HBO’s ‘The Case Against Adnan Syed’ brings fresh scrutiny to a 20-year-old murder case

‘The Case Against Adnan Syed’ – Wrongfully convicted?

A 1999 murder case that became the subject of a popular podcast gets renewed focus in a four-part documentary debuting this week on HBO.

In “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” premiering Sunday, March 10, Oscar-nomined documentarian Amy Berg (“Deliver Us From Evil”) reinvestigates the murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old Baltimore Country high-school student who disappeared and was found dead in a local park. She had recently ended a romance with popular athlete and classmate Adnan Syed, who was eventually convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. But he and his family maintained his innocence.

In 2014, the podcast “Serial” debuted, shedding new light on the case. Also, new evidence had come forth challenging the reliability of cellphone data linking Syed to the crime scene. In 2018, his conviction was vacated but the state of Maryland appealed. A decision on whether a retrial will go forward is expected later this year.

The documentary brings a fresh eye to the case using interviews with key players, new evidence and entries from the deceased girl’s journal, along with archival footage, family photos and documents from the case file.

“I wasn’t satisfied with the case that was presented in 1999 and the outcome after listening to ‘Serial,’ ” Berg explained to a recent gathering of journalists in Pasadena, Calif. “I felt very frustrated about that. I went into it trying to understand what actually happened and investigate the original investigation. Three and a half years later, I still feel very frustrated that the police detectives didn’t do their job in a thorough way, because we probably wouldn’t be sitting here today if there was more of an investigation done at the time.

“So I guess things have changed a lot since 1999,” she continues. “I mean they didn’t even take color photos of the autopsy. So I mean there are a lot of things that have changed, a lot of regulations that have changed in the past 20 years.  But it’s still – there are still many cases that need to be reexamined because of the injustices.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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