Serial podcast wins Adnan Syed a new trial
A JUDGE has granted a retrial to Adnan Syed, whose conviction for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend was examined in the first season of hit podcast Serial.
Mr Syed's lawyer Justin Brown tweeted "WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!! #FreeAdnan" on Thursday afternoon, Friday morning in Australia, and already has more than 3000 retweets and more than 4000 likes.
My Syed's family friend Rabia Chaudry, also celebrated the decision online
"WE WON. WE WON. WE WON. WE WON. alhamdulillah WE WON!!!!!!!!!," she tweeted.
Mr Syed, who has already served 16 years of a life sentence in prison, has long maintained his innocence and had exhausted all other appeal avenues after being convicted of murdering Hae Min Lee after a trial in 2000.
WE WON. WE WON. WE WON. WE WON.— rabia chaudry (@rabiasquared) June 30, 2016
alhamdulillah WE WON!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/uo01OMbtxU
Adnan Syed, from the podcast Serial, will get a new trial.— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 30, 2016
How the series may have impacted his case: https://t.co/l74dYFKvQs
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Martin Welch granted the retrial on the basis Mr Syed's trial lawyer failed to effectively cross-examine the prosecution's cell tower expert about the reliability of cell tower location evidence.
This was one of the key areas causing speculation about Mr Syed's guilt, or otherwise, during the Serial podcast and subsequently in the hearing that led to the retrial decision.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George tweeted that Serial host Sarah Koenig said she was "surprised by #AdnanSyed getting a new trial & is still processing everything".
The podcast Serial raised the profile of Mr Syed's plight and made people the world over question his guilt and whether he had received a fair trial.
The Washington Post reported in February that Serial had become the world's most popular podcast with 80 million downloads.
Serial won a Peabody award in 2104 for its "damning attack on disturbing flaws in the justice system" and "its compelling, drilling account of how guilt, truth, and reality are decided"
"Serial rocketed podcasting into the cultural mainstream and inspired countless follow-up pieces and many a heated argument amongst friends about what actually happened on January 13, 1999," Peabody's judges said.
During a media conference in Baltimore, Mr Brown was asked if he thought there was any chance a retrial could have come about without Serial.
"I don't think so," The New York Times reported.
Mr Brown also told media he felt "pretty confident" his client might eventually go free.
"This was the biggest hurdle. It's really hard to get a new trial," he said.
Hae Min Lee's family is yet to publicly comment on the latest news but, after the hearing in February that led to Mr Syed's conviction being set aside, her family put out a statement.
The statement said the hearing had reopened wounds few could imagine and asked everyone to "remember who the criminal is and who the victim is".
"It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae," it read.
"Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials - so many witnesses, so much evidence.
"For those of us who saw the trials and heard the evidence, it is more clear than ever that Adnan is guilty and that his lawyer did the best job she could have for him."