Supreme Court rejects bid for new trial in murder case featured in 'Serial' podcast

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place a Maryland court ruling denying a new trial in a murder case whose outcome was called into question after it was featured on the popular crime podcast, "Serial."

The justices did not comment in upholding the 4-3 ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals that had been challenged by Adan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of killing 17-year-old Hae Min Lee and burying her body in a Baltimore park

Syed is serving a life sentence for in the murder of Lee, whom he once dated. Prosecutors said during his trial that Syed killed her after she broke off their relationship. Syed's lawyers argued his previous counsel failed to investigate the story of an alibi witness in his first trial, violating his right to competent representation.


Adnan Syed enters a Baltimore courthouse prior to a 2016 hearing in his case. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Adnan Syed enters a Baltimore courthouse prior to a 2016 hearing in his case. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

"We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court but by no means is this the end of Adnan Syed,” defense attorney C. Justin Brown told The Associated Press. “There are other legal options and we are exploring each and every one of them.”

In a statement, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said his office remains "confident in the verdict that was delivered by the jury and are pleased that justice for Hae Min Lee has been done."

Syed's case was brought to the attention of millions when true-crime podcast "Serial" dedicated its entire first season to the slaying in 2014. The show shattered podcast-streaming and downloading records, shining a spotlight that led to renewed court proceedings.


Two Maryland courts previously ruled in favor of a new trial for Syed, whose attorneys say his first lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez failed to contact a woman who claimed she saw him at a library at the time of the slaying. Gutierrez has since died.

Last year, the Maryland Court of Appeals denied Syed a new trial, saying there was little chance the outcome of the trial would have changed even if Gutierrez had contacted the witness.


Rabia Chaudry, an attorney and friend of Syed’s family who first brought his case to the attention of National Public Radio's “This American Life,” which created the podcast, said she expected the high court's decision, calling it a "technicality."

"Now it’s done, so we can move forward,” she said. “He is doing fine. He is hanging in there. He knows that none of us are basically giving up. He has a great legal team. He has a lot of public support and walking away is not an option.”

Chaudary added Syed's defense team has been preparing to file either a habeas petition in federal court or go back to the state court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.