren't reliable for determining location.

Court documents reveal the state will call experts who believe the cellphone evidence is in fact reliable, reports ABC News. But the judge's decision also rests on an affidavit from Asia McClain, a former classmate of Syed's who says she saw him at a school library around the time Lee was strangled. Brown argues Syed's trial lawyer violated his right to due process when she failed to contact the alibi witness; she was disbarred a year later. "It's our position that the alibi issue all by itself is an issue strong enough to win a reversal of Adnan's conviction," Brown tells the Guardian. "But also the cell tower evidence even by itself is also strong enough to merit his sentence being vacated." The judge could issue an oral ruling Friday, but a written ruling is more likely and could take weeks or even months. (Read more Serial stories.)

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