BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — The Maryland Court of Special Appeals filed an opinion on the Adnan Syed v. State of Maryland case Thursday, in which it upheld a circuit court judgement to grant him a new trial.
In 2000, Syed was convicted of killing his high school sweetheart, Hae Min Lee, and burying her body in a shallow grave in a park in northwest Baltimore. He was 17 at the time.
His story is at the center of the popular podcast “Serial.”
In 2016, a lower court judge vacated Syed’s conviction and ruled that he deserved a new trial because his original attorney failed to cross-examine a key witness. Prosecutors appealed that decision to the appellate court. The appellate court’s decision is what came out today.
The witness is Asia Chapman, who said she saw Syed at the library in Woodlawn around the same time prosecutors say Lee was killed and that Syed couldn’t be the killer.
Syed’s attorney, C. Justin Brown, says his client’s trial attorney, the late Cristina Gutierrez, provided ineffective counsel both when she failed to pursue an alibi by calling Chapman to the witness stand, and when she failed to cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert about the reliability of location data that placed Syed near the burial site.
“Trial counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced Syed’s defense, because, but for trial counsel’s failure to investigate, there is a reasonable probability that McClain’s alibi testimony would have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror about Syed’s involvement Hae’s murder,” the opinion reads.
“…we conclude that his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel has been established. Accordingly, Syed’s murder conviction must be vacated, and because Syed’s convictions for kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment are predicated on his commission of Hae’s murder, these convictions must be vacated as well. The instant case will be remanded for a new trial on all charges against Syed.”
Brown tweeted this after the opinion was issued:
This is a developing story.
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