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Relatives of Hae Min Lee, the young woman whose murder was at the center of the popular podcast “Serial,” offered a stinging rebuke Sunday to new evidence uncovered by the show.
Lee's family members, who did not speak to the podcast’s creators, weighed in as that evidence is being considered by a Maryland judge who will determine whether the man convicted of murdering Lee 16 years ago, Adnan Syed, deserves a new trial.
In a statement released by the Maryland Attorney General’s office, Lee’s relatives said that they didn’t know what the “personal motives” were of a new alibi witness, Asia Chapman, who was a schoolmate of Lee and Syed at the time of the murder.
Chapman claimed to "Serial" that she was with Syed at a library when Lee was killed on Jan. 18, 1999. In court last week, she testified that Syed’s then-lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, never contacted her or two other people who were with them at the library during the original trial.
In February 2000, Syed was convicted of strangling Lee — his ex-girlfriend — allegedly in a rage after she started dating someone new.
Gutierrez, the defense lawyer, died in 2004.
In their statement on Sunday, Lee’s relatives said that they supported the original prosecution — and that the court hearings of the last week “reopened wounds few can imagine.”
“Unlike those who learn about this case on the Internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials — so many witnesses, so much evidence,” the statement said. Using Chapman’s former surname, the statement continued, “We wish Ms. Asia McClain had watched too, because then she would not do what she is doing.”
“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,” the statement said.
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Citing an order from the judge barring Chapman from speaking to the media, her lawyer, Gary Proctor, said it appeared that prosecutors were no longer fighting the case in court.
"The releasing of this statement by the attorney general's office at a time when Ms McClain is unable to respond ... I can only assume means the prosecution has now decided to try this case in the court of public opinion, Proctor said in a statement, according to NBC affiliate WBAL.
“Ms. McClain's intentions have only ever been to say what it is she knows and how, if at all, that affects Mr. Syed's case is not for us to determine."