New evidence has emerged in the Adnan Syed case, which captivated the attention of millions after being the focus of Sarah Koenig's smash hit podcast "Serial." Syed was accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, back in 1999 when they were both students at Baltimore County’s Woodlawn High school; However, over the course of "Serial"'s twelve episodes, Koenig shed doubt on Adnan’s conviction, highlighting the lack of concrete evidence tying him to the murder.
Today, Syed's former Woodlawn High School classmate Asia McClain filed an affidavit claiming that she saw Syed in a public library at the time prosecutors claim Lee was murdered. This is not the first time McClain has come forward — she made the same claim a series of letters written back in 1999, the so-called “Asia Letters” that Koenig discussed at length during the podcast. However, for reasons that remain fuzzy, Syed’s lawyer Cristina Gutierrez (who died in 2004) did not call McClain as a witness during Adnan's original trial back in 2000.
In the affidavit, McClain said that “she came to understand [her] importance to the case" and "realized [she] needed to step forward and make [her] story known to the court system.”
“I was under the impression that there was a tremendous amount of evidence that convicted Adnan and that for whatever reason, his team was reaching out to me as a Hail Mary, so to speak,” she said in an interview with TheBlaze. “I really didn’t realize how, I guess you could say how weak the state’s case was, the information, the evidence that they had and the testimony that they had.”
McClain also claims that she didn’t testify in Syed’s post-conviction hearing in 2010 because prosecutor Kevin Urick — who recently gave a series of major interviews to "The Intercept" affirming his belief in Syed’s guilt — basically convinced her not to. As she says, Urick "discussed the evidence of the case in a manner that seemed designed to get me to think Syed was guilty and that I should not bother participating in the case, by telling what I knew about January 13, 1999.”
Urick later testified under oath that McClain told him she had only written the letters after receiving pressure from Syed’s family. McClain denies this in the affidavit, writing "I never told Urick that I recanted my story or affidavit about January 13, In addition, I did not write the March 1999 letters or the affidavit because of pressure from Syed’s family. I did not write them to please Syed’s family or to get them off my back. What actually happened is that I wrote the affidavit because I wanted to provide the truth about what I remembered. My only goal has always been to provide the truth about what I remembered.”
Urick, for his part, told TheBlaze that McClain’s claims were “absolutely false” — he says he never dissuaded McClain from testifying, and reaffirmed that she told him she only wrote the letters to appease Syed’s family.
Syed is currently in the midst of an appeal for post-conviction relief, based on the claim that he received ineffective counsel from his lawyer Cristina Gutierrez, both because Gutierrez never asked for a plea deal and because she never called on McClain to testify. Last week, the Maryland Attorney General's Office recommended that Syed’s request for appeal be denied, but it is unknown when the Court of Speical Appeals will actually rule on the case, or whether McClain’s testimony will make much of a difference.