Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Prosecution, Defense Rest for Man Convicted in Killing at Center of 'Serial'

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Prosecution, Defense Rest for Man Convicted in Killing at Center of 'Serial'

Article excerpt

BALTIMORE - Both the prosecution and defense rested after four days of testimony in a hearing to determine whether a man convicted of a killing at the center of popular podcast "Serial" deserves a new trial. Adnan Syed, now 35, is asking a Baltimore judge for a new trial on the grounds that his lawyer made a critical mistake by not contacting an alibi witness who said she saw him in the public library at the same time prosecutors say his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, was killed. Syed was convicted of murder in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.

Syed's attorneys have also argued that cell tower data presented to jurors was misleading because it was missing a cover sheet warning that information about incoming calls was unreliable.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors will present their closing arguments this morning.

The alibi witness, Asia McClain, now Chapman, wrote two letters to Syed shortly after he was arrested, offering to testify that the two were together the day Lee was killed. Chapman took the stand for two days last week.

Prosecutors throughout the hearing characterized Chapman as an advocate for Syed rather than a willing participant in the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah asked Chapman during cross-examination if she knew that a friend of hers told investigators that Syed had written her a letter and asked her to retype it and send it back to the jail. Chapman said she was never asked to write to Syed, and sent the letters of her own volition.

Before adjourning Monday, defense attorney Justin Brown entered into evidence a sworn statement from that friend, Ja'uan Gordon, signed Sunday, saying he didn't know if Syed had ever written to Chapman, but said Syed had asked friends for letters attesting to his character.

"I have no knowledge of Adnan asking Asia to write anything fraudulent, or with intentions of misrepresenting anything to the court. I was not in any way suggesting that in my interview with police, he wrote.

Also Monday, a security officer called by prosecutors testified that there were no cameras in the library where Chapman said she saw Syed on Jan. 13, 1999, and that he did not recall seeing Syed that day. …

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