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Hae Min Lee's Family Moves To Appeal Adnan Syed's Vacated Conviction After His Release

Murder victim Hae Min Lee's brother filed an appeal on Adnan Syed's vacated conviction, though his lawyer later clarified he doesn't want to impact Syed's release.

By Cydney Contreras
Adnan Syed’s Conviction Overturned, Judge Orders Release

Hae Min Lee's family is appealing a Maryland judge's decision to vacate Adnan Syed's murder conviction, which resulted in his subsequent release.

Attorney Steve Kelly first filed a notice of appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals office on behalf of Lee's brother, Young Lee on Sept. 28. "Young Lee filed the attached notice of appeal based on violations of his family’s right to meaningfully participate in the September 19, 2022 hearing on the motion to vacate Adnan Syed’s conviction,” Kelly told Oxygen.com in an emailed statement Sept. 29.

“The notice of appeal is the first step in seeking the Maryland Court of Special Appeals’ review of the potential violations of Maryland’s victim’s rights statutes in connection with the hearing,” he added.

Kelly later shared that his office filed a new motion in the case. “Today Hae Min Lee’s family filed a motion in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals seeking to stay all proceedings in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City pending the outcome of their appeal," Kelly said in an emailed statement to Oxygen.com Oct. 5.

RELATED: How Adnan Syed Celebrated His Freedom After More Than 20 Years Behind Bars

"On September 28th, the Lee family filed a notice of appeal," the statement continued. "The appeal seeks to remedy the victim’s rights violations that occurred when the Lee family was not provided with adequate notice as to the hearing and/or with the new evidence that caused the state to reverse its position of more than 20 years on Mr. Syed’s conviction.”

Kelly added Lee does not wish to see Syed's release from custody impacted.

"If the wrong person has been behind bars for 23 years, the Lee family and the rest of the world want to understand what new evidence has led to that conclusion," he explained. "If Mr. Syed has been wrongfully convicted for Hae Min Lee’s murder, the state of Maryland would need to take responsibility for that extraordinary miscarriage of justice and would need to do everything possible to bring the actual killer to justice. The Lee family deserves at least that much."

Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse

During the Sept. 19 hearing, Young had requested City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn delay her decision so that he could testify in person, stating that the Lees weren't given enough notice about the hearing. However, Judge Phinn said he could testify over Zoom. 

In his testimony, Young said of the hearing, "I was kind of blindsided. I always thought the state was on my side, but out of nowhere I hear that there’s a motion to vacate judgment, and I thought, honestly, I felt betrayed,” according to NBC News.

Judge Phinn ultimately vacated Syed's murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment convictions, stating that prosecutors did not properly share evidence with Syed's attorneys and possibly prevented him from having a fair case. 

Syed was released without bail immediately following the hearing. 

The Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office has 30 days to decide whether it will seek a new trial against Syed or dismiss the charges.

In response to Young's appeal, the Baltimore State Attorney's Office said in a statement to Oxygen.com, "We truly empathize with Hae Min Lee’s family, who believed they had resolution and are now being re-traumatized by the misdeeds of the prior prosecutors."

"As administrators of the criminal justice system, our responsibility is to ensure that justice is done, and the right person is held accountable," the added. "We refuse to be distracted from this fundamental obligation and will never give up in our fight for the Lee family."

Syed was serving a life sentence for the murder of Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend whose remains were found in a shallow grave in Leakin Park in 1999.

Syed's conviction was chronicled in the debut season of the podcast "Serial," hosted by Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, bringing national attention to the case.