A Full Timeline Of Adnan Syed's Case, From 1999, To Serial, To The New HBO Doc
JC News|March. 10, 2019
When Serial first aired in 2014, passionate listeners, and even just anyone with ears and access to their phone's podcast app, knew the order of events in Hae Min Lee's murder and Adnan Syed's conviction better than they knew family member's birthdays. It's been more than four years since that obsession swept the world, and a lot of true crime stories have taken up residence in our amateur detective minds. Now, viewers are about to dive back into the story with the new four-part HBO documentary, The Case Against Adnan Syed. And while the documentary will explore various aspects of the case, including information Serial listeners weren't privy to, the timeline of Adnan Syed's case remains the same. Below are the main events you need to know as you follow along with HBO's new series.
Syed & Lee, Pre-Tragedy: 1980 — 1999
October 15, 1980: Hae Min Lee is born in South Korea.
May 21, 1981: Adnan Syed is born in Baltimore, Maryland.
1992: Lee moves with her younger brother and mother to live with her grandparents in Maryland.
August 1995: Lee and Syed meet on the first day of ninth grade in biology class at Woodlawn High School, where they are part of the school's magnet program. (Syed described this first meeting in a letter to Serial host Sarah Koenig in 2013.)
July 1996-December 1996: Lee and her family move to Hayward, California, reportedly to be with her mother's fiancé.
March 1998: Syed and Lee begin dating, and he asks her to prom. (According to Serial, he asked her to prom before they were a couple, but according to her diary, they were already dating.) They have to hide their relationship from their strict parents.
April 1998: Syed and Lee go to prom, where Syed and his friend Stephanie are named Prom King and Queen.
October 30, 1998: While Syed and Lee are at homecoming, his parents arrive and make a huge scene. They do not approve of their son attending mixed-gender dances. Also this month, Lee begins working at Lenscrafters, where she meets an older man named Don.
November 1, 1998: Lee breaks up with Syed. In her note to him, it seems he didn't take it well and she called him out for being hostile and cold.
November 14, 1998: They get back together.
December 20, 1998: Lee and Syed break up again. Lee has been writing in her diary all month about her crush on Don.
December 23, 1998: Lee's car breaks down at work, and she calls Syed to come help her. He meets Don.
January 1, 1999: Don and Lee go on their first date.
January 12, 1999: Syed gets a new cell phone and calls a bunch of people on it, including Lee.
When Everything Changed: Early 1999
January 13, 1999: Stephanie's birthday, prompting Syed to go shopping for a present with her boyfriend, Jay Wilds. At 2:25 pm, Lee is last seen buying food at school. At 3:30 pm, Lee's family realizes she's missing after she fails to pick up her cousin from Kindergarten. Then the timelines get tricky. For all the detailed disputed timelines of that day, you can look at Serial 's version.
February 9, 1999: A man identified in Serial as Mr. S (due to his history of being a convicted flasher) discovers Lee's body in Leakin Park and leads police to it.
February 12, 1999: An anonymous caller tells police to look into Syed as a suspect.
February 26, 1999: After subpoenaing Syed's cell phone records, the police decide to bring in Jenn Pusateri for questioning, as she's the person called most on the day of Lee's disappearance. Pusateri eventually tells them that Wilds told her Syed killed Lee.
February 28, 1999: In his first interview with police, Wilds tells them that Syed showed him Lee's body in the trunk of her car. He leads police to her car. Police arrest Adnan.
Questions Start To Arise, Syed's Trial Begins: Late 1999
March 1 & 2, 1999: Asia McClain sends letters to Syed saying that she, her boyfriend, and their friend saw him at the library at the presumed time of Lee's murder.
September 7, 1999: Wilds signs a plea deal, admitting to helping Syed dispose of Hae's body, represented by a defense attorney that prosecutor Kevin Urick helped him acquire.
December 8, 1999: Syed's trial begins. With money raised by his community, he is represented by well-regarded defense attorney Cristina Gutierrez.
December 15, 1999: Gutierrez argues with Judge William Quarles over Syed's call records. The jurors overhear this discussion, and Gutierrez asks for a mistrial.
Syed's Second Trial: 2000
January 21 - February 25, 2000: Syed's second trial takes place. The jury delivers a guilty verdict after less than three hours. That day, Syed's friend Rabia Chaudry discovers that Gutierrez failed to follow up on Asia McClain's letter.
March 6, 2000: Gutierrez files a motion for a new trial.
April 5, 2000: Syed's family asks for Gutierrez to be dismissed as his attorney, after she fails to maintain any contact with him.
June 6, 2000: The court denies the motion for a new trial and sentences Syed to life, plus 30 years.
Syed & His Supporters Attempt To Prove His Innocence: 2002-2013
2002-2003: Syed's appeals are denied.
January 30, 2004: Gutierrez dies of a heart attack. She also had been suffering from multiple sclerosis.
May 2010: Syed's new lawyer, Justin Brown, files a petition for post-conviction relief, on the grounds that Gutierrez had been ineffective.
September 2013: Chaudry reaches out to Sarah Koenig about Syed's case.
December 2013: Judge Martin P. Welch denies the petition. The next year involves some legal back and forth with the Court of Special Appeals that goes nowhere, too, until Serial becomes involved.
Serial Begins To Give The Case New Life: 2014-2016
October 3, 2014: Serial launches.
February 2015: The Court of Special Appeals grants Syed an Application for Leave to Appeal.
June 2015: Brown files a motion to re-open the post-conviction relief petition.
November 2015: Judge Welch grants the request for a new hearing.
February 3, 2016: New evidence (as in, all the evidence Serial listeners already knew about, like the unreliable cell phone information, plus McClain's testimony) is presented in court. Lee's family releases a heartbreaking statement about it all.
June 30, 2016: Judge Welch vacates Syed's conviction, meaning he would get a new trial.
August 2016: The State of Maryland appeals Welch's ruling.
Where The Case Is Now
March 29, 2018: The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upholds Welch's ruling.
July 12, 2018: The Maryland Court of Appeals agrees to hear the State's Appeal.
November 29, 2018: The Maryland Court of Appeals hears arguments on both sides. They are expected to deliver their decision by the end August 2019, when the current term ends.
March 8, 2019: The Court of Appeals voted 4-3 not to give Syed a new trial. Brown tweeted, “We will not give up."
Now, with another documentary exploring his case, his supporters are hoping there may still be more developments ahead.