'Serial' Subject Adnan Syed Requests New Trial

Fifteen years after being convicted of murder, the 34-year-old may get a new trial

Adnan Syed. Photo: Courtesy of Yusuf Syed/AP Photo

Adnan Syed, the subject of the wildly successful podcast Serial, may get another day in court.

Lawyers for Syed have filed a brief with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, requesting a new trial in the killing. The court has agreed to hear arguments in the case.

It’s welcome news for the 34-year-old Syed, who has spent the past 15 years in prison for the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. In 2000, Syed was sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison.

Syed, who was in high school when Lee was killed, has always denied any involvement in the murder. The case eventually caught the attention of reporter Sarah Koenig, who made him the focus of Serial. It became the most downloaded podcast of 2014, reaching about 1.5 million people per week.

Syed’s appeal was granted last month after two previous requests for appeal were denied.

Syed still faces a lengthy road. Oral arguments on the brief won’t be heard until June. If the judge rules in Syed’s favor, his lawyers will have to prepare for a new trial.

Syed’s lawyers, Justin Brown and Kasha Lesse, blame Syed’s incarceration on his late lawyer, Christina Gutierrez. They claim that she never requested a plea deal and lied about it to her client.

They also argue that Gutierrez never contacted an alibi witness who said that Syed was in the library with her at the time of the killing. Serial interviewed witness Asia McClain, who said she reached out to Gutierrez but never heard back.

“The errors committed by trial counsel were of such a fundamental nature that Syed must be given a new trial,” Brown and Lesse argued in the brief, adding that the testimony of a key prosecutorial witness “was riddled with inconsistencies.”

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case. A spokesman tells PEOPLE that the office has no response to the filing.

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