In the age of the podcast docu-series, the crime anthology, and reality TV, it is often hard to draw the line between fact and fiction. (OK, between fact and a compelling narrative.) You see, while these programs aren’t planting evidence or “making stuff up,” facts are presented in a specific way. In a story-driven way, and this was the case with Serial season one, a podcast that investigated the details of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee’s murder in 1999. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was put away for life for the crime. The show, which became an instant hit, has fans around the globe — and many of these fans have been pushing for a retrial. But on Monday, Lee’s family issued a statement responding to Syed’s new hearing making clear that they not only believe Syed is guilty, but also that the podcast and the new hearing “have reopened wounds few can imagine,” according to The Guardian:
The events of this past week have reopened wounds few can imagine...it remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. She stood up for what was right, regardless of popular opinion.
The family also said fans are missing the mountains of evidence that were presented at Syed's original trial:
Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet [through the podcast Serial], we sat and watched every day of both trials – [there were] so many witnesses, [and there was] so much evidence.
The retrial centers around the premise that Syed's original attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, provided an inadequate defense. Specifically in question is Gutierrez's failure to contact potential alibi witnesses, and (most presumably) Asia Chapman, then Asia McClain, a woman who claimed she was with Syed when the murder occurred, according to The Guardian.
Lee’s family addressed Chapman (McClain) in their letter, writing:
We wish Ms Asia McClain had watched [the trials] too, because then she would not do what she is doing...[w]hatever her personal motives, we forgive her, but we hope she will not use Hae’s name in public, which hurts us when we hear it from her. She did not know Hae, and because of Adnan she never will.
But here's the thing: regardless of what fans believe, conspiracy theorists believe, or anyone believes for that matter, someone died. Hae Min Lee was murdered. Fans always need to remember that and be mindful of her loved ones and sensitive to their needs.
Does that mean a man should stay in prison if he is not guilty? No, of course not. But this is a case for the U.S. legal system, not social media and people who want to play detective.
Closing arguments are scheduled to take place on Tuesday. While it is not yet known how long it will take for Judge Martin Welch to reach a decision, court personnel have stated when the judge will issue a written opinion at a later date, according to People.