Adnan Syed enters Courthouse East in Baltimore prior to the second day of a hearing on whether he should be granted a new trial.
Adnan Syed enters Courthouse East in Baltimore prior to the second day of a hearing on whether he should be granted a new trial.

(Diya TV) — A Baltimore judge has vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of which the popular “Serial” podcast was based on, and granted his request for a new trial.

Retired Judge Martin Welch handed down the order Thursday afternoon. Syed has been serving a life sentence since his conviction in 2000 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and for burying her body in a local park. The two were high school classmates.

Welch wrote in his opinion that Syed’s trial attorney “rendered ineffective assistance when she failed to cross-examine the state’s expert regarding the reliability of cell tower location evidence.”

“The court finds that trial counsel’s performance fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment when she failed to cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery,” Welch wrote.

His current attorney, C. Justin Brown, broke the news of the order via Twitter.


Syed’s brother Yusuf told the Baltimore Sun in a phone conversation that the family was “feeling great” after the order was made.

“I had a feeling in my heart it was going to happen,” he said. “We are just very happy. It’s not only a win for us but a win for a lot of people who are stuck in the system because it opened a lot of people’s eyes about the justice system.”

The ruling comes four months after a post-conviction hearing at which Syed’s attorneys argued that a crucial alibi witness and questionable cellphone records were wrongly overlooked by his original trial lawyer. However, the Maryland attorney general’s office has maintained that Syed was a cold-blooded killer whose conviction was the only possible outcome of the trial. Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah said he knew the state’s position was “not popular.”

SABA North America issued an official statement applauding the Baltimore City Circuit Court for granting Adnan Syed a new trial based upon ineffective counsel. They said, “We hope the new trial will not contain the improper references to Syed’s ethnicity and religion that marred the initial proceeding. Irrespective of guilt or innocence, Syed like all defendants is entitled fair and equal treatment under the law.”

The Serial podcast became the most popular of any in the history of the technology, but was a spinoff of the “Undisclosed” podcast that uncovered a fax cover sheet regarding the reliability of cell phone tower evidence that Welch in his ruling said swayed him that a new trial should be ordered.