For the alleged murder of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, 41-year-old Syed was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment. He was given a life sentence in 2000.
His case gained national attention in 2014 after it was featured on Serial. That led to a retrial and the eventual overturning of his conviction last year.
However, on Tuesday, the Appellate Court of Maryland reinstated his sentence after ruling in favor of Lee’s brother, Young Lee. He argued that his right to attend the trial in person had been violated, the New York Times reported.
Young Lee argued that he had not been given sufficient notice of Syed’s retrial and had been deprived of his right to attend in person and participate meaningfully. He had only attended virtually via Zoom. Ruling 2-1 in Young Lee’s favor, the court called for a new hearing — one he would be able to attend in person. One of Young Lee’s lawyers, David Sanford, praised the decision.
“We are equally pleased that the Appellate Court is directing the lower court to conduct a transparent hearing where the evidence will be presented in open court and the court’s decision will be based on evidence for the world to see,” he said in a statement obtained by the outlet.
Syed’s lawyer, Erica J. Suter, denounced the ruling and said she plans to appeal the decision.
“There is no basis for re-traumatizing Adnan by returning him to the status of a convicted felon. For the time being, Adnan remains a free man,“ she said. “Ensuring justice for Hae Min Lee does not require injustice for Adnan.”
Syed will not have to return to prison immediately — the appeals court issued a 60-day stay of its ruling to allow for the prosecution and defense to prepare their next moves.