‘Serial’ Podcast Subject Syed Granted Appeal Hearing By Maryland Courts

The subject of the podcast Serial has gotten his wish after 12 years: he has been granted an appeal hearing.

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Friday granted Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999 and is serving a life sentence for that crime, an appeal. Syed had tried twice previously requested an appeal, but was denied both times.

Syed first appealed his conviction in 2003, but the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected his claims. In 2010, he filed for “post-conviction relief,” raising questions about Gutierrez’s defense. That request was denied by Baltimore’s Circuit Court in January 2014.

The basis for Syed’s appeal is he felt his trial attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, provided him with ineffective counsel and thus deserves to be retried with another attorney. The appeal will be heard in June of this year.

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

Shamim Rahman, Syed’s mother, has been accepting calls from family and friends congratulating her and Syed, but all remain cautiously optimistic, Rahman says.

“Adnan says it’s good news, but we’re still praying for everything,” she said.

“We don’t know what’s next.”

Syed is claiming that Gutierrez should have called Asia McClain as a witness. In multiple affidavits, McClain claims that Syed was at the Woodland branch public library at the time that prosecutors claim Syed killed Lee. No one is sure why Gutierrez did not call McClain. Gutierrez died of a heart attack in 2004. Brown also alleges that Gutierrez never discussed a plea deal in light of this evidence.

Rolling Stone is reporting that Sarah Koenig, producer of This American Life podcast, has created two factions in her audience: “Jay Did It,” and “Adnan Did It.” Even though the podcast has been completed, public opinion continues to shift guilt and innocence between the two factions.

Jay Wilds, Adnan’s former friend who testified against Syed, spoke at length to the Intercept, an online newspaper, to tell his story, something he was unwilling to do for the podcast. Former prosecutor Kevin Urick also stood by the conviction. However, in January, a key witness who could potentially serve as Adnan’s alibi wrote a new affidavit supporting Syed, further muddying the case. Syed, now 34, has been in prison since 2000.

The case now may hold some merit since McClain has reiterated in a new affidavit that she was with Syed in the library. When asked about the new evidence, or anything pertinent to the new hearing, lawyer C. Justin Brown refused comment.

[Image courtesy of baltimorefishbowl.com]