'Serial' podcast subject Adnan Syed granted new trial

Adnan Syed has been in prison for almost 20 years for a crime he says he didn't commit

Lee's body was found in 1999 in a Baltimore park, following her disappearance weeks earlier.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals voted 2-1 to find that Syed's "Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by trial counsel's failure to investigate McClain as a potential alibi witness".

The attorney general's office could appeal Thursday's decision to the state's highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals.

Adnan Syed in 1999, and his girlfriend Hae Min Lee with friends
SERIAL PODCAST Adnan Syed in 1999, and his girlfriend Hae Min Lee with friends

Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch had ruled that Syed's original lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, should have cross-examined a witness about the reliability of cellphone tower evidence. The ruling can still be appealed to the Court of Appeals, according to ABC News.

The case was the subject of the first season of the Serial podcast, released in 2014 by This American Life. The show attracted millions of listeners and shattered podcast records.

Syed's attorney C. Justin Brown tweeted about the successful appeal on Thursday.

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In its opinion Thursday, the three-judge panel affirmed that the defense team's "deficient performance prejudiced Syed's defense", explaining that his counsel failed to contact a potential witness whose alibi could "have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror".

Koenig's telling of Syed's case questioned the state's evidence against him and focused several episodes on Chapman, who said she had seen Syed at the library at the time Lee's murder was said to have taken place - giving him an alibi.

"We are now reviewing today's decision to determine next steps", Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, said in an email.

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"In addition to being incredibly entertaining, it was a great piece of reporting by [producer] Sarah Koening", Brown said.

"We hope that they will come to the conclusion that this has gone on long enough", he said.

After Syed's 2016 court victory, Lee's family issued a statement expressing their disappointment.

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