Updated on June 30 at 4:54 p.m. ET
A judge in Baltimore has ordered a new trial for Adnan Syed, the murder convict who was the subject of the Serial, the popular podcast from Chicago Public Radio. Syed’s attorney tweeted the news:
WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!! #FreeAdnan— Justin Brown (@CJBrownLaw) June 30, 2016
Rabia Chaudry, a friend of Syed’s family who spearheaded the campaign to get him a new trial, tweeted: “I am shaking with joy, shaking! Thank you Judge Welch. Thank you.” Judge Martin Welch of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City signed Thursday’s order.
Syed was convicted in 2000 of strangling Hae Min Lee, 18, and burying her body in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. The two had dated when they attended the city’s Woodlawn High School. Syed was sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison for the killing.
But there were several questions raised about the trial, including the legal representation Syed had received; why investigators had not spoken to Asia McLain, a classmate who said she’d been with Syed in the school library at the time of the killing; and the reliability of cell-tower data used to convict Syed. The Serial podcast, though inconclusive, brought many of these issues to the public’s attention.
Judge Welch, in his order, cited the failure to cross-examine Maryland’s cell-tower expert about the technology’s reliability as a factor in ordering a new trial for Syed. He also ordered that McLain’s testimony from January 13, 2015, be retransmitted to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Lee’s family has long said they believed Syed killed Hae Min Lee.