Season One: Episode 13

Adnan Is Out

It’s Baltimore, 2022. Adnan Syed has spent the last 23 years incarcerated, serving a life sentence for the murder of Hae Min Lee, a crime he says he didn’t commit. He has exhausted every legal avenue for relief, including a petition to the United States Supreme Court. But then, a prosecutor in the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office stumbled upon two handwritten notes in Adnan’s case file, and they changed everything.

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Ting Shen for The New York Times

All Episodes Fall 2014

About Season One

A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig sorted through thousands of documents, listened to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talked to everyone she could find who remembered what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee. She discovered that the trial covered up a far more complicated story than the jury – or the public – ever got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence — all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.

In the years since season one concluded, Sarah Koenig wrote updates about important developments in the case. In 2015, when the cell phone expert who testified at Adnan Syed’s trial said he no longer stood behind his testimony, she wrote an extensive update; in 2019 when Maryland’s highest court reversed a decision to give Adnan a new trial, she covered it.   

In 2016, when Adnan's attorney introduced new evidence and presented a case for why his conviction should be overturned, Serial covered what happened, day by day, in these three audio updates. And in 2022, when a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office stumbled upon two handwritten notes in Adnan’s case file, Serial released Episode 13: Adnan Is Out.

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