THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED, a four-hour documentary series directed by Academy Award® nominee Amy Berg (“Deliver Us from Evil,” “West of Memphis”). The series will explore the 1999 disappearance and murder of 18-year-old Baltimore County high school student Hae Min Lee, and the subsequent conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, a case brought to global attention by the hugely popular “Serial” podcast. Working Title TV and Instinct Productions are producing and NBCUniversal International Studios are distributing the follow-up to the case, which will debut on HBO in the U.S. and on Sky Atlantic in Europe.
In production since 2015, THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED closely re-examines the events leading up to Hae Min Lee’s disappearance, from high school romance, forbidden love and cultural conflict, to the aftermath of her disappearance, the original police investigation and the present day, when Syed awaits a new trial. Presenting new discoveries, as well as groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case, and featuring exclusive access to Syed, the defense team, the Syed family, friends and teachers of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed, and members of City of Baltimore law enforcement, the series traces how the rush to justice and Syed’s conviction in 2000 raised more questions than answers about what happened to Hae Min Lee, underscoring the instability of memory and conflicting eyewitnesses.
In June 2016, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Martin P. Welch vacated Adnan Syed’s conviction and granted him a new trial after new evidence challenged the reliability of cell phone data linking Syed to the crime scene, and a long-awaited alibi witness finally had her day in court. The State of Maryland appealed the lower court judge’s ruling, but on March 29, 2018, the Court of Special Appeals also ruled to vacate Syed’s conviction and granted him the retrial he has been waiting for.
Part 1: “Forbidden Love”
Debut date: SUNDAY, MARCH 10 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Family and friends of Adnan Syed, who is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, recall their blossoming high-school romance, their emotional breakup, Lee’s mysterious disappearance and the discovery of her body, and the events that led to Syed’s arrest. After the podcast phenomenon “Serial” resurrects the cold case for millions, Syed’s family prepares for his appeal in Feb. 2016, and a chance to discover the truth after nearly 20 years.
Part 2: “In Between the Truth”
Debut date: SUNDAY, MARCH 17 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
As Syed’s appeal for a new trial gets underway, supporters look back at the 1999 confession of his friend, Jay Wilds, who claimed he helped Syed bury Lee’s body. With questions remaining regarding the police’s timeline of events, acquaintance Asia McClain becomes a key figure in providing a possible alibi for him. While private investigators consult experts in hopes of recreating circumstances surrounding evidence in the case, the veracity of Wilds’ testimony is called into question years later.
Part 3: ” ‘Justice Is Arbitrary’ ”
Debut date: SUNDAY, MARCH 24 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
With Syed’s 2016 post-conviction hearing for appeal drawing to a close, figures in the case reflect on issues raised by the original trial, including misleading cellphone records and cell tower data, questionable interviews and gaps in information related to Jay Wilds’ involvement. The politicized culture in which the trial took place reveals a Korean community uniting to demand a conviction from a city they felt had systematically overlooked them, and a Pakistani-Muslim community that felt Adnan’s religion and ethnicity were on trial. Memories of events are questioned and the impact of the podcast “Serial” on those involved in the story is explored. Attorney and advocate Susan Simpson, along with others, are enlisted to further probe lingering questions around the state’s case against Syed.