WASHINGTON – A Maryland judge has agree to reopen the case of Adnan Syed, whose conviction in the death of his ex-girlfriend became the subject of the popular podcast "Serial."
Syed was convicted in 2000 in the strangulation of Hae Min Lee, his former high school sweetheart, and sentenced to life in prison. He was 17 at the time of her death and is now 35. Last year, "Serial" drew millions of listeners as it explored the case in detail and questioned whether he got a fair trial.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch ruled Friday that Syed should be allowed to introduce the testimony of a potential alibi witness and evidence that calls into question the reliability of cellphone tower data. Prosecutors used the cellphone data to link Syed to the Baltimore park where Lee's body was found.
"Reopening the post-conviction proceedings would be in the interests of justice for all parties," Welch wrote.
A hearing will be scheduled within 10 days. The Maryland Attorney General's Office, which had argued against reopening the case, will represent the state. A spokesman for the office declined to comment on the judge's ruling.
The alibi witness, Asia McClain, said in an affidavit earlier this year that she was in a library with Syed when Lee was killed. McClain was never interviewed by Cristina Gutierrez, the lawyer who represented Syed at trial. Gutierrez was disbarred in 2001 and died in 2004. Syed's current attorney, C. Justin Brown, has argued that his client had ineffective counsel.
According to Brown, the state used cellphone data to trace incoming calls from Syed despite a written warning from AT&T that only outgoing calls could be reliably traced.
Prosecutors argued that Syed became inconsolably jealous after Lee began dating someone else. There were no eyewitnesses to her slaying, but a former classmate testified that he helped Syed dispose of Lee's body, which was found a month after she was killed.