Adnan Syed, who was found guilty of murdering his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, will receive a new trial, his legal team announced on Thursday.
WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!! #FreeAdnan
— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) June 30, 2016
Syed’s case was the subject of the viral first season of “Serial,” which became the first-ever podcast to pass 5 million downloads on iTunes. It follows the story of Syed and Lee, who met as students at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, and the events that led to Syed’s trial.
Syed has maintained that his lawyer Cristina Gutierrez, who has died since the trial, gave him ineffective counsel. Syed was sentenced to life in prison.
At a post-conviction hearing in February, Syed’s lawyer Justin Brown argued that Gutierrez made two major errors. The first was failing to call Asia McClain, a witness who may have been able to provide an alibi for Syed. McClain says that she saw Syed in a library the afternoon of Lee’s death. Brown also said that Gutierrez had not sufficiently questioned the reliability of AT&T cellphone records, which the prosecution used to indicate that Syed may have been present in the park where Lee was killed at the time of the murder.
The Baltimore Sun reported:
A fax cover sheet that accompanied the records from AT&T included a warning about the reliability of incoming calls to pinpoint location, and Brown claimed the cover sheet had either been withheld from the original defense or overlooked by Syed’s trial attorneys.
Judge Martin Welch, who gave the order to re-try Syed’s case, wrote that Gutierrez “rendered ineffective assistance when she failed to cross-examine the state’s expert regarding the reliability of cell tower location evidence.”
“I’m feeling pretty confident right now. This was the biggest hurdle. It’s really hard to get a new trial,” Brown said today at a press conference.