Nearly four months after being granted a new trial for the 1999 murder of his high school girlfriend, the subject of the first season of the Serial podcast now wants to get out of prison after nearly two decades.
“Syed has now served more than 17 years in prison based on an unconstitutional conviction for a crime he did not commit,” said his lawyers today in a motion for release pending appeal filed in Maryland state court (read it here). “He has no history of violence other than the State’s allegations in this case, and if released he would pose no danger to the community,” the bail seeking paperwork adds, noting evidence for Syed’s initial conviction has been deeply discredited in the subsequent years. “He is also not a flight risk; it makes no sense that he would run from the case he has spent more than half his life trying to disprove.”
The Peabody Award winning first season of Serial highlighted the circumstances of Syed’s case and in the process revealed previously unexplored evidence from his 200 trial that raised questions about his life sentence conviction and guilt in the killing of Hae Min Lee. The first season of Serial was downloaded close to a 100 million times since its debut on October 13, 2014.
“Syed’s supporters are so confident in him that several are willing to pledge their real property to ensure that he will not flee and that he will abide by all terms of pretrial release,” today’s motion asserts. The Maryland Attorney General’s office had no comment on the motion on Monday, saying they had not seen it yet.
Serial spinoff Undisclosed uncovered a fax cover sheet questioning the reliability of vital cell-phone tower evidence that was used to identify where Syed was when the murder occurred. Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch said on June 30 this year that such evidence convinced him to vacate Syed’s murder conviction and order a new trial.
Season 2 of the This American Life spinoff premiered on December 10, 2015 and focused on Bowe Bergdahl, the American solider who was captured by the Taliban, released after over 5-years and later slapped with desertion charges. Season 2 concluded on March 31 this year.
A Serial TV series is in development at Fox 21 TV Studios with the multi-tasking Christopher Miller and Phil Lord putting it together. Serial host Sarah Koenig is executive producing the TV project with Lord and Miller as well as Julie Snyder Alissa Shipp, Ira Glass and Seth Cohen.