The Latest: FBI agent says cell data in ‘Serial’ case solid
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on a hearing for a convicted murderer seeking a new trial in a case that was examined in the podcast “Serial.” (all times local):
A prosecution witness in a hearing for the convicted killer at the center of popular podcast “Serial” has testified that crucial cellphone tower data presented during the man’s original trial was accurate.
FBI Special Agent Chad Fitzgerald took the stand Friday as the first prosecution witness. He told a judge that cell site data placing Adnan Syed in a park where Hae Min Lee’s body was found is solid. Syed was convicted in 2000 of killing his high school girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison.
Syed is asking a judge for a new trial because of questions about the cell tower date and because of allegations his original lawyer was ineffective.
An attorney has told a judge that a witness who could have provided an alibi for the convicted killer at the center of the popular “Serial” podcast would have been “critical” in the man’s first trial, had she been contacted by his original defense team.
David Irwin said Friday that the failure of Adnan Syed’s attorney to call Asia McClain to testify crippled his defense.
McClain, now called Asia Chapman, testified Wednesday and Thursday in a hearing for Syed, who was convicted of killing his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000.
Syed’s attorneys are asking for a new trial on the grounds that his counsel was ineffective by failing to contact Chapman.
A librarian says there were security cameras at the library where an alibi witness said she saw murder suspect Adnan Syed during the time prosecutors said Syed’s girlfriend was being killed in a case profiled in the “Serial” podcast.
During a Friday hearing, Michelle Hamiel testified that there were security cameras at Baltimore’s Woodlawn Public Library. However, Hamiel also said the footage was erased every month. Syed was arrested roughly six weeks after Lee was killed.
An alibi witness testified earlier that she spotted Syed at the library on the day prosecutors say he killed Hae Min Lee at a different location. He was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. Today is the third day of a hearing to determine whether Syed gets a new trial.
An investigator says he located 41 possible alibi witnesses for the defendant in a murder case profiled in the podcast “Serial,” but only four told him they were contacted by the original defense team for the 2000 trial.
Sean Gordon testified Friday as a hearing continued for Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.
Gordon testified that out of 83 potential alibi witnesses, he was able to reach 41. Of those, he said, only four said they were contacted by Cristina Gutierrez, Syed’s original lawyer, and none were asked to testify.
Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah presented memos that showed members of Gutierrez’s team did, in fact, contact some witnesses on the list.
Syed is asking for a new trial, arguing that his counsel was ineffective.
As a hearing enters a third day for the convicted killer at the center of popular podcast “Serial,” the focus of testimony has shifted away from an alibi witness toward cell tower data that defense attorneys contend was misleading.
Prosecutors used cell tower data during the first trial of Adnan Syed, saying it placed him at the scene where the body of Hae Min Lee was found in 1999.
Attorneys for Syed, who was convicted of killing his high school girlfriend in 2000 and is serving a life sentence, have said the data was given to a jury without a fax cover sheet warning that it referred only to outgoing calls, and any information about incoming calls is unreliable.
Syed is seeking a new trial.