Hae Min Lee was found strangled to death and buried in a Baltimore, Maryland, park in 1999
Syed’s new defense team is hoping to convince a Baltimore judge that he deserves a new trial 16 years after he was found guilty of murdering Lee, his ex-girlfriend. Testimony continues in the hearing on Monday.
“The events of this past week have reopened wounds few can imagine,” Lee’s family said in a statement on Sunday that was obtained by PEOPLE. “It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. She stood up for what was right, regardless of popular opinion.”
Lee’s family declined to participate in Serial, which documented the entire case and became an online phenomenon.
“Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials – so many witnesses, so much evidence,” Lee’s family continued. “We wish Ms. Asia McClain had watched too, because then she would not do what she is doing. Whatever her personal motives, we forgive her, but we hope she will not use Hae’s name in public, which hurts us when we hear it from her.”
McClain, an alibi witness, says she was with Syed in a library at the time prosecutors originally contended Syed killed Lee in 1999. The 34-year-old mother testified for the first time in the case this week and then withstood cross-examination on Friday.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
“For those of us who saw the trials and heard the evidence, it is more clear than ever that Adnan is guilty and that his lawyer did the best job she could have for him,” Lee’s family said. “We are grateful to the media for respecting our privacy, but we ask that everyone remember who the criminal is and who the victim is.”
They added, “Weeks like this, it is easy to forget that seventeen years ago the beautiful, blossoming song of Hae Min Lee was silenced forever by Adnan Syed.”
In addition to McClain’s alibi testimony, which Syed’s first lawyer didn’t use, the hearing has focused on reexamining the cellphone evidence used to charge Syed.
“The testimony and records that are already in evidence reveal that Syed received a tenacious and dogged defense in 1999 and 2000 by a team of some of Maryland’s best lawyers,” said the hearing prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, said in a statement. “To think there was an oops or an oversight back then, let alone a failure of constitutional dimension, is just not consistent with what we are now seeing in the defense’s file.”
Throughout the trial and in the years since, Syed has steadfastly maintained his innocence. He is currently serving a life sentence.