The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and Adnan Syed, whose case became nationally known in the “Serial” podcast that ran in 2014, have agreed to request “additional forensic testing,” including enhanced DNA tests, in the case, the office announced.
Syed is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment in February 2000 for the slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The pair were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County in January 1999 when she disappeared. Her strangled body was discovered in a city forest three weeks later. Syed, 40, has been appealing his convictions over the years.
Syed’s legal team reached out to State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s office after Maryland passed a law in April allowing people who were convicted as juveniles to request a modified sentence after they’ve served at least 20 years in prison, Mosby said in a Thursday statement on Twitter.
“In the process of reviewing this case for a possible resentencing, it became clear that additional forensic testing - which was not available at the time of the original investigation and trial in this case - would be an appropriate avenue to pursue,” Mosby said, adding the case is now in “pending investigation.”
A joint motion for post-conviction DNA testing that was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court said that since the crime occurred, over two decades ago, “DNA testing has changed and improved drastically.”
“Ms. Lee’s clothing, shoes, and certain other evidence recovered from the scene have not been subject to DNA testing,” the motion said. “(Syed) seeks to use the most advanced DNA testing methodologies that are currently available to analyze the biological evidence collected from the scene in an effort to exculpate him.”
“The State joins in the request that the court order DNA testing on all pieces of the victim’s clothing, shoes, recovered hairs, and other evidence submitted,” it added.
The Baltimore Police Department will have 15 days to get the evidence to a forensic crime lab in California for testing, according to the motion.
Rabia Chaudry, a public advocate for Syed, said she was “very grateful” for the developments in the case, writing on Twitter, “We are closer than ever to learning who killed Hae Min Lee and exonerating Adnan.”
In the 2019 HBO docuseries “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” an attorney for Syed said his client’s DNA was not found on any of the 12 samples retrieved from the victim’s body and car. That testing was not part of the official investigation by authorities.
HBO, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.