Adnan Syed AP

The state appealed the 2016 order, leading to Thursday's decision by the court of special appeals - Maryland's second highest court.

Syed was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison for the killing of his former girlfriend, Woodlawn High School classmate Hae Min Lee, whose body was found in Leakin Park. He was 17 at the time.

Syed maintained his innocence, and in 2014 his case attracted worldwide attention when it was featured on the "Serial" podcast, which was downloaded millions of times and prompted legions of listeners to scrutinize the case online.

Serial became one of the most popular podcasts to have ever been released and the fastest in iTunes history to reach 5 million downloads and streams.

A lower court judge vacated Syed's conviction in 2016, citing his attorney's failure to cross-examine a key witness. However, prosecutors appealed that decision to the appellate court.

Syed has maintained his innocence throughout the years.


Brown said he is pleased by the ruling and said he hopes the state won't appeal it. The state then appealed the ruling.

"We are now reviewing today's decision to determine next steps", Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, said in an email.

Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was the subject of the hit podcast "Serial", was granted a new trial by a Maryland appeals court on Thursday.

"In considering the totality of the evidence at Syed's trial with the potential impact of McClain's alibi testimony, this Court holds that there is a reasonable probability that, but for trial counsel's deficient performance, the result of Syed's trial would have been different", Chief Judge Patrick Woodward wrote for the majority.

"It's the kind of thing that the defense attorney would have to make a judgment about", he said.

Read the judge's opinion in the window below.


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

Syed has been behind bars since his arrest in February 1999.

A new trial is not yet written in stone.

The judge said questions about the cellphone tower evidence should have been raised by Syed's original team.

Brown said if the case were to go to trial, "we like our chances - we like them a lot".


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