Court orders retrial for subject of Serial podcast Adnan Syed


A US appeals court has ordered a retrial for Adnan Syed, whose 2014 murder conviction was questioned by the popular Serial podcast, concluding his lawyer had failed to effectively defend him.

The case involving a 1999 murder seized widespread public attention in 2014 when Chicago public radio station WBEZ's Serial podcast, which has been downloaded millions of times, pointed out possible holes in the case against Adnan Syed, now 37.

The Court of Special Appeals in Maryland upheld a lower court's decision last year to overturn Syed's conviction in the strangling of his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee while he was in high school, and sent his case back to a Baltimore court for retrial.

He remains behind bars and is serving a life sentence.

In a 105-page ruling, the appeals court agreed with a lower court that Syed's right to effective legal representation "was violated by trial counsel's failure to investigate a potential alibi witness".

Maryland attorney-general Brian Frosh had appealed the lower court's 2016 decision.

Baltimore Judge Martin Welch had ruled that Syed's original lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, should have cross-examined a witness about the reliability of mobile phone tower evidence.

But the appeals court said Ms Gutierrez instead should have tried to investigate a potential alibi witness, Asia McClain Chapman.

Ms Chapman testified in 2016 that she and Syed were together at the time prosecutors said the murder occurred and no-one contacted her to provide an alibi at Syed's trial.

Ms Gutierrez, who died in 2004, agreed to be disbarred by the state's highest court in 2001 rather than face complaints filed with the state's Attorney Grievance Commission. She said at the time that she could no longer practice because of ill health.

The attorney-general's office could appeal the decision to the state's highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals.

"We are currently reviewing today's decision to determine next steps," said Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for attorney general Brian Frosh.

Syed's attorney, Justin Brown, said he was confident his client would be found not guilty in a retrial.

"We hope that [the state] will come to the conclusion that this has gone on long enough," he said.


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ABC .net

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