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Md. Attorney General files appeal to Adnan Syed retrial

Posted at 7:28 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 19:28:23-04

Since his murder conviction in 2000 for killing ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, Adnan Syed has maintained his innocence.  At the end of June, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled the 35-year-old was eligible for a new trial.  Monday, the Maryland Attorney General's office filed a formal appeal.

In 1999, Lee's body was discovered half buried in Leakin Park a month after she went missing. Syed was arrested for the slaying, and at the murder trial, cell phone tower evidence linked the teen's phone to the area where lee's body was ditched. He was sentenced to life in prison.

In 2014, the case gained worldwide attention after being featured on the "Serial" podcast.  An offshoot podcast called "Undisclosed" raised questions about the reliability of the cell tower records used to convict Syed.
           
At the original trial, an instruction listed on fax cover sheets came into question.  Experts offered conflicting views about what it meant, and Syed's attorney failed to cross examine the State's witness.  That "ineffective assistance" was the reason Syed's conviction was overturned this year.

Now, the State is fighting back.  The 45-page notice of appeal was formally filed this week.

 

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The Attorney General's office says vacating Syed's conviction based on the cell tower data was wrong, writing "...there is no consensus among experts in the forensic community that Syed's interpretation of the fax cover sheet is valid."
           
It goes on to say that post-conviction hearings can't be held when there has been "...no new evidence, no change in law, no material link to the original justification for remand, and no reason why the claim could not have been raised at numerous prior proceedings..."
           
If the court doesn't agree with those arguments, the State says Syed should still be denied a new trial since he "...was convicted because the prosecution presented to a jury of his peers overwhelming evidence of him strangling and burying in a shallow grave his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee."
           
In the appeal documents, the State also argues the judge abused his power to even allow arguments about the cell phone evidence at the post-conviction hearing.  Writing the point was to get testimony from alibi witness Asia McClain.  It says by allowing the cell phone data, the court violated the "Interests of Justice" standard that is required.

Syed is still behind bars, charged with murder.  The ruling for a new trial will be on hold while this appeal goes through the system.
           
ABC2 News reached out to Syed's family, but has not heard back. 

Syed’s Attorney released this statement saying "We think Judge Welch reached the correct decision in granting Syed a new trial, we will respond to the State's arguments at the appropriate time."