CRIME

Adnan Syed Granted Opportunity For Appeal In 'Serial' Case

02/07/2015 12:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 09, 2015

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Friday granted a leave for appeal in the case of Adnan Syed, the inmate at the center of the case in the popular "Serial" podcast.

Syed was convicted of fatally strangling ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999 in Baltimore County when they were both in high school. He has spent the last 15 years in prison serving a life sentence for a crime he maintains he did not commit.

The podcast revealed inconsistencies in the testimony of a key witness who said he helped bury Lee's body, but the current appeal focuses on the performance of his trial attorney.

An appeal hearing is scheduled for June in which Syed's attorney C. Justin Brown may argue that his previous lawyer Cristina Gutierez during the murder trial was ineffective, because she ignored Syed's requests to seek a plea deal.

Before Gutierez died, she was disbarred in 2001 after it was revealed that clients' money was missing.

In January, Syed's lawyers filed a supplement to the appeal which in part petitioned to have the case moved to District Court so that an alibi witness, Asia McClain, could be called.

McClain wrote a letter to Syed years ago saying she saw him in a library at the time of the killing, but she was never called to testify.

Prosecutors tried to block the latest appeal, arguing that it was "self-serving" for Syed to claim he wanted a plea deal when he's denied any guilt for years.

In the event Syed gets a new trial, his friend and advocate Rabia Chaudry has a crowdfunding page to cover legal and investigative expenses.

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