Adnan Syed spoke Thursday for the first time since his murder conviction was overturned last year, as an appeals court in Maryland weighed a possible redo of the hearing that led to his release.
Syed spent more than two decades in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, before he was exonerated.
Now, Lee’s family has asked a Maryland appeals court to reinstate his murder conviction and hold a new hearing on whether it should be vacated.
“We definitely understand Hae’s family has suffered so much, and they continue to suffer,” Syed said Thursday outside the courtroom. “And it’s just that we suffer too. And we hope that the court today just takes notice of that.”
In a brief, lawyers for Lee’s brother, who lives on the West coast, argued he was given less than one business day’s notice of the September hearing that triggered Syed’s release from prison. They added that prosecutors did not provide enough detail for him to understand or fight the evidence supporting their bid to vacate the conviction.
“We take no position as to whether or not Adnan Syed is guilty or innocent,” said David Sanford, the Lee family’s attorney. “What we do take a position on is trying to substantiate the rights of the victim and the victim’s family here.”
It’s not clear when a decision will be made.
Syed was 17 when he was arrested. His case gained international attention after the 2014 hit podcast “Serial” raised questions.
The 41-year-old was released last September after an investigation found evidence that could have cleared him was withheld from the defense, including two other potential suspects.
“They should dismiss it because there’s no criminal case anymore,” said Erica Suter, Syed’s attorney.
“I think that he and his family and I … are afraid of the possibility that he could be returned to prison,” Suter said.