Adnan Syed, a Maryland man whose conviction for murder became the subject of national interest in 2014, will receive a new trial after a Baltimore judge vacated his conviction and ordered a retrial on Thursday.
Syed’s was convicted of the murder of Hae Min Lee, his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend. Lee was found dead on Feb. 9, 1999 in Baltimore’s notorious Leakin Park, a veritable graveyard for the recently murdered and site of the horror movie “The Blair Witch Project.” Authorities determined the cause of death was manual strangulation.
The case captured the public’s imagination in 2014 when the trial was chronicled over 12 episodes in the podcast Serial, hosted by NPR personality Sarah Koenig. Koenig’s meticulous reporting won the series a Peabody Award. The thorough review raised a variety of issues that jeopardized the integrity of the verdict, including dubious technical evidence, conflicting timelines, and allegation of racial bias. Syed is Pakistani and Muslim. (RELATED: UVA Jackie May Have Just Been Caught In Another Huge Lie)
Though Koenig confessed she would not have convicted Syed, she remains unconvinced of his innocence.
In January 2015, a witness named Asia McClain filed an affidavit extending Syed a partial alibi– she told the court she had been chatting with Syed in a public library at the time of Lee’s murder. McClain’s testimony, and a court finding that Syed’s attorney’s failure to cross-examine a key government witness, constituted lack of effective counsel, leading a Maryland appellate court to vacate Syed’s conviction and order a new trial.
Syed’s old lawyer, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, was considered one of Baltimore’s best defense lawyers until her disbarment in 2001 for unscrupulous financial practices.
Syed’s new attorney tweeted the news shortly after the ruling was handed down.
The new trial will be scheduled soon.
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