Adnan Syed, a Baltimore man whose murder conviction was brought to light in the popular podcast “Serial,” may have a chance at freedom more than 15 years later.
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Martin Welch on Friday granted a request to reopen Syed’s case.
The post-conviction hearing will focus on potential new evidence, according to Justin Brown, the attorney for Syed.
Syed was convicted in 2000 in the killing of his ex-girlfriend and classmate Hae Min Lee. Her body was found in a park one month after she went missing in January 1999. She had been strangled.
Syed, 35, is serving a life sentence and is seeking a new trial.
The hearing will examine whether Syed’s previous legal representation was inadequate, possible alibi testimony from Asia McClain, a former high school classmate of Syed and Lee, and claims of misconduct by prosecutors for alleged misuse of cell tower data, according to Brown.
In January, McClain filed an affidavit saying she would be willing to testify in Syed’s case. She said that an assistant state’s attorney involved in the case had discouraged her going to the original post-conviction hearings in 2012.
The hearing will look at the reliability of cell tower data and its accuracy in location detection. In the original case, prosecutors argued that two incoming phone calls made to Syed’s cellphone placed him at the site of where Lee’s body was buried at the time of her disappearance.
Brown presented a motion saying AT&T, the company that provided cellular data for Syed’s cellphone, warned prosecutors that incoming calls were not considered reliable for location.
“Brown obtained an affidavit from the state’s expert witness regarding phone technology, who said he would have wanted to know about the disclaimer … and it could have changed his testimony,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
Rabia Chaudry, a public advocate for Syed, told CNN she was in tears when she heard about the case being reopened.
“They were happy tears,” she said. “I was feeling very positive with our chances. But this is what we have been trying to get since 2009 in the post-conviction trial. It’s taken years to get to this point.”
In May, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed to send Syed’s case back to the lower court so that the convicted man could file a request to reopen the case.
David Nitkin, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, told CNN that there would be no comment beyond saying the office will present the state’s case in court. According to the Baltimore Sun, prosecutors earlier argued against a new hearing, saying the defense request is “meritless.”