Family of Serial Murder Victim Hae Min Lee Speaks: Hearing Forcing 'Us to Relive a Nightmare We Thought Was Behind Us'
Shortly after high school student Hae Min Lee was found strangled to death and buried in a Baltimore, Maryland park in 1999, her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was charged with her murder. He was found guilty in 2000 and is serving a life sentence.
When the wildly popular Serial podcast was made about the case, Lee’s family declined to participate, and they have not commented on the many articles, spin-off podcasts and websites that have followed.
But yesterday, they broke their silence.
After the first day of a hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court where Syed’s attorneys argued he should receive a new trial, Deputy Maryland Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah read aloud the family’s words on the courthouse steps.
The family said the hearing is forcing “us to relive a nightmare we thought was behind us.”
“Our family has lived without a heart for over 17 years. And we continue to grieve every day in private.”
While Lee’s immediate family members have decided not to attend the hearing, “we are grateful to all the people who are there and will be there to support and to give Hae a voice,” the family said. “She is the true victim.
“We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her.”
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Yesterday, a high school classmate of Syed’s finally got her chance to testify that she was with him in a school library during the time prosecutors say he killed Lee.
Syed’s lawyers claim taht the classmate, Asia McClain, was never contacted by Syed’s attorneys during the time of the trial. McClain stated in an affidavit that an assistant state’s attorney discouraged her from attending Syed’s post-conviction hearings.
It was only after Serial came out in 2014 that McClain realized just how important her role in the case could be, and that she had to tell her story, she testified.
“I felt it was the right thing to do,” she told the packed courtroom, “and for for justice to be served all the information needs to be on the table in the interest of full disclosure.”
McClain will continue her testimony today as she is questioned by Vignarajah.
Vignarajah argued yesterday that Syed’s attorney at the time didn’t contact McClain because her testimony may have contradicted his statements to police, and that their decision was strategic.
“A jury convicted Mr. Syed of the premeditated murder of Hae Min Lee,” Vignarajah said. “It was established beyond a reasonable doubt that he strangled her with his bare hands, an 18-year-old girl with whom he had a relationship. That body was left to rot, it was discovered and uncovered.”
Retired Judge Martin P. Welch is presiding over the 3-day hearing. It is not known if he will make the decision for a new trial at the end of the hearing or a later date.