Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of the uber-successful podcast “Serial,” is officially getting a new trial.
As a refresher, Syed was convicted of the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. He was 17 at the time of his conviction.
Since then, Syed has maintained his innocence and was the subject of Sarah Koenig’s investigative podcast, “Serial,” which brought national attention to the case with over 80 million downloads.
A subsequent podcast, “Undisclosed,” delved deeper into the legal mess that was Syed’s first and second trials and worked with his new attorney to uncover information that led to a Maryland court vacating his conviction.
There is a lot of legalese in this story but here is an abridged timeline to get you up to speed.
- 1999: Beloved high school student Hae Min Lee is murdered
- 1999: Adnan’s first murder trial ends in a mistrial
- 2000: Adnan Syed is convicted of Hae’s murder in a second trial
- 2001: Syed’s trial lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, is disbarred; she died a few years later
- 2014: “Serial” debuts telling Adnan’s story
- 2015: “Undisclosed” airs and investigates the case in real-time, uncovering some evidence Syed’s attorney was able to use in his appeal
- 2015: Maryland Court of Appeals allows Syed to appeal his conviction on the grounds that his attorney provided ineffective counsel
- 2016: Asia McClain, an elusive figure in the “Serial” podcast, testifies at a post-conviction hearing and provided an alibi for Syed at the time of the murder. Her testimony was used to bolster the claim of ineffective counsel
- 2016: A judge grants the appeal and vacates his murder conviction
- 2018: The state appealed the ruling to vacate the conviction but today a panel of three judges ruled to uphold it
An opinion released today by the court stated, “Trial counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced Syed’s defense, because, but for trial counsel’s failure to investigate, there is a reasonable probability that McClain’s alibi testimony would have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror about Syed’s involvement Hae’s murder, and thus ‘the result of the proceedings would have been different.'”
Adnan Syed will get a new trial.
His Baltimore based attorney, Justin Brown, Tweeted out his excitement over the ruling shortly after it was handed down.
WE WON THE APPEAL. #FreeAdnan
— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) March 29, 2018
And one of Adnan’s most ardent and vocal supporters, Rabia Chaudry, whose tenacity helped catapult this case into the national spotlight was understandably thrilled.
WE WON WE WON WE WON WE WON!!!!!!!!!#FreeAdnan
— rabia O'chaudry (@rabiasquared) March 29, 2018