This Judge Just Announced Something That Will Make "Serial" Fans Cheer

June 30th 2016

Lucy Tiven

On Thursday, a Baltimore judge announced a huge victory for Sarah Koenig's popular and divisive "Serial" podcast — a new trial for Adnan Syed. Syed's attourney, Justin Brown, shared the news in a tweet.

The podcast explored Syed's 2000 conviction for the murder of Hae Min Lee, who he allegedly strangled and buried in a park in Baltimore.

Koenig, the podcast's host and executive producer, examined the evidence that led up to Syed's conviction through interviews with those close to him and the victim, and questioned the dependability of the cell tower data that served as crucial evidence in the trial.

Though Koenig did not claim to definitively conclude that he was innocent — and many listeners were critical of her reporting methods — her work strongly suggested that his conviction was based on dubious evidence, and argued that his lawyer's incompetence also shaped the verdict significantly.

The Atlantic reports:

"Judge Welch, in his order, cited the failure to cross-examine Maryland’s cell-tower expert about the technology’s reliability as a factor in ordering a new trial for Syed. He also ordered that McLain’s testimony from January 13, 2015, be retransmitted to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals."

In a press conference broadcast on Periscope after the decision, Brown told reporters, "This is obviously an incredible victory. I'm trying to act calm right now. We have been fighting for this day for eight years and it's been a grueling fight. There have been a lot of disappointments along the way and there were times where it looked like we had lost. But we made it, and we got him a new trial."

UPDATE 3:16 p.m. PST: On Periscope, Brown gave a statement explaining that whether or not Syed gets out on bail depends of if the state appeals Judge Martin Welch’s decision. He said that he would be looking into it over the weekend.

He also clarified that the opinion was granted on the cell tower issue, while the judge denied to hear testimony from alibi witness Asia McClain, who claims to have been with Syed at the public library at the time the murder was committed.

He also said he had attempted to contact Syed in prison, but was unsuccessful, though he suspected the news had reached him.

This story, first published at 2:53 p.m. PST, was updated at 3:25 p.m. to include details from a statement given by Syed's attorney Justin Brown on Periscope.

[h/t the Atlantic]