Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of hit true-crime podcast Serial, will not be granted a new trial after all. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Syed’s bid for a retrial on Monday, upholding an earlier decision by Maryland’s Court of Appeals.
Syed is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend, in 1999. Serial‘s first season investigated Lee’s murder and raised doubts about Syed’s guilt, though it did not firmly argue one way or the other. The massively successful podcast brought widespread public attention to the case and helped renew court proceedings.
Syed’s lawyers alleged his trial attorney failed to contact an alibi witness, who said she saw Syed at the library at the time prosecutors said the murder took place. In 2016, a Baltimore City Circuit Court granted Syed’s request for a new trial and vacated his conviction. That decision was upheld by Maryland’s second-highest court but overturned by the Court of Appeals. The higher appellate court, in a 4-3 vote, ruled that the witness’s testimony “does little more than call into question the time that the state claimed Ms. Lee was killed and does nothing to rebut the evidence establishing Mr. Syed’s motive and opportunity to kill Ms. Lee.”
The Supreme Court upheld that court’s decision without comment.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court but by no means is this the end of Adnan Syed,” defense attorney C. Justin Brown told The Associated Press. “There are other legal options and we are exploring each and every one of them.”