- Hae Min Lee’s family felt “blindsided” and “betrayed” by Maryland judge who vacated the conviction of the man once believed to be her murderer.
- Adnan Syed was allowed to walk free from a Maryland prison Monday his life sentence was vacated.
- Young Lee had “no expectation in the world that [Syed] would walk out of the courthouse,” the family’s lawyer said.
The family of Hae Min Lee — whose 1999 murder was the subject of the hit 2014 podcast “Serial” — felt “blindsided” and “betrayed” after a Maryland judge vacated Adnan Syed’s murder conviction in a hearing on Monday, the family’s lawyer, Steve Kelly, said during an interview with Insider.
“The only thing I can get out of them is this feeling of betrayal and that they were blindsided and betrayed,” Kelly said of the Lee family. “They don’t know enough to know whether he is the murderer. They know what they have been told for 20 years by the Attorney General of Maryland.”
Syed was convicted of Hae Min Lee’s — his ex-girlfriend at the time — murder in 2000 and had been serving a life sentence until earlier this week. He was 17 years old when the crime occurred and has maintained his innocence since his conviction.
The decision to vacate Syed’s conviction came after the Maryland State Attorney’s Office requested a new trial, saying they lack confidence in the original conviction.
Kelly said Lee’s relatives are feeling “shocked” at the state’s attorney’s decision to suddenly re-open the case.
“They really felt like the state’s attorney was their attorney for 20 years, even though not technically,” Kelly said. “The interests were aligned and they felt they cooperated with the state’s attorney’s office and trusted them, and now all of the sudden the state’s attorney’s office changes their mind out of the blue.”
In a statement shared with Insider, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office said it understands the “incredible turmoil, despair, and re-victimization that occurs when a conviction is overturned.”
“As administrators of the criminal justice system, our responsibility is to ensure that justice is done, meaning that the correct person or persons are held accountable for crimes in our city and we will continue to utilize all available resources to prosecute those responsible for the death of Hae Min Lee,” the statement said.
Kelly said Young Lee, Hae Min Lee’s brother, believed Syed murdered his sister until Syed’s conviction was overturned earlier this week.
Now two other suspects, whose identities are being withheld during the investigation, have been linked to Lee’s death, The Wall Street Journal reported. In March, prosecutors announced they were testing DNA evidence connected to the case, the New York Times reported at the time.
Kelly said that when Young Lee got an email from the prosecutor’s office last week saying that there would be a motion to vacate Syed’s conviction, he didn’t fully understand what was happening.
The prosecutor’s office maintained that it contacted the Lee family “over a week ago to offer counseling services and discussed the motion to vacate the conviction.”
Young Lee had “no expectation in the world that [Syed] would walk out of the courthouse,” Kelly added.
What’s most striking about Young Lee, Kelly said, is his ability to keep his sister in the back of his mind while discussing the case, always thinking about what Hae Min Lee would want.
“She wouldn’t want someone who didn’t do this to be in jail,” Kelly said.
“For more than 20 years, no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family,” Kelly said in an earlier statement to Insider. “The Lee family is deeply disappointed that [Monday’s] hearing happened so quickly and that they were denied the reasonable notice that would have permitted them to have a meaningful voice in the proceedings.”
According to Kelly, the Lee family is feeling “hopeless” and like they will never get justice for Hae Min Lee’s murder.
“They just have the feeling that this is done and that’s it,” he said.
He added that because the Lee Family is in an emotional place right now they have not discussed their next steps. They have 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision.