When Will Adnan Syed’s New Trial Be? The Subject Of ‘Serial’ Will Return To Court

Followers of the weekly podcast Serial, here’s a real-life, real-time update: a Baltimore judge on Thursday afternoon vacated Adnan Syed’s murder conviction, and, additionally, granted his request for a new trial. So, when will Adnan Syed’s new trial be? While a date has yet to be formally announced, it was certainly a long time in the making and is a victory to Syed’s defense attorneys, family, and the writers of Serial.

For those of you who don’t follow the podcast: Serial explores the murder case and conviction of Syed, who was found guilty in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, and burying her body in Leakin Park. Both Lee and Syed were students of Woodlawn High School. Syed was convicted in 2000 mainly because of the testimony of an acquaintance. There was no DNA evidence that tied him directly to the murder.

The weekly podcast calls into question the fairness and validity of Syed’s trial and sentence, and a spinoff podcast, Undisclosed, uncovered a fax sheet that brought into question the reliability of cell phone tower evidence used against Syed.

Syed’s attorneys claimed in a post-conviction hearing four months ago that both a critical alibi witness and the questionable cell phone records were overlooked in his original trial. The cell phone tower evidence played a crucial role in convincing retired Judge Martin Welch to hand down an order on Thursday for a new trial for Syed.

“The court finds that trial counsel’s performance fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment when she failed to cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery,” Welch wrote in his order.

His attorney C. Justin Brown has since broke the news on Twitter, and Syed’s brother, Yusuf, identified the new trial as “a win for a lot of people who are stuck in the system” in a phone call with The Baltimore Sun. “I had a feeling in my heart it was going to happen,” he said. “We are just very happy. It’s not only a win for us but a win for a lot of people who are stuck in the system because it opened a lot of people’s eyes about the justice system.”

However, in a statement to The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland attorney general’s office maintains that Syed is “a calculated killer whose conviction was the only possible outcome.” The Deputy Attorney General, Thiru Vignarajah, told the newspaper he knew the state’s position was “not popular,” which might have something to do with the tremendous popularity of Serial and the strong cynicism and doubt it has cast on the criminal justice system and its treatment of Syed.