Serial podcast subject Adnan Syed to receive appeal hearing

9 Feb 2015

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Adnan Syed, the man who was a subject of last year’s popular podcast Serial, has been granted permission to appeal his conviction for murder.

Syed, 33, was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999 and is currently serving a life sentence in a Western Maryland state prison.

The case became a major talking point last year when it was covered by Serial, an investigative podcast produced and hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig. The show became the fastest podcast ever to reach 5m downloads on iTunes.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals will hear Syed’s case after two previous unsuccessful attempts to appeal. His legal team is expected to argue that his trial attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, provided him ineffective counsel.

Primarily, Gutierrez’s decision not to interview Asia McClain, a possible alibi witness, will be examined. McClain has sworn in multiple written statements that she saw Syed at a Woodlawn branch public library at the time prosecutors allege his classmate Lee was killed.

“It’s the first step in a pretty long process, but we’re extremely happy,” said Syed’s attorney, C Justin Brown.

Serial’s response

Following the announcement, Koenig took to the Serial website to comment on the appeal.

“In Episode 10 of the podcast, I reported that this appeal was alive by a thread,” she wrote.

“Now, I’d say it’s more of a … well-made string, maybe. Like the nylon kind. Because it means that the Court of Special Appeals judges think the issues Adnan raised in his brief are worth considering. That’s a pretty big hurdle for any appellant to clear.”

Serial debuted in October 2014 and ran for 12 episodes – all of which focused on the Syed case. Click below to listen to the first episode. A second season covering a different case will be released later this year.

Justice is blind image via Shutterstock

Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com