The Maryland Court of Special Appeals today released a ruling in the latest appeal of Adnan Syed, a man currently serving a life sentence for murdering his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999.
In February, the court agreed to hear arguments from Syed’s legal team, which claimed Syed received ineffective counsel in his original trial. Christina Gutierrez, Syed’s original lawyer, failed to include testimony from Asia McClain, one of Syed’s former classmates. McClain wrote Syed a letter shortly after arrest, claiming she saw him in the library at the time of the murder and that she could provide him an alibi.
That alibi was never introduced in court, and it was this oversight that prompted the Court of Special Appeals to remand Syed’s case back to the circuit court for further proceedings. This ruling re-opens post-conviction appeals which had already been closed, in order to allow consideration of McClain’s affidavit, and potentially her testimony.
“We are very pleased with the Court of Special Appeals’ ruling and we think it’s the fair thing to do,” Syed’s attorney, C. Justin Brown, told the Huffington Post. “And it’s in the interest of justice that this case be remanded to hear the testimony of Asia McClain.”
Syed’s case was featured in “Serial,” a podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig. The 12-episode series followed Koenig and her producers as they retraced the case over the past year, interviewing witnesses and experts to re-examine the evidence. Rabia Chaudry, an advocate for Syed and the person who originally presented the story to Koenig, last month kicked off her own podcast, “Undisclosed,” which delves further into the legal questions of the original 1999 trial.
Brown’s ultimate goal is to get Syed a new trial, which could potentially result in his release from prison.”That’s the focus of our efforts right now,” he told NewsHour in February.