Adnan Syed, focus of popular ‘Serial’ podcast, granted new trial

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Adnan Syed (CNN)

BALTIMORE – A Baltimore judge has granted a new trial for Adnan Syed, who was convicted in the killing of Hae Min Lee. Syed’s case was the focus of Season 1 of NPR’s popular “Serial” podcast.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Martin Welch on Friday granted a request to reopen Syed’s case.
The post-conviction hearing will focus on potential new evidence, according to Justin Brown, the attorney for Syed.
Syed was convicted in 2000 in the killing of his ex-girlfriend and classmate Hae Min Lee. Her body was found in a park one month after she went missing in January 1999. She had been strangled.
Syed, 35, is serving a life sentence and is seeking a new trial.
The hearing will examine whether Syed’s previous legal representation was inadequate, possible alibi testimony from Asia McClain, a former high school classmate of Syed and Lee, and claims of misconduct by prosecutors for alleged misuse of cell tower data, according to Brown.
In January, McClain filed an affidavit saying she would be willing to testify in Syed’s case. She said that an assistant state’s attorney involved in the case had discouraged her going to the original post-conviction hearings in 2012.
The hearing will look at the reliability of cell tower data and its accuracy in location detection. In the original case, prosecutors argued that two incoming phone calls made to Syed’s cellphone placed him at the site of where Lee’s body was buried at the time of her disappearance.
Brown presented a motion saying AT&T, the company that provided cellular data for Syed’s cellphone, warned prosecutors that incoming calls were not considered reliable for location.
“Brown obtained an affidavit from the state’s expert witness regarding phone technology, who said he would have wanted to know about the disclaimer … and it could have changed his testimony,” the Baltimore Sun reported.