In 2014, we were all captivated by the story of Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit podcast Serial, who was convicted of murder in 2000. Now 36, he’s spent the majority of his life behind bars—and the podcast delved into whether that was a rightful imprisoning or not.
Now, he’s been granted a new trial—a motion that had previously been denied.
His attorney, Justin Brown, tweeted the news on Thursday and confirmed the news to the New York Times that the motion for a new trial was granted by Judge Martin P. Welch of Baltimore City Circuit.
WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!! #FreeAdnan
— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) June 30, 2016
The decision to give Syed a retrial is seen as a major victory among fans of the show. Syed, who was found guilty of the 1999 murder of former girlfriend Hae Min Lee, has continued to maintain his innocence. Though the podcast didn’t offer any definitive theories on whether or not Syed is innocent, it did bring up questions on how many aspects of the case were handled.
Welch, the judge who granted the motion, says that his decision resulted from Syed’s then-attorney being “below the standard of reasonable professional judgment” in handling the case.
The order that gives Syed a new trial also “denies two requests for post-conviction relief.” The first request is centered “on a trial attorney’s ‘failure to contact a potential alibi witness” while the other was based on “withholding potentially exculpatory evidence related to the reliability of cell tower location evidence.”
According to the New York Times, Brown also noted that without Serial it would be unlikely that Syed would have had a retrial.
Of course, the state does have 30 days to appeal the ruling, so next steps are not set in stone just yet. Brown says his client should get bail, noting that “He’s not a flight risk and he is not a danger to the community and therefore he should be allowed out on bail.” Whether Syed will pursue that route has not been determined yet, however. Meanwhile, Lee’s family released a statement expressing their disappointment at this decision.
“We do not speak as often or as loudly as those who support Adnan Syed, but we care just as much about this case,” the statement read. “We continue to grieve. We continue to believe justice was done when Mr. Syed was convicted of killing Hae. While we continue to put our faith in the courts and hope the decision will be reversed, we are very disappointed by the Judge’s decision. We remain thankful to the many many people who have expressed their support for us, and to the State for standing by the true victims and for giving Hae Min Lee a voice. We thank you for respecting our privacy.”
Still, this news is being celebrated everywhere—and you can bet we’ll be following how this all turns out.
WE WON. WE WON. WE WON. WE WON.
alhamdulillah WE WON!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/uo01OMbtxU
— rabia chaudry (@rabiasquared) June 30, 2016