Serial's Adnan Syed granted new trial

Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular Serial podcast, has been granted a new trial. 

His lawyer, Justin Brown, tweeted the news late Thursday afternoon. 

Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, was granted a post-conviction hearing in February after his case gained national attention in 2014 with the release of Serial. 

In the post-conviction hearing, lawyers for Syed argued his original attorney was ineffective because she failed to call an alibi witness, and that prosecutors presented cell tower data that misled jurors. 

The podcast, hosted by Sarah Koening, examined inconsistencies in the original case. 

The judge's order, however, appears to show it was not the failure Cristina Gutierrez, Syed's original attorney, to contact alibi witness Asia McClain. 

Instead, it was Gutierrez's failure to cross-examine the state's cell tower expert that convinced the judge to grant Syed a new trial. 

In a statement, Christine Tobar, spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, said "it is the continued desire of the Attorney General to seek justice in the murder of Hae Min Lee."

"The court ruled in the State’s favor on a number of issues, but there does appear to be at least one ground that will need to be resolved by the appellate courts. The State’s responsibility remains to pursue justice, and to defend what it believes is a valid conviction," Tobar said.

In an afternoon press conference, Brown gave a nod to Koenig's work on the Serial podcast, but said the bulk of the investigation that led to a new trial being granted came from a spinoff podcast, Undisclosed. 

In that podcast, lawyer and Syed friend Rabia Chaudry probed details about the cellphone data that placed Syed in Leakin Park, where Lee's body was found, at the time of her murder. 

Brown called the judge's ruling an incredible victory, and said it has been an honor to represent Syed. 

He said he has not personally spoken to Syed about the ruling, but added it's likely he's heard the news from other inmates and guards at the western Maryland prison where he is serving a life sentence.  

"He's very well-liked there," Brown said. 

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