US & Canada

Serial murder case: Adnan Syed allowed to present new evidence

Adnan Syed Image copyright AP
Image caption Adnan Syed was sentenced to life plus 30 years for killing his ex-girlfriend

Lawyers for Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit US podcast Serial, will be allowed to present new evidence in his case after a court ruling on Friday.

Syed, 35, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999.

His defence team is trying to reopen the case based on some of the questions raised in the Serial podcast over whether Syed had received a fair trial.

A judge in Baltimore has allowed lawyers to submit new evidence for the first time since his conviction.

Serial, which was released in weekly instalments at the end of last year, became a global hit, breaking records as the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads on iTunes.

In it, journalists went through every detail in the investigation into the death of Lee, for which her ex-boyfriend Syed was convicted. Apparent errors and possible new evidence were discovered by the Serial team, leading to calls for a new investigation.

Lawyers will now be allowed to present new evidence on two fronts: the reliability of mobile phone records and the testimony of a potential alibi.

In the 2000 trial, prosecutors relied heavily on mobile phone records that allegedly placed Syed at a park in Baltimore where Lee's body was buried. Syed, who was 17 at the time, has always maintained his innocence.

But a motion filed in court in August said a newly recovered mobile phone document showed "the cell tower evidence was misleading and should have never been admitted at trial".

Image copyright Serial Podcast
Image caption Serial was one of the most popular podcasts of all time

The new hearing, a date for which has yet to be decided, will also hear evidence from a potential alibi for Syed.

Asia McClain, a friend of Syed's who was not heard in the original trial, claims to have seen him in a library at the time of the suspected killing.

The fact that Syed's first lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, failed to submit this evidence in the original trial was one of the arguments used to win him the right to appeal in February.

Court papers show the hearing will also look at why Syed's defence team did not present Ms McLain as a witness and whether there was "potential prosecutorial misconduct" as a result.

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