March 29 (UPI) — A Maryland appeals court upheld a lower judge’s decision to vacate the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular “Serial” podcast.
The three-judge panel of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals voted 2-1, agreeing with Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Martin Welch, who ruled in June 2016 that Syed should receive a new trial.
In 2000, a jury convicted Syed of the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, who was 18 at the time. The case drew national attention in 2014 when it became the subject of a podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig.
In its opinion, the appeals court said Syed’s lawyer during his initial trial, Cristina Gutierrez, provided insufficient counsel by failing to call an alibi witness, Asia McClain Chapman.
“McClain appeared to be a disinterested witness, and her testimony would have placed Syed at a location other than the scene of the crime at the exact time that the state claimed that Syed murdered Hae,” the majority opinion read.
The state could appeal the vacated conviction to the state’s Court of Appeals.
Syed’s lawyers also have taken issue with the reliability of cellphone tower evidence the state used to place him at the location in a park where Lee’s body was found.