ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland appeals court on Thursday upheld a ruling granting a new trial to a man whose conviction in the murder of his high school sweetheart became the subject of the popular podcast “Serial.”
Adnan Syed was convicted in 2000 of killing Hae Min Lee and burying her body in a shallow grave in a Baltimore park. Syed’s story was widely publicized in the 2014 “Serial” podcast, which cast doubt on his guilt. The show attracted millions of listeners and shattered podcast records.
Syed’s lawyer, C. Justin Brown, said he is pleased by the ruling.
“If the state is so confident in their case, and if they’re so confident that Syed is guilty, they should just try the case. We’re ready to try the case,” Brown said.
A lower court judge vacated Syed’s conviction in 2016, citing his attorney’s failure to cross-examine a key witness. Prosecutors appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the state’s intermediate appeals court.
In a 2-1 ruling, the three-judge appeals court panel agreed with Syed’s current lawyer that his trial lawyer was ineffective for failing to investigate a potential alibi witness who said she saw Syed at a public library at the time the state claimed Syed killed Hae.
The panel said in its written decision that if testimony from Asia McClain had been presented to the jury, it would have “directly contradicted the State’s theory of when Syed had the opportunity and did murder Hae” and could have created reasonable doubt in at least one juror’s mind and led to a different outcome.
It was not immediately clear if prosecutors plan to appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court.