Adnan Syed, a man whose murder conviction became the subject of national attention following a 2014 Serial podcast, has been granted a new trial. Syed is currently serving a life sentence after he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee and then burying her body in Leakin Park.
According to retired Judge Martin Welch, Syed’s trial attorney failed to properly cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert about the reliability of data that placed Syed’s cellphone near the park.
“The court finds that trial counsel’s performance fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgement when she failed to cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery,” Welch said after granting a new trial for Syed.
When the first season of Serial was released in 2014, the reliability of the cell phone records became a huge point of contention; another podcast called Undisclosed further called into question the prosecutor’s use of cell phone records. Syed was previously granted a motion allowing him to present new evidence showing he wasn’t at Leakin Park on the night of Lee’s murder.
“This case represents a unique juncture between the criminal justice system and a phenomenally strong public interest cause by modern media,” Welch said.
No date has been set for the retrial.