Adnan Syed of 'Serial' Gets Appeal Hearing

Syed was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1999.

ByABC News
February 7, 2015, 6:20 PM

— -- The murder case at the heart of the podcast "Serial" will return to court after an appeal hearing was granted by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the convicted defendant.

The court granted a leave of appeal Friday for Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000 and given a life sentence. The ruling means Syed will be allowed to appeal his conviction.

Syed's conviction and the story behind Lee's murder was revisited in last year's popular "Serial" podcast, which explored the possibility that Syed was unfairly convicted.

Now 34, Syed appealed his conviction on the grounds that his lawyer did not try to make a plea deal and did not interview a witness who could have provided him with an alibi, according to documents filed by his lawyer C. Justin Brown and The Associated Press.

The state prosecutors have argued that there was no plea deal offered to Syed during his trial and that the only evidence that his lawyer failed him during the trial is his own testimony, according to the AP.

Syed's original lawyer Christina Gutierrez was disbarred in 2001 and died in 2004.

Sarah Koneig, the host of "Serial," wrote in a blog post that the ruling did not mean a quick end to the ongoing story, but that Syed's appeal prospects were no longer "alive by a thread." Now she wrote, it's more like "well-made string."

"It means that the Court of Special Appeals judges think the issues Adnan raised in his brief are worth considering," wrote Koneig. "That's a pretty big hurdle for any appellant to clear."

Syed's current lawyer C. Justin Brown told the AP it is often difficult to get the Court of Special Appeals to hear a case like Syed's.

"If they had said no, that would have been it," Brown said. "There would have been this incredible finality to it. But now the door's open."

As part of the appeal filing, Syed's attorneys included an affidavit from his high school friend, Asia McClain, who said she saw Syed the afternoon Lee was murdered. McClain's assertions became the focus of one episode of the "Serial" podcast after Koneig interviewed her.

In her new affidavit, which was posted to the website of Syed's attorney, McClain wrote that she saw Syed at a library during the time period that the state claimed Lee was murdered in 1999.

Both the state and the Syed's lawyers will present their case in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.