Adnan Syed, The Subject Of ‘Serial’, Has Finally Been Granted A New Trial

A US appeals court has vacated a conviction handed down to Adnan Syed, subject of the first season of the wildly popular true crime podcast Serial, paving the way for Syed to received a full re-trial.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld a previous 2016 ruling that Syed be allowed a new trial, on the basis of his original legal counsel failing to properly defend him.

Syed was initially arrested and tried in 2000 for the 1999 murder of former girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a trial in which he was found guilty and sentenced to life plus 30 years imprisonment.

A rejected appeal process in 2012 brought the case to the attention of Chicago radio station WBEZ and This American Life producer Sarah Koenig, who created Serial to broadcast an in-depth investigation of the case and its apparent faults.

The resulting attention the podcast garnered – during its run in 2014 it became a true cultural phenomenon – allowed Syed to continue with the appeals process, resulting in a lower court granting him a re-trial in 2016.

Yesterday, the higher appeals court upheld that ruling, setting aside Syed’s conviction and granting him a re-trial.

In its ruling, the Court of Special Appeals found that Syed’s original counsel, Cristina Gutierrez, underrepresented her client by failing to investigate or examine a potential alibi witness for Syed.

Asia McClain Chapman testified in 2016 that she and Syed were talking in a library at the exact time Lee was murdered in a Best Buy parking lot several miles away.

Gutierrez agreed to be disbarred from practising law in 2001, rather than face complaints filed with the Maryland state Attorney Grievance Commission. She subsequently passed away in 2004.

The ruling confirms that Syed’s right to effective legal counsel was violated by Gutierrez’s improper representation and failure to call potential trial-ending witnesses.

Syed’s current counsel remains outwardly confident he will be found not guilty in a proper re-trial. Syed remains behind bars for the time being.

The podcast series is being adapted for television by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.