An alibi witness who was never called, cell phone data that was misrepresented and other legal failures more than justify a new trial for Adnan Syed, his defense lawyer argued Tuesday, closing an unusual hearing prompted by the popular "Serial'' podcast's extensive re-examination of the murder case.
Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah was delivering closing arguments for the state, which maintains that Syed was properly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 strangling death of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
But first, attorney Justin Brown summed up the defense case in closing arguments Monday and Tuesday, telling Judge Martin Welch that "we proved our case. We did exactly what we said we would. I believe we met our burden and that Mr. Syed deserves a new trial.''
Brown argued that cell tower data linking Syed to Lee's burial site was misleading because it was presented to jurors without a cover sheet warning that information about incoming calls was unreliable.
Moreover, Brown said Syed's trial lawyer was ineffective because she didn't contact Asia McClain, now Asia Chapman, an alibi witness who said she was with Syed at a public library during the time Lee was killed.
"A mistake was made not to talk to an alibi witness who could have turned this trial around,'' Brown said, calling Chapman "earnest,'' "compelling'' and "extremely credible.''
Brown said, "If Mr. Syed was with Ms. McClain at the library on Jan. 12, 1999, he didn't kill Hae Min Lee. He couldn't have.''