Baltimore man highlighted in 'Serial' to get new murder trial

Adnan Syed has been in prison for almost 20 years for a crime he says he didn't commit

Adnan Syed, 36, had been serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was the subject of the popular "Serial" podcast, has been granted a new trial.

During a hearing in June, Thiru Vignarajah, a special assistant attorney general arguing on behalf of the state, said it was reasonable not to seek out McClain because Syed's lawyer was focused on an alibi placing him at Woodlawn High School, not the library.

The state appealed the 2016 order, leading to Thursday's decision by the court of special appeals - Maryland's second highest court. Prosecutors appealed that decision to the appellate court.

In 2016, Retired Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch also ruled that because Syed's lawyer didn't challenge the very testimony in the case that became the focal point of "Serial", he deserved a new shot at freedom, the Associated Press reported.

Adnan Syed in 1999, and his girlfriend Hae Min Lee with friends
SERIAL PODCAST Adnan Syed in 1999, and his girlfriend Hae Min Lee with friends

The state appealed a lower court judge's ruling previous year that vacated Syed's conviction and ordered a new trial.

The case involving a 1999 murder seized public attention in 2014 when Chicago public radio station WBEZ's "Serial" podcast, which has been downloaded millions of times, pointed out possible holes in prosecutors' case against Adnan Syed, now 37.

Read the judge's opinion in the window below.

Syed's attorney, C. Justin Brown, says his client's trial attorney, the late Cristina Gutierrez, provided ineffective counsel both when she failed to pursue an alibi by calling Chapman to the witness stand, and when she failed to cross-examine the state's cell tower expert about the reliability of location data that placed Syed near the burial site. In a statement to the Sun, the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said it was "currently reviewing today's decision to determine next steps".

Brown said he is pleased by the ruling and said he hopes the state won't appeal it. "We think we're going to win a trial".

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