Syed's case was reexamined in the aftermath of the popular podcast, and now, the convicted man has won a major victory
Adnan Syed, the former boyfriend of Hae Min Lee, whose murder was the subject of the first season of Serial, has been granted a new trial nearly 20 years after he was first convicted of killing her and given a life sentence.
A Baltimore City Circuit Court had decided to give Syed a new trial, and on Thursday, it was announced that the decision was upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals, determining the case is to be remanded to that circuit court for a new trial on all charges.
Syed’s conviction was among the primary points of exploration in Serial‘s first season. Hae Min Lee’s body was found in a shallow grave in a local park, immediately treated as a homicide, and Syed, her high school sweetheart, was pegged as the killer. His first trial was ultimately deemed a mistrial; he was found guilty despite maintaining his innocence and not speaking in front of the jury. Serial explored the many lingering questions about whether he was actually guilty, and by the end of the season, had raised significant doubts.
Weeks after the season concluded in 2015, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals allowed Syed to appeal his conviction; it was stipulated that his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, had provided poor counsel for failing to seek a plea bargain during his trial, an issue explored in Serial. His conviction was subsequently vacated in June 2016, with the court also ruling that Gutierrez had not aptly challenged the state’s key evidence against Syed.
Rabia Chaudry, the attorney who wrote a book based on Syed’s story and fought for years to prove his innocence (including on Serial), celebrated the news via Twitter.
You can read the court’s full decision to uphold the circuit court’s decision here.