Adnan Syed, the captivating subject of the widely popular Serial podcast, may soon be a free man.
The Baltimore native, who was sentenced to life plus 30 years in 1999 for murdering his high school ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, has been granted a retrial, with his prior conviction vacated.
The first season of the podcast highlighted the incredible circumstances regarding Syed, Lee, the murder, and the actual trial that resulted in the life sentence. The retrail has been granted on the grounds that the attorney in Syed's first trial failed to mount a proper defense.
The podcast shined a light on major inconsistencies in the trial and asked legitimate questions as to whether or not Syed actually did commit the crime. Syed has maintained his innocence since being charged with the crime, and throughout his prison sentence, which is now more than 15 years.
Judge Martin Welch argued that the previous case should be vacated because Syed's attorney "rendered ineffective assistance when she failed to cross-examine the state's expert regarding the reliability of cell tower location evidence."
Syed's lawyer, C. Justin Brown celebrated the decision on Twitter, as did Rabia Chaudry, Syed's friend who introduced Serial host Sarah Koenig to the case and also provided the key piece of evidence, an AT&T fax cover sheet she dug up, that got him the retrial:
WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!! #FreeAdnan— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) June 30, 2016
WE WON. WE WON. WE WON. WE WON.— rabia chaudry (@rabiasquared) June 30, 2016
alhamdulillah WE WON!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/uo01OMbtxU
"The court finds that trial counsel's performance fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment when she failed to cross-examine the state's cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery," Welch wrote. He also clarified that the public interest in the case did not affect his decision. saying, “Regardless of the public interest surrounding this case, the court used its best efforts to address the merits of petitioner’s petition for postconviction relief like it would in any other case that comes before the court; unfettered by sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion."
It can be sure that this trial will receive an incredible ammount of public interest and press, and may be deemed the new trial of the century.