Adnan vs. Baltimore: Killing in Self-Defense

Paper Type:  Case study
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1389 Words
Date:  2022-04-04

The Facts On January the 13th 1999, eighteen-year-old Hae Min Lee started off her day by doing routine activities she normally does on a daily basis, waking up early and preparing herself to go to school. Hae Min Lee was a student at Woodlawn Senior High School and lived at 7300 Block of Rock Ridge with her family members. On the same day, Hae Min Lee was nowhere to be seen after classes ended for the day at around 3 pm. Lee was expected to pick up her niece after school aged 6 years and later on go to work her shift, however, she did not manage to do either.

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The unusual activities of Hae Min Lee prompted her family members to call the police officers and file a missing persons report since no one knew of her whereabouts after school. The first officers who arrived at the family residence took statements from the family members who were present at the time in order to gather as much information as they could possibly get at the earlier stage when the memories are fresh. Lee's brother was the first one to give his statement telling the officers that he realized something was off when Lee did not pick up her two cousins after school. He was not aware of any commitments that she had after school that would make her forget to pick up her cousins.

Lee's grandmother told the police that she last saw Lee in the, morning at around 0800 hours when she was driving off to school in her mother's car, a 1998 Nissan Sentra. The next stop for the police officers was to go to the venue where she was last seen, Woodlawn Senior High School. They took statements of Lee's friends who were close to herMs.Pittman andMr. Syed. They confirmed that Hae Min Lee was indeed in school the whole day and had even made plans that after school they would go home together in Lee's car. Mr.Syed did not find Lee at the agreed meeting place and assumed that she had left since he was running late.

The Possible Crimes Committed

The accused person Adnan Syed is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping of Ms. Hae Min Lee. Syed's co-accused Jay Wilds is accused of aiding and abetting a crime. The state of Maryland has homicide laws that are broken down into three levels, in the order depending on how serious the nature of the crime is. Homicide is classified into first degree, murder in the second degree and voluntary manslaughter. For a person to be charged with first-degree murder under Section 2 - 201, there are circumstances that have to be looked at, for instance, the mental state of the accused has to be established whether the murder was premeditated, intentional and deliberate. The act of murder has to be committed by use of poison or the perpetrator should be lying in wait for the victim so as to commit the murder.

A crime can also be classified as first-degree murder when the perpetrator is caught in the process of committing another felony crime alongside murder. There are examples of such crimes include rape, kidnapping, carjacking, sodomy, first-degree arson, burglary (except fourth degree), mayhem, sexual offense of any kind in the first or second degree, escaping from a correctional facility (prison break) and violation of any kind concerning the destruction of devices. Section 2 - 201 provides for the penalties in the event a person is found guilty of first-degree murder, which is life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Murder in the second degree according to Section 2 - 204, is considered as murder that has not satisfied the criteria for murder in the first degree and will also carry different penalties. An example is if a person in an intentional and deliberate manner kills another person but in the process did not have premeditation; it qualifies as second-degree murder. If a person is found guilty, the penalty is imprisonment up to 30 years. Attempted murder also carries heavy penalties such as life in prison and imprisonment up to 30 years under section 2 - 205, 206.

According to section 3-502 states that kidnapping is prohibited, a person may not, by force or fraud, carry or cause a person to be carried in or outside the state with the intent to have the person carried or concealed in or outside the state. The penalty for a person found guilty of this felony crime will be convicted of a prison term not exceeding 30 years. There are three types of kidnapping; family kidnapping, acquaintance kidnapping and stranger kidnapping. Family kidnapping has the largest percentage (43) happens to children below 6 years old and mainly done by parents of the child.

Acquaintance kidnapping is done by juvenile perpetrators associated with other crimes such as physical and sexual assaults that occur in homes and residences. The main victims are teenage and females with many reported cases of injuries. Stranger kidnapping happens to females more than males, could be school age children and teenagers. It usually occurs in the outdoor locations and the perpetrators use force and are usually armed with guns. In this case, the defendant Adnan Syed will not have defenses available to him for the charges of kidnapping because it is a secondary charge after the first-degree murder.

Possible Defenses

The defendant, in any case, is informed that he or she enjoys certain rights when it comes to the trial. These rights of an accused person include the right to have a trial. This occurs especially when the accused believes that he or she has been wrongfully accused and stands a good chance of getting acquitted or faces a reduced penalty compared to entering a guilty plea. The other right is the accused is deemed to be innocent until proven guilty by the court so as to remove prejudice and bring fairness. The accused person has the right to have an attorney during the trial and if one cannot afford to hire an attorney, the state will provide free of charge for the case.

The other right an accused person enjoys is not the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination and the jury nor would the court hold it against the accused. Another important right the accused person enjoys is the right to appeal the court's decision to the court of appeal. The reasons for this are that at the time of conviction, the accused was under the age of 18 years or that the court had no jurisdiction to preside over the case. Secondly, if the sentence rendered by the court was an illegal one, if the accused believes that he or she did not receive adequate assistance from his or her attorney. The final reason is if the accused was threatened into entering a plea against their will. These same rights are afforded to the participants involved in the crime either by aiding and abetting. The reason for this is because the charges of the principal offender are extended to the participants but will carry different penalties, more lenient compared to the principal offender.

The accused, Adnan Syed has defenses available in this homicide case including justifiable homicide, reasonable mistake and inability to intentionally kill. As Leverick (2006) explains, justifiable homicide is murders excused by law such as perfect self-defense where the defendant believed that his or her life is in danger and that was the only way to evade the impending danger. Under this defense, Adnan Syed must prove that the force exceeded was equal to the threat faced by the aggressor. Others that fall under justifiable defense are the defense of property, duress, imperfect defense and crime prevention.

The reasonable mistake means that the defendant had mistaken facts or through entrapment, lacks the mental state and knowledge to kill. The inability to intentionally kill reduces the sentences to voluntary and involuntary manslaughter but not excuse the homicide. Adnan Syed could apply this defense under the following grounds insanity, diminished capacity, intoxication, and unconsciousness. Mr. Adnan Syed could use the defense of diminished capacity since it is the only viable option for his case. It is described as the provocation that comes after undergoing a stressful situation (Leverick, 2006). The stress shocks the person to the extent that a reasonable person can become temporarily insane.


Leverick, F. (2006). Killing in self-defense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Adnan vs. Baltimore: Killing in Self-Defense. (2022, Apr 04). Retrieved from

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