Adnan Syed, known to many as a subject of the popular podcast “Serial,” has been granted a new trial almost 20 years after he was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to a life in prison.
Syed received the initial sentence in 2000 for the murder of his Woodlawn High School classmate Hae Min Lee, whose body was found in nearby Leakin Park. A Baltimore Circuit Court vacated that conviction in 2016, citing the “ineffective assistance” of Syed’s former attorney. On Thursday, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the ruling granting him a new trial.
“Serial” devoted its first season to the crime and the conviction, as host Sarah Koenig and her producers interviewed a number of Syed’s friends and family members, sparking a national debate over whether he was innocent or guilty.
Rabia Chaudry, an attorney who has fought to prove Syed’s innocence for years, was one of the interviewees and celebrated the opinion on Twitter Thursday with the hashtag #FreeAdnan.
Syed’s new lawyer, Justin Brown, also shared the hashtag on Twitter with a similar message: “WE WON THE APPEAL.” Brown held a press conference from his Baltimore office Thursday afternoon and said he had spoken with Syed after the opinion came out.
“He asked me to convey his deep gratitude and thanks from the bottom of his heart [to] all those people who have supported him this long and all those people who have believed in him,” Brown said.
After a reporter asked if Brown felt “Serial” had supported Syed’s case, the lawyer credited Koenig and her team with helping him locate alibi witness Asia McClain, a key player in the podcast.
” ‘Serial’ has also helped build this groundswell of support for us and for Adnan and for the case, and that has really fueled these efforts and allowed us to keep fighting on the way that we have,” Brown said. “Just emotionally, this has gone on for so long now that without all the support of all these people, it would have been very hard to maintain this high level of intensity and keep fighting on like we have.”