The lawyer for Adnan Syed, whose murder case was profiled in the popular "Serial" podcast, told a judge Tuesday that a series of mistakes led to his client’s wrongful conviction in 2000.
Lawyer C. Justin Brown said the state’s case amounts to speculation and legal arguments, not real facts.
No matter how hard some try to scrub them or erase them, we find out (some facts) are indelible,” Brown said in his closing arguments. “They won’t go away.”
Both Brown and Maryland Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah gave their closing arguments in the post-conviction hearing for Syed, which has attracted national attention.
"As a result of "Serial" more information became available to us, information that we might not have otherwise gotten," said Brown. "This might have been for the first-ever kind of open-sourced case ... I had essentially thousands of investigators working for me and that produced information that we might not have had and that helped us."
Syed was convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Both were students at Woodlawn High School.
A judge agreed to re-open Syed’s case after the podcast raised questions about whether an alibi witness was ever contacted by Syed’s original defense attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, as well as the reliability of cell phone records used to place him at murder scene.
However, Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah argued that Syed's former and now deceased attorney Gutierrez didn't call McClain for a reason.
"Asia McClain wasn't a weapon for the defense, she was a potential weakness," said Vignarajah.
He added that it was a strategy to not use her as an alibi witness and there was no wrongdoing on behalf of Syed's counsel at his original trial.
"Although there are victims of ineffective assistance counsel, Mr. Syed is not one of them," Vignarajah said.
"The state has a fine lawyer, Mr. Vignarajah, and he is applying a large amount of force,” Brown said. “But at the end of the day, it doesn't fit."
The judge will release a written memorandum on whether Syed should get a new trial. He did not say when that would be.
"We proved our case. We did exactly what we said we would. We met our burden, and Mr. Syed deserves a new trial,” Brown said.