On Thursday, a Baltimore judge granted a new trial to Adnan Syed, whose murder trial was the focus of season one of the wildly popular podcast Serial and also led to The Undisclosed Podcast, a podcast series further exploring the case. Serial broke the iTunes download record in 2014, with fans engaging in rampant speculation over Syed’s sentence.
Syed’s lawyer, Justin Brown excitedly announced news of Syed’s retrial in a tweet on Thursday:
According to NPR, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Martin Welch, who had previously denied Syed’s request for a new trial, set aside his conviction because Syed’s lawyer “fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment” when defending him in the 1999 murder trial of his ex-girlfriend and high school classmate, Hae Min Lee.
Syed, now 35, has been in jail since 2000. According to Welch, Syed’s previous attorney Maria Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, failed to question the reliability of cell tower location evidence or follow up on a potential alibi witness. In November, Syed was granted a hearing for a retrial. Since then, Asia McClain, the alibi witness who had spotted Syed in the library while the murder occurred, gave a testimony to Welch, including cellphone records and notes. Brown is currently fighting for Syed to get out on bail.
However, the family of Lee expressed anger at those who are fighting for Syed’s retrial. “It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae,” said Lee’s family in February to The New York Times.
On Twitter, fans of the podcast also shared their thoughts about Syed’s retrial.
Keep an eye out for further updates, and read Judge Welch’s full court order here.