Adnan Syed Has Won The Right To Petition Court To Hear Alibi Witness’s Testimony
Today brings another big update in the Adnan Syed case, which captured national attention as the subject of the first season of the “Serial” podcast, 15 years after the then-high schooler was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has decided that Syed’s legal team has the right to once again petition for what’s called “post-conviction relief,” which is available to those who have exhausted their direct legal appeals. Back in February, the court granted Syed a leave to appeal, based on an affidavit submitted in January by Asia McClain, who claims she was with Syed at the time when prosecutors say he killed his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, on January 13, 1999. Syed’s original defense attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, never pursued McClain as an alibi witness, and, Syed’s current team claims, also failed to properly represent him by seeking a plea deal.
Today’s decision by the Court of Special Appeals remands the case back to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, and grants Syed the right to ask that they “re-open the previously concluded post-conviction proceeding,” and could “afford the parties the opportunity to supplement the record with relevant documents and even testimony pertinent to the issues.” The decision basically indicates that the Court of Special Appeals feels like there is enough merit to Syed’s petition to warrant further inquiry. If the Circuit Court does decide to grant Syed’s appeal request, they would forward any additional evidence (like official testimony from Asia McClain) to the Court of Special Appeals for their consideration. Best case scenario for Syed is that he is granted a whole new trial.
Rabia Chaudry, a longtime friend of Syed’s who has supported his claims of innocence, says that the news came as a bit of a “shock,” as it speeds up what they expected to be a much lengthier process. “This is pretty much what we wanted. We were going into oral arguments next month [in Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals] for this result,” Chaudry told Buzzfeed News. “This is totally a bit of a shock. You expect to have the arguments, to wait six months or a year for a ruling, and see where that goes, but this means we’ve pretty much bypassed all that.”