HBO released the trailer for its new documentary series, “The Case Against Adnan Syed” Tuesday. It will retrace what led to a Woodlawn High School student being sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee and the events since.
Syed was featured on the popular podcast “Serial” in 2014. Hosted by former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, the series brought to light unreliable cellphone data and an alibi witness never called to the stand.
When Syed filed for his case to be reviewed, a judge vacated the murder conviction in 2016.
Currently, the Maryland Court of Appeals is reviewing a decision to reopen Syed’s case.
The trailer for “The Case Against Adnan Syed” teases a four-part documentary series from HBO that will be released this spring. It has been in production since 2015, according to HBO, which promises “new discoveries as well as groundbreaking revelations” plus “exclusive access to Syed, the defense team, the Syed family, friends and teachers of both students” and Baltimore law enforcement.
“The series traces how the rush to justice and Syed’s conviction in 2000 raised more questions than answers about what happened to Hae Min Lee, underscoring the instability of memory and conflicting eyewitnesses,” according to HBO.
The trailer features Syed’s friend Rabia Chaudry, who brought his case to the host of Serial, in addition to others, such as a woman who said she may have been the last one to see him and a “piece of evidence that nobody realized existed for all these years.”
Watch the trailer:
Syed’s trial was among the first in which cell phone records were used to geo-locate someone in connection with a crime, according to The Guaridan, and the technology was far from perfect.
The jury at Syed’s 2000 trial was told by a prosecution expert that cell phone records placed Syed at the time and place of the murder, in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. The expert based his findings on information from AT&T, which had included a disclaimer that the location could not be considered reliable. Neither the expert witness nor the defense attorney mentioned the disclaimer at trial.
In addition, a former classmate of Syed and Lee at Woodlawn High School — Asia McClain — testified in 2016 that she had chatted with Syed at the time of the murder in the school’s library, and despite writing a letter to his attorney with that information, she said she never heard back, The Baltimore Sun reported. It was not until “Serial” aired and captured the curiosity of thousands of listeners that McClain said she realized “maybe it is important.”
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued an opinion on March 29, 2018, stating that Syed should be granted a new trial based on the violation of his Sixth Amendment right, specifically the part guaranteeing “the assistance of counsel” for his defense.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that Syed’s attorney did not do an adequate job in representing him by failing to contact the potential witness whose testimony would have called into question the state’s case and resulted in a different outcome by creating reasonable doubt.
A decision about whether to reopen the case may be made by August, according to The Baltimore Sun.
In the meantime, those who are interested can tune into the HBO documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” which will come out this spring, according to the trailer released Tuesday, Feb. 5. It was commissioned by HBO Documentary Films and Sky Atlantic and will be distributed internationally by NBC, according to a statement from HBO.
“The Case Against Adnan Syed” is directed by Amy Berg, whose work on “Deliver Us From Evil” resulted in an Oscar nomination.
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Image from “The Case Against Adnan Syed” trailer via YouTube/HBO.