An appeals panel on Thursday vacated the conviction of Adnan Syed, whose case was chronicled in the first season of the hit podcast “Serial,” and ruled that he should be granted a new trial on all charges.
Mr. Syed was convicted in 2000 of the first-degree murder and kidnapping of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
In the ruling, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said he had received ineffective legal counsel at his trial because his original lawyer had failed to call a witness whose testimony, if believed, “would have made it impossible for Syed to have murdered Hae.”
“Accordingly, Syed’s murder conviction must be vacated, and because Syed’s convictions for kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment are predicated on his commission of Hae’s murder, these convictions must be vacated as well,” the panel wrote. “The instant case will be remanded for a new trial on all charges against Syed.”
Mr. Syed’s new lawyer, Justin Brown, said both he and Mr. Syed were “thrilled” with the panel’s decision.
At a news conference, he said Mr. Syed “asked me to convey his deep gratitude and thanks from the bottom of his heart to all those who have supported him and believed in him.”
The accounts by the new witness, and other evidence seeming to cast doubt on the conviction, were the focus of “Serial,” which was a wildly successful podcast in 2014 and popularized the format for a general audience.
The 12-episode series featured Sarah Koenig, a former producer with the weekly public radio program “This American Life,” telling the story of the killing, investigation and trial in a conversational narrative with interviews. It was downloaded more than 175 million times and won a Peabody Award.
Mr. Syed’s lawyer, Mr. Brown, said he had been unable to locate the witness, Asia McClain, until the “Serial” team began investigating Mr. Syed’s story. He said the podcast had been “enormously helpful” in pursuing justice for his client continue reading here