On Thursday, an appeals court ruled that Serial subject Adnan Syed is deserving of a new trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
In a 2-1 vote, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that the Baltimore man’s “Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by trial counsel’s failure to investigate McClain as a potential alibi witness.”
Classmate Asia McClain allegedly saw Syed in their high school library during the time prosecutors said Lee was murdered.
The podcast star’s lawyer said defense attorney Cristina Gutierrez — who passed away in 2004 — had fallen “below the standard of reasonable judgment” by not investigating McClain in the original trial.
The two Special Appeals judges wrote:
“Trial counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced Syed’s defense… because, but for trial counsel’s failure to investigate [McClain], there is a reasonably probability that McClain’s alibi testimony would have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror about Syed’s involvement [in] Hae’s murder, and thus ‘the result of the proceedings would have been different.'”
This decision affirms a June 2016 lower court ruling where Judge Martin P. Welch granted Syed a new trial and vacated his conviction.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the office of the Maryland Attorney General is “currently reviewing today’s decision to determine next steps.”
Lee — a student at Woodlawn High School — went missing in January 1999. A month later, her body was found in a Baltimore-area park.
Syed has spent the past 18 years in prison.
[Image via Serial.]