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Convicted Killer In 'Serial' To Ask For A New Trial In Baltimore Hearing


A hearing starts today in Baltimore that may hold special interest for public radio listeners. It's the case of convicted murderer Adnan Syed. He and the crime against his ex-girlfriend were the center of a year-long investigation by the show "This American Life" and its spinoff podcast "Serial." Andrea Seabrook has the latest twist in the story.

ANDREA SEABROOK, BYLINE: Adnan Syed was a teenager when he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Her body was found weeks after she'd gone missing in a shallow grave in a suburban Baltimore park. For more than a decade after the conviction, the case was all but ignored until this.


SARAH KOENIG: For the last year, I've spent every working day trying to figure out where a high school kid was for an hour after school one day in 1999.

SEABROOK: That's Sarah Koenig, the reporter and host of the podcast "Serial," produced by "This American Life." Koenig's show became an international sensation in its first season, the most downloaded podcast ever. And it all revolved around Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee. Syed was convicted. He's been in prison for more than 15 years. He's now 35. So it's remarkable that he's getting a hearing now. But, Koenig's investigation found glaring problems in the state's case against Syed and strange inconsistencies in his defense. She dug up new evidence, some of which will be heard in the hearings this week. Here's Syed's new defense attorney, C. Justin Brown.

C. JUSTIN BROWN: We're going to be presenting witnesses, and we're going to be presenting exhibits. And we're confident that after we have entered all the evidence that the judge is going to carefully consider it and that it's going to win Adnan Syed a new trial.

SEABROOK: There's new testimony from a witness who says she was with Syed at the time the prosecution says Lee was murdered. There are also new questions about the cellphone data the state used to locate Syed near the place where Hae Min Lee's body was found. But all this doesn't mean the hearing today and for the rest of the week will be a slam dunk for Syed. Koening herself couldn't come to a concrete conclusion by the end of her investigation. And she told "Serial's" listeners of the jury's swift decision in the original case.


KOENIG: After a six-week trial, they convicted Adnan in just two hours.

SEABROOK: But this true crime story continues to play out years after Syed's conviction, its twists and turns riveting those who follow it. For NPR News, I'm Andrea Seabrook. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrea Seabrook
Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.
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