Maryland’s highest court is scheduled to heard arguments Thursday in the case of Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of killing his former girlfriend and Woodlawn High School classmate Hae Min Lee, and whose case drew renewed attention in 2014 through the popular “Serial” podcast.
Here’s what you need to know:
How did we get here?
Syed was convicted in 2000 of murdering Lee, who disappeared on Jan. 13, 1999, and whose body was found almost a month later buried in the city’s Leakin Park. Syed has been serving a life sentence in a Maryland prison ever since.
Syed appealed his conviction on the grounds that his previous attorney failed to call a key alibi witness. He also questioned the reliability of cellphone evidence used to place him at the spot where Lee's body was found.
In 2016, a Baltimore judge vacated Syed’s conviction and ordered a new trial for him. The state appealed that decision, but in March of this year the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the lower court ruling.
The state appealed that decision, and in July the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to consider whether to reinstate Syed’s murder conviction.
What is at issue?
The high court will review whether Syed’s former attorney, the late M. Cristina Gutierrez, was wrong to pursue an alibi strategy without speaking to one potential witness, Asia McClain — now Asia McClain Chapman — who claimed she saw Syed at the Woodlawn library during the time that prosecutors said Lee was killed.
The Court of Special Appeals ruled that that decision violated Syed’s Sixth Amendment guarantee of effective assistance of counsel.
Attorney General Brian Frosh appealed on the grounds that the Constitution doesn’t — and shouldn’t — require lawyers to pursue every possible alibi that’s brought to them.
Where and when will the arguments be heard?
Arguments are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Court of Appeals, 261 Rowe Blvd., in Annapolis.