There’s news in the case of Adnan Syed, the Maryland man whose murder trial was the focus of blockbuster podcast Serial‘s first season.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Thursday ordered a new trial for Syed on all charges. But Syed’s supporters have been down this path before. The court upheld a lower-court ruling from 2016 which had been appealed by the state, and this new decision can also be appealed by prosecutors. (In fact, if you go to the official Serial site, you’ll see the a very deja-vu headline “Judge orders new trial for Adnan Syed,” but that’s referring to the 2016 decision.)
Syed is serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of his high-school ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The 2014 debut season of Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, brought up questions about whether Syed was fairly convicted. Koenig and producer Dana Chivvis even timed drives between locations presented in the case to see if Syed had enough time to commit the acts as the prosecution described them.
Syed’s lawyer Justin Brown told CNN his client is excited about the news.
“He’s happy, he’s very happy,” Brown told CNN. “He’s been waiting 18 years to hear this.”
Serial, an award-winning podcast from the creators of public-radio program This American Life, introduced millions to the podcast medium. It’s been downloaded more than 175 million times, setting a world record, and spawned numerous podcasts recapping or reviewing it. It became such a cultural phenomenon in its first season that “Saturday Night Live” was among those to parody the program.
Those who listened to Serial will remember that Syed’s lawyer, the late Cristina Gutierrez, did not call Syed’s high school classmate Asia McClain as a witness, despite McClain saying she saw Syed at the Woodlawn Public Library at the time of the murder.
The official Serial Twitter account tweeted Thursday’s news, and fans expressed hope the podcast would take on the case again in new episodes. Serial representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Serial isn’t the only podcast to tackle Syed’s case. Syed’s friend, lawyer Rabia Chaudry, brought the cast to Serial and later co-hosted her own podcast about the case, Undisclosed. She was quick to respond to Thursday’s news, and did promise a new Undisclosed episode covering the case.
There’s still a long road ahead. The Maryland Appellate Blog explains what comes next. April 30 is the deadline for the state of Maryland to file a motion for reconsideration.
Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.
Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.