Judge Denies ‘Serial’ Subject Adnan Syed’s Motion for Release on Bail

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Adnan Syed

Infamous former Woodlawn High School student Adnan Syed has a new trial pending in the high-profile 1999 murder case of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. However, he won’t be getting out of prison on bail before he goes back to court, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge has ruled.

As many know, Syed was convicted in 2000 of murder Lee and burying her body. The case was unraveled by journalist Sarah Koenig in season one of her “Serial” podcast, which aired in 2014. Her digging and brilliant storytelling brought a fair share of public attention to the case.

In June, Judge Martin Welch ruled that Syed’s conviction should be overturned and that he should be given a new trial. Welch wrote in his decision that Syed’s attorney in 2000 should have cross-examined a cell phone tower expert about evidence of calls tracing him to the scene of the crime, and that that same attorney failed to contact a witness who could corroborate an account that Syed was in the school library when Lee was murdered.

Syed’s attorney, Justin Brown, filed for his client’s release on bail in October, arguing he should be eligible for a bail review with a new trial pending. Brown and his team of attorneys who signed the motion argued that Syed has already been incarcerated for more than 17 years now, has been well-behaved the entire time and doesn’t pose a flight risk or threat to the public.

In response, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion opposing his release, saying there wasn’t any new evidence in the case. “Because Syed has been charged, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder, there remains a risk of flight and a risk to public safety,” Frosh’s team also wrote at the end of their motion.

Unfortunately for Syed, Judge Welch sided with the State on this matter for a number of reasons. The main one, Brown wrote on his law firm’s blog, was that there are complications with granting Syed bail given that the State is already appealing Welch’s ruling overturning the conviction.

Other reasons from today’s ruling were that “the nature and circumstances of the offenses are the most serious in nature and there is still compelling evidence” against Syed, and that the evidence against Syed indicates he could still be a flight risk. Notably, Welch did write that he agreed Syed’s record shows he has no history of failing to appear in court and that he “poses no danger to any another person [sic.] or the community.”

Brown hasn’t returned a request for comment on Judge Welch’s ruling. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General said they don’t comment on pending litigation.

Click here to read Judge Welch’s full denial of the motion for bail.

Ethan McLeod
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