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Serial is a cultural phenomenon, unlike any before it in the world of podcasting. Now, it might have some real world altercations in the years to come. As it is reported today, Adnan Syed, the subject of the podcast's acclaimed and engrossing first season, will be granted a new trial for all of his charges.
As reported by The New York Times, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said Adnan Syed received "ineffective legal counsel" from his original lawyer, the late Christine Gutierrez, who failed to call on a witness whose testimony reportedly "made it impossible for Syed" to be guilty of his crimes. In 2000, Syed was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Syed received a life sentence during his initial trial and he has pleaded his innocence during his entire 18 years spent behind bars. This story is the inspiration behind Serial's acclaimed conception. The accounts by the new witness, and the other evidence that has caused people to doubt Syed's initial conviction, were heard in the 2014 podcast.
The appeals panel agreed Adnan Syed's murder convictions "must be vacated." Since his convictions of kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment are "predicated on his commission of Hae's murder," they should therefore vacated as well. Therefore, all of Syed's charges need to be reconsidered at this time. Syed and his new lawyer, Justin Brown, are both reportedly thrilled by the panel's recent decision. During a recent news conference, Syed expressed "his deep gratitude and thanks from the bottom of his heart" to everyone who has believed in him and supported him. Today is a big one for those avid true crime lovers.
Serial is a Peabody-winning 12-episode podcast series that prominently featured This American Life's Sarah Koenig. It has been downloaded more than 175 million times, according to NYT. Justin Brown said the podcast has been "enormously helpful" in pursuing justice for Adnan Syed. Not only because it brought Syed's story to a global platform, but it was also able to locate the witness, Asia McClain, who inspired this new retrial process.
Here's what Justin Brown said about Serial and his client during the aforementioned news conference.
Serial kind of shook the trees and that enabled us to get in contact with Asia McClain and bring her to Baltimore for the post conviction hearing two years ago. Serial has also helped build this groundswell of support for us and for Adnan and for the case, and that has fueled these efforts and helped us to fight on as we have.
We'll keep you posted on any additional updates with Adnan Syed's case as they arrive. In the meantime you can check out Serial and its second season.