Adnan Syed, the man sentenced to life in prison for murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee in 2000, first came to the nation’s attention when the podcast Serial reviewed his case in 2014. The resulting firestorm of homegrown detectives, internet commentators, and legal appeals initiated a chain of events that led to Thursday’s news that Syed’s request for a new trial would be granted. In other words, after 17 years in prison, Syed and his defense team will have a chance to use new evidence to prove his innocence.
Justin Brown, Syed’s attorney, broke the news on Twitter with the exclamation: “WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!!”
According to the Baltimore Sun, Judge Martin Welch explained his decision in an opinion blaming Syed’s trial lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez. The 2000 conviction and sentencing were due, Welch argued, to her “ineffective assistance when she failed to cross-examine the state’s expert regarding the reliability of cell tower location evidence.” She also “failed to cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery.” Therefore, the judge overturned the results of that trial and granted Syed a new one.
The ruling comes just four months after Brown and the legal team argued that Asia McClain, an alibi witness for Syed, wasn’t called upon to testify in the original trial. McClain, who spoke to Serial, wrote an affidavit claiming to have spoken with Syed at the time Lee was murdered.
(Via Baltimore Sun)