The Latest: Prosecutors say Adnan Syed killed ex-girlfriend


BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on Adnan Syed’s retrial request in a murder case explored by the popular “Serial” podcast (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

Maryland prosecutors are asking a Baltimore judge not to grant a new trial for the man convicted in a murder case re-examined by the popular “Serial” podcast. They argue that Adnan Syed wasn’t convicted because of ineffective counsel or faulty evidence, but because “the evidence was overwhelming, and because he did it.”

Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah launched into his closing arguments Tuesday afternoon after four days of testimony.

Syed, now 35, is serving a life sentence after being convicted of murder in the 1999 strangling death of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

His lawyers argued that he deserves a new trial because his trial attorney did not contact an alibi witness who said she saw Syed in a public library during the time Lee was killed, and because prosecutors presented cell tower data to jurors without a cover sheet warning that information about incoming calls was unreliable.

Prosecutors said the data linked Syed to the site where Lee’s body was buried on the night she was killed.

Vignarajah acknowledged the intense media attention generated by the podcast, which attracted millions of listeners who became fascinated with the murder case.

He said “this is not a popular position, but the state’s role is to do justice.”

Vignarajah will continue his arguments after a brief lunchbreak.

12:30 p.m.

An alibi witness who was never called, cell phone data that was misrepresented and other legal failures more than justify a new trial for Adnan Syed, his defense lawyer argued Tuesday, closing an unusual hearing prompted by the popular “Serial” podcast’s extensive re-examination of the murder case.

Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah was delivering closing arguments for the state, which maintains that Syed was properly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 strangling death of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

But first, attorney Justin Brown summed up the defense case in closing arguments Monday and Tuesday, telling Judge Martin Welch that “we proved our case. We did exactly what we said we would. I believe we met our burden and that Mr. Syed deserves a new trial.”

Brown argued that cell tower data linking Syed to Lee’s burial site was misleading because it was presented to jurors without a cover sheet warning that information about incoming calls was unreliable.

Moreover, Brown said Syed’s trial lawyer was ineffective because she didn’t contact Asia McClain, now Asia Chapman, an alibi witness who said she was with Syed at a public library during the time Lee was killed.

“A mistake was made not to talk to an alibi witness who could have turned this trial around,” Brown said, calling Chapman “earnest,” ”compelling” and “extremely credible.”

Brown said, “If Mr. Syed was with Ms. McClain at the library on Jan. 12, 1999, he didn’t kill Hae Min Lee. He couldn’t have.”

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