Adnan Syed, a convicted killer who gained international fame from the podcast “Serial,” will finally get a new trial after spending roughly 18 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals determined Syed received ineffective assistance by his counsel during his 2000 trial, according to a 138-page opinion filed Thursday afternoon.
The ruling can still be appealed to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which means Syed’s conviction could be upheld.
Syed’s conviction was originally vacated by a lower circuit court in 2016, but the State of Maryland appealed that decision.
Syed has been incarcerated since his arrest in February 1999 for the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. She was found buried in a shallow grave in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. Syed was sentenced to life in prison in 2000.
A retired Baltimore judge issued a ruling in June 2016 granting Syed a new trial on the grounds that he received ineffective counsel in 2000 from a defense attorney who failed to cross-examine a state cell expert witness on key evidence.
The ruling followed new evidence presented during a second post-conviction relief hearing in February 2016, including testimony from alibi witness Asia McClain Chapman, who says she spoke with Syed in the library of her high school in Baltimore County at the time the state claims he killed Lee.
Syed’s lawyer celebrated the long-awaited decision on Twitter.
WE WON THE APPEAL. #FreeAdnan
— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) March 29, 2018