Serial Alibi Witness Takes Stand for First Time

Syed's lawyer argues that original attorney was too ill
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2016 3:27 AM CST
Prison artwork created by Adnan Syed sits near family photos in the home of his mother, Shamim Syed, on Dec. 10, 2014, in Baltimore.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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(Newser) – A woman who says she saw Serial subject Adnan Syed at a library at a time when prosecutors said he was murdering his ex-girlfriend took the stand on Wednesday—16 years after he received a life sentence for the crime. Asia McClain told the Baltimore courtroom that Syed seemed "completely normal" when she saw him on Jan. 13, 1999, NBC News reports. She testified that she wrote two letters offering to help his defense but was never contacted by defense lawyer Cristina Gutierrez. McClain said she lost track of the case for years, but the Serial podcast convinced her to speak out, reports the Baltimore Sun. "In order for justice to be served, all information has to be out on the table," she told the hearing, which will determine whether Syed gets a new trial.

The Sun reports that Syed's current lawyer, Justin Brown, argued that Gutierrez, who died in 2004, was too ill to represent him properly in 2000 because of stress and health problems, including multiple sclerosis. Deputy Maryland AG Thiru Vignarajah used notes from Gutierrez's case file to counter that she was of sound mind and had decided against using McClain's testimony because it raised "warning signs and red flags" and didn't match Syed's account of his movements the day Hae Min Lee was murdered. Lee's family issued a statement saying they believe justice was done in 2000 and they are now having to "relive a nightmare we thought was behind us." The hearing concludes Friday, though a decision could take weeks or months, ABC News reports. (Read more Adnan Syed stories.)

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