‘Serial’ Podcast Subject Adnan Syed to Get New Trial

Syed, now in prison for 1999 murder of his high school girlfriend, was focus of Sarah Koenig podcast’s hit first season

Adnan Syed Serial
St. Martin's Press

Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of Sarah Koenig’s popular “Serial” podcast in 2014, just won a new murder trial on appeal.

Syed, 35, was convicted in 2000 for the 1999 slaying of his former high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. He has maintained his innocence and through “Serial” convinced many listeners that perhaps an actual “reasonable doubt” existed in his case.

On Wednesday, retired Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Martin P. Welch officially vacated Syed’s conviction and life sentence. He also ruled that he wants to see the recent affidavit and testimony of Asia McClain, an alibi witness who was a key part of the “Serial” revelations, re-transmitted to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Furthermore, Syed’s previous attorney’s failure to cross-examine the state’s cell tower evidence expert was also found to be flawed and unfair to the then-defendant, Welch decided.

Welch had overseen three days of post-conviction hearings in February in which Syed’s legal team presented new evidence, including McClain’s testimony, and argued that for the gross negligence of his original defense attorney.

C. Justin Brown, a trial lawyer for the Maryland-based Brown & Nieto, LLC, who represents Syed, offered a celebratory tweet:

“Serial” Season 2 was focused on Afghanistan POW Bowe Bergdahl. That run of the podcast proved far less of a cultural phenomenon than the Syed season.

The sophomore effort did air a few interstitial updates on Syed’s appeal, however.

“Serial” is a production of “This American Life.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.