Attorney C. Justin Brown announced his next move Friday after Maryland’s highest court declined to reconsider its decision refusing Syed a new trial.
“My heart goes out to my client, who I believe was wrongfully convicted. We will keep fighting for him,” Brown said in a statement. “I hope someday we can fix our broken criminal justice system. Today is not that day.”
The Maryland Court of Appeals denied Brown’s request for reconsideration in a brief order Friday.
The court had decided last month that Syed should not receive a new trial for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Brown asked the judges last week to reconsider, arguing their decision puts them at odds with courts around the country.
Syed had appealed his conviction on grounds that his previous attorney failed to call a key alibi witness. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals accepted the argument. Last year, the judges ordered his conviction be thrown out.
But prosecutors appealed to Maryland’s highest court. That court reinstated his conviction and Friday’s order affirms that decision. The seven-judge panel rarely grants reconsideration.
Many questions have been raised about Lee’s murder. The case attracted the attention of millions of people with the podcast “Serial.” It was revisited last month in the HBO documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”
The director, Amy Berg, wrote on Twitter last week that the court’s refusal has weighed on the famous prisoner.
“Haven’t heard him so down in 3.5 yrs. He wanted the new trial more than anyone,” she wrote. “Hope there will be some developments in #TheCaseAgainstAdnanSyed 4 the sake of clarity. This is our justice system at work.”
Attorneys in more than 7,000 cases petition the Supreme Court each year, but justices agree to take up only about 2 percent of cases.
Syed was convicted 19 years ago of killing his former girlfriend and Woodlawn High School classmate and has been serving a life sentence.
Lee was a Woodlawn senior when she was found strangled to death and buried in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. Detectives pursued Syed after an anonymous tip and eventually charged him with killing her. Prosecutors said the then-17-year-old had murdered her out of jealousy after finding she was dating someone else. No physical evidence linked Syed to the crime.
He had been convicted after a witness, Jay Wilds, said he helped Syed bury her body. Wilds’ testimony has been widely questioned over the years. Most recently, the documentary filmmakers say Wilds spoke to them and offered yet another account of the crime — one different from what he told police.
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office had argued against a new trial for Syed. A spokeswoman for the office declined to comment on Friday’s order.