Adnan Syed, subject of the massively popular true crime podcast Serial, has been granted an appeal by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. The ruling, which was handed down yesterday, is the first step towards overturning Syed's conviction.
Syed, 33, is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend and high school classmate, Hae Min Lee, in 1999. His lawyer, C. Justin Brown, filed an application for leave to appeal in January of last year — months before Serial first aired. Friday's ruling overturns an earlier 2013 decision that denied an earlier request for an appeal. Brown tells The Baltimore Sun that "it's the first step in a pretty long process, but we're extremely happy."
Brown argues that Syed's original attorney, Christina Gutierrez, was ineffective. That's known to be a difficult argument to win in court, but Brown specifically points to the fact that Gutierrez ignored Syed's request to seek a plea deal with the State. In addition, she failed to investigate a key witness, Asia McClain, who could have provided an alibi. The district attorney's office fought to block the appeal, but the court has ruled in Syed's favor and the appeal is scheduled for June of this year.