A US judge in Maryland has ordered a retrial for Adnan Syed, the man whose disputed murder conviction was examined in the podcast Serial.
Mr Syed has served 16 years of a life sentence for a crime he claims he did not commit – the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999. Concern about his case was raised by the podcast which pointed to new evidence including an alibi and allegations of gross negligence in his defence case.
Mr Syed’s original lawyer, Ms Maria Cristina Gutierrez, now dead, failed to question a key witness, Abraham Waranowitz, about “reliability of evidence relating to cellphone towers”.
The podcast broke new ground in presentation of information and won more than 100 million listeners as the story unfolded. Serial is widely considered the reason why the case came to be reviewed by a circuit court judge in the first place.
The judge set aside Mr Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder. The argument for a new trial was Mr Syed’s last hope in his fight for freedom. He had exhausted all other avenues of appeal.
His brother, Yusef, was delighted with the news. “We really felt 100 per cent that the judge would rule in our favour … We’ve been waiting 20 years for this,” he said. – Joseph Walz