Syed was convicted in the 2000 murder of Hae Min Lee, his high school girlfriend, and sentenced to life in prison. The podcast "was enormously helpful" in garnering support for Syed, his lawyer Brown said at a press conference Thursday. The decision was made by a three-judge appeals court panel, who wrote that if the jury had heard the testimony of this key witness, Asia McClain, it would have "directly contradicted the State's theory of when Syed had the opportunity and did murder Hae". This dissent could embolden the state to pursue an appeal to the higher appellate court, which would then rehear arguments made at the lower appellate and circuit courts. Graeff said she would have reversed the lower court's ruling granting Syed a new trial. Syed asked his problematic lawyer, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, to contact McClain, but this never happened.
Now, 18 years later, he is getting a new trial.
"We are now reviewing today's decision to determine next steps", Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, said in an email. Prosecutors claimed he murdered Lee on January 13, 1999 after she ended their romantic relationship.
Investigators used the call log from Syed's cell phone to corroborate the story of the man who accused Syed of Lee's murder, former classmate Jay Wilds.
Syed was convicted of first degree murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and robbery in February 2000.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals found his trial counsel was deficient because she failed to call a witness who claims she was with Syed when Lee was murdered. The court, therefore, ordered that his convictions be vacated.
Brown is optimistic they will get a new trial. "We're ready to try the case", he said.
Adnan Syed has been granted a new trial.
The first season of the "Serial" podcast, consisting of 12 episodes about the case, was downloaded more than 40 million times in 2014. According to court documents, Syed's original attorney was "ineffective" because she didn't investigate a potential alibi witness.
While no one knows for sure whether prosecutors will appeal this case (dependent largely upon already introduced evidence) to the Maryland Supreme Court, Syed's lawyer, C. Justin Brown is taking no chances.
If you don't think there's more cases like Syed's out there, I have a desk drawer full of inmate letters I'd be happy to share.