- Thomson Reuters
Adnan Syed, the subject of the wildly popular true-crime podcast “Serial,” had his sentence vacated and was granted a new trial by a Baltimore judge on Thursday.
Justin Brown, an attorney who represented Syed in his motion for a new trial, could hardly contain his excitement in a tweet:
Syed is serving a life sentence plus 30 years in prison for the 1999 first-degree murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, his former girlfriend and high-school classmate.
Sarah Koenig, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, closely analyzed his case and subsequent trial in Season 1 of “Serial.”
Syed began his motion for a retrial in February.
Based on evidence brought to light in the podcast, Syed’s attorney argued that the cell-tower data used to place Syed at the general location of Lee’s murder should be reexamined because it may be inaccurate and misleading.
In addition, in a new potential alibi for Syed, Asia McClain said in an affidavit that she was in the library with Syed at the time of the murder.
The judge who presided over the case, Martin Welch, wrote in his opinion that Syed’s original trial attorney “rendered ineffective assistance when she failed to cross-examine the state’s expert regarding the reliability of cell tower location evidence,” The Baltimore Sun reports.
Syed’s family was ecstatic about the court’s decision.
“I had a feeling in my heart it was going to happen,” Yusuf, Syed’s brother, told The Baltimore Sun. “We are just very happy. It’s not only a win for us but a win for a lot of people who are stuck in the system because it opened a lot of people’s eyes about the justice system.”
Hae Min Lee’s family has been unsupportive of Syed’s motion for a retrial.
“It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae,” they wrote in a letter to the court in February, per The Guardian.