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New Trial For Serial’s Adnan Syed

Convicted killer Adnan Syed, subject of âSerialâ podcast, makes case for new trialConvicted killer Adnan Syed, subject of âSerialâ podcast, makes case for new trial
Officials escort "Serial" podcast subject Adnan Syed from the courthouse in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.Photograph by the Baltimore Sun TNS—Getty Images

Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular podcast Serial who has been serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, had his conviction vacated Thursday and will get a new trial, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

According to the court order granting a new trial, Judge Martin P. Welch cited “failure to contact a potential alibi witness” and failure to disclose evidence related to cell phone tower data as reasons for vacating the conviction.

“It is finally ordered that Petitioner’s request for a new trial is hereby granted,” Welch wrote in his order.

Justin Brown, Syed’s attorney, tweeted, “WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!! #FreeAdnan”

Syed has always proclaimed his innocence. This February, after years of unsuccessfully seeking a new trial, a Maryland judge presided over a post-conviction relief hearing where new evidence was presented.

This evidence included testimony from Asia Chapman, formerly Asia McClain, who said she was with Syed in a school library at the time prosecutors said he killed Lee.

Several days after Syed was arrested, Chapman said she wrote him a letter about seeing him in the library. The next day, she said she wrote a second letter to him offering help.

But Chapman was never contacted by Syed’s then-lawyer, the now-deceased Cristina Gutierrez, whose competency was one of the issues raised by the defense to try and win a new trial for Syed. Chapman’s two letters to Syed never came to light in either of the two trials that preceded his conviction and life sentence for Lee’s killing.

Syed’s attorneys also claimed cell tower data used to help convict him was unreliable, and that the prosecution failed to disclose evidence which would have called the data’s reliability into question. The data was used to place Syed in the park where Lee’s body was later recovered on the night she disappeared.

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