“It’s the first step in a pretty long process but we’re extremely happy,” Syed’s attorney, C. Justin Brown, told the Baltimore Sun.
MD Court of Special Appeals rules it will hear arguments in Adnan Syed case in June session. http://t.co/7Hq0qNddi1
— Serial (@serial) February 7, 2015
Syed was convicted in 2000 on charges of robbery, false imprisonment and first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
His application for appeal centers on the claim that his attorney, Christina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, provided him with ineffective counsel during his trial. Syed has said that Gutierrez did not heed his request to seek a guilty plea offer from the state.
The court’s decision to hear arguments could eventually allow new evidence to be introduced in the case, the Washington Post reported.
Such evidence might include testimony from Asia McClain, a key witness in the case who filed an affidavit in January claiming she was encouraged not to participate in Syed’s appeal.
McClain has said she spoke with Syed at Woodlawn Public Library on Jan. 13, 1999, during the time period when the state argued Lee was murdered.
McClain did not testify in Syed’s original trial and has also claimed her testimony was suppressed during his 2010 appeal.
Syed’s appeal to the Baltimore City Circuit Court for post-conviction relief in 2010 was denied. “Post-conviction relief” can include releasing the defendant from prison, altering his or her sentence, or even ordering a new trial.
In an update on the “Serial” podcast website on Saturday, host Sarah Koenig said that while Syed had cleared a “big hurdle” with the Court of Special Appeals, the June appeal is only the first step in what is likely to be a lengthy court battle.
“No matter what the Court of Special Appeals rules, it’s quite possible the whole megillah ends up in Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Because if this current panel of judges grants Adnan relief, the state is likely to appeal to the highest court; and likewise, if it denies Adnan relief, Adnan’s attorney will probably do the same. So it’s bound to grind on for a long while yet.”
Read more from “Maryland stands by its case against ‘Serial’ subject Adnan Syed.”