BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A judge has ordered a new trial for Adnan Syed, the Baltimore man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. The case made national headlines after becoming the center of the popular podcast “Serial.”
After years of maintaining his innocence, the main character of “Serial” Season One, 36-year-old Adnan Syed of Baltimore, has been granted a new trial.
“This is an incredible victory. We have been fighting for this day for about eight years now,” said Justin Brown, Syed’s attorney. “It’s been a grueling fight and there have been a lot of disappointments along the way and there were times when it looked like we lost, but we’ve made it and we got him a new trial.”
Syed has been serving a life sentence since 2000, when he was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend — Hae Min Lee — a classmate of his at Woodlawn High School.
Lee was found dead in a shallow grave in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. One of Syed’s friends claims that he even helped dig the hole to bury her.
The podcast, which has been downloaded millions of times, examines the case and whether Syed was wrongfully convicted.
Syed’s attorneys have argued that testimony from an alibi witness was never used in the original trial, and that a cell phone expert was never cross examined.
On Thursday, a judge vacated Syed’s conviction and says his original team failed to confront the state’s cell tower expert, creating a substantial possibility that the result of the trial was fundamentally unreliable.
“The opinion was granted on the cell tower issue. He denied the Asia McClain issue and granted it on the cell tower issue,” said Brown.
Syed’s brother, Yusuf, says his family is overcome with joy.
“At first, we were very happy, and then just kind of shocked. It’s kind of a weird, numb feeling,” he said.
Yusuf says his family has never lost hope.
“I always believed it in my heart, especially for my mom. She’s very strong and always told us to keep having hope,” he said.
Despite a crucial victory, Syed’s lawyer says there are still obstacles in the way.
“Win or lose, at this phase, we’re going to end up in Maryland’s appellate courts. I fully expect the state to appeal it. We’re prepared to fight. We’ll be ready,” Brown said.
Syed’s attorney says his focus for now is working to get him freed on bail.
“We’re going to keep fighting until he’s out of jail,” said Brown. “We’re going to see if we can get him out on bail, because as of now, his conviction has been vacated.”
The Maryland Office of the Attorney General, which argued against a new trial, released the following statement:
“It is the continued desire of the Attorney General to seek justice in the murder of Hae Min Lee. The court ruled in the State’s favor on a number of issues, but there does appear to be at least one ground that will need to be resolved by the appellate courts. The State’s responsibility remains to pursue justice, and to defend what it believes is a valid conviction.”
The state of Maryland now has 30 days to appeal.