New Trial Ordered for Adnan Syed of 'Serial' Podcast Fame

By Molly Zilli, Esq. on March 30, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fans of the podcast Serial are atwitter over the news that the subject of the captivating podcast's first season has been granted a new trial. Adnan Syed was convicted 18 years ago for murder. But as the podcast brought to light, there seemed to be serious inconsistencies and missed opportunities by his original defense team. Perhaps Serial lovers will now get a new season covering Adnan's new trial after all these years.

Who Is Adnan Syed?

Serial covered the case of Adnan Syed who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping and murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The prosecution's case relied heavily on Syed's friend, Jay Wilds, who said he helped Syed dig the hole for Lee's body. They also relied on data from cellphone towers that placed him at the site where Lee was found, strangled and buried in a shallow grave.

Ineffective Counsel

Syed's defense team argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel from his original attorney, Cristina Guitierrez, who died prior to this appeal. They pointed primarily at the fact that she failed to present an alibi witness, Asia McClain, who said she saw Syed at the library around the time of the murder. In granting the motion, the court found that this testimony could have raised a reasonable doubt in at least one juror's mind during the trial.

According to court documents, Syed's original attorney also failed to adequately cross-examine the expert witness regarding the reliability of the cellphone tower evidence. In the end, the circuit court vacated Syed's conviction in 2016 based on the ineffective counsel claims. The state appealed that ruling to the Court of Special Appeals who affirmed the lower court's decision on Thursday.

What's Next for Adnan?

Prosecutors now have 30 days to either appeal this decision to the state's highest court or go ahead with a new trial. It's not clear yet whether or not Adnan Syed will be granted bail while he awaits his new trial.

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