Adnan Syed, whose case was made famous by the hit podcast Serial, had his conviction vacated by an appeals panel, meaning he has won the right to a completely new trial for all previous charges.
He was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping Hae Min Lee, his former girlfriend, back in 2000. The Serial podcast by This American Life chronicled the murder investigation and trial across 12-episodes that cast major doubt on the case.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled this week (March 29) that Syed received ineffective counsel during his original trial, detailing that his attorney did not cross-examine Asia McClain, a classmate and reportedly key witness. McClain had previously claimed she had seen Syed at the local library at the time Lee was thought to have been killed, but was never contacted by his defense despite reaching out twice.
Syed has served 16 years of his life sentence from the age of 17, but has continually asserted his innocence. His original case was overturned in 2016 but it was quickly appealed.
In a 138-page ruling, Chief Judge Patrick L. Woodward stated: “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 (in) Hae's murder, and thus ‘the result of the proceedings would have been different.’”
As the New York Timesreports, Syed’s new lawyer Justin Brown stated that they had been unable to locate McClain until the Serial podcast’s reporting.
“It’s been a really long wait, and that’s been hard and stressful, not just for us but for Adnan, who has now been in prison for 19 years, going on 20 years,” said his attorney Brown, according toRolling Stone. “I firmly believe that he is innocent and our goal is to get him out of prison.”