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Serial subject Adnan Syed is getting a retrial

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Guilty? Not guilty? Still unsure as you’re languishing behind on the third episode?

For the millions of you who did manage to make it through recent crime podcast phenomenon Serial, chances are your mind is made up over its subject, Adnan Syed, the Marylander jailed for the murder of his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee 17 years ago.

Serving a life sentence since his 2000 conviction for the murder, public interest in his case has been a global one.

Well, clearly all the internet sleuthing has paid off, as yesterday a Baltimore judged announced the 35-year-old is getting a retrial after it was successfully argued that Cristina Gutierrez, his lawyer in the original trial, had provided ineffective counsel and failed to investigate a crucial alibi.

A major victory for Syed – not to mention the makers of the This American Life radio show, hosted by Sarah Koenig - it’s unlikely that without the mass public interest that he’d be getting a retrial, and who’s to say potential judges and jurors won’t have been fans of the show themselves?

While Judge Martin Welch disagreed with Syed that Gutierrez made a blunder when she failed to contact Asia McClain Chapman, the key alibi featured on the podcast, and also Syed’s claim that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence, he did concede that Syed’s attorney should have cross-examined a state’s expert witness about the reliability of cell tower data that placed him near the burial site.

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Which is huge. Just huge.

One of the biggest catalysts for this development is Rabia Chaudry, a family friend of Syed who originally took the story to the producers and following the success of the show set up her own podcast called Undisclosed, delving into further details surrounding the cast including unearthed documents that raised questions about the evidence from the mobile phone masts.

Consequently, C Justin Brown, Syed’s current lawyer was able to argue in court that the data linking his phone to the burial site on the day of Lee’s murder was disingenuous, because it lacked a cover sheet warning that incoming call data was not reliable.

Speaking of the result Brown said that the new order means “the conviction is erased, it’s gone. As of this day, he’s not convicted any-more,” then quoted Serial’s Koenig:

“She said this case is just hanging by a string. Statistically it was over. We have come back from that and we have incrementally won and won and won and gained more and more traction. This is us getting over the hill.

“We’re prepared to fight. Our heels are dug in… We know the state’s not going to give up and we’ll be ready.”

Best get your deerstalker on again.

[Via: New York Times]

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