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HBO to give Serial’s Adnan Syed the documentary treatment

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The series claims to have uncovered previously undiscovered evidence that could challenge the prosecution’s case. The documentary will also cross-examine witnesses with contradictory eyewitness accounts, as well as feature interviews with Syed, his family and former teachers.

Syed was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Lee, his high school girlfriend, after her body was found in a shallow grave. She was last seen driving away from school on January 13, 1999.

Adnan Syed's controversial trial will soon be the subject of a four-part HBO documentary series.

Adnan Syed’s controversial trial will soon be the subject of a four-part HBO documentary series. Credit:Serial

The now 38-year-old Syed was granted a new trial last year (four years after Serial was first released). A Maryland appeals court found he had received ineffective legal counsel after his original lawyer – who died in 2004 – did not call a crucial witness to testify before the court.

The panel of judges wrote that if this witness’s testimony was to be upheld in court, it would make it “impossible” for Syed to have murdered his ex-girlfriend. One of Syed’s friends, Asia McClain, claims she saw him at a public library around the time prosecutors allege Lee was strangled.

The former high school football player is serving a life sentence in prison but has always maintained his innocence. Lee’s family have said they are unhappy with any retrial and believe “justice was done” when Syed was convicted in 2000.

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Maryland prosecutors have repeatedly fought to maintain Syed’s murder conviction, arguing he received adequate legal representation. The matter is currently before Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals, meaning the earliest Syed could receive a retrial is later this year.

HBO says the series will debut in autumn. Given the documentary is an in-house production, it will then air on Foxtel for Australian viewers later this year.

Serial’s first season, which consisted of 12 episodes, was downloaded more than 170 million times.

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