The Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted an appeal Friday for Adnan Syed, the man convicted of the murder at the center of the hugely popular podcast Serial. In the application for the appeal, Syed claimed his attorney at his first two murder trials, Christina Gutierrez, was “ineffective,” the Baltimore Sun reports. If the State Attorney General’s Office declines to oppose the decision, Syed’s appeal is tentatively scheduled this June.
“It’s the first step in a pretty long process but we’re extremely happy,” Syed’s attorney C. Justin Brown said. The Baltimore Sun adds that the approval of these types of appeals are a “rare ruling,” but as Serial listeners have come to discover, unusual occurrences are normally the case in the 1999 murder of Syed’s ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
Sarah Koenig and This American Life‘s Serial podcast has sparked a national debate among listeners, splitting them into two groups: “Jay Did It” or “Adnan Did It.” Even in the months after the podcast concluded, evidence in support of innocence and guilt keeps shifting from one camp to the other.
Jay Wilds, Adnan’s former friend who testified against Syed in court, spoke at length to the Intercept to share his side of the story, something he was unwilling to do for the podcast. The former prosecutor on the case Kevin Urick also stood by the Syed conviction. However, in January, a key witness who could potentially serve as Adnan’s alibi wrote a new affidavit supporting Syed, further muddying the case. Syed, now 34, has been in prison since 2000.
Even those who strongly believe “Adnan did it” would agree that the evidence, as presented at the trials and on the podcast, deserves another lengthy look before casting innocence or guilt on Syed. Koenig herself argued for a reexamination in the podcast’s final Season One episode, and the granting of the latest appeal is a start toward accomplishing that goal.