Ruling raises possibility of new trial for convicted killer in 'Serial'

Story highlights

  • New arguments will be heard in the case of Adnan Syed, convicted of murdering ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee
  • The 1999 murder and trial was the subject of the popular podcast 'Serial'
  • Arguments will be heard in June

(CNN)A new court will consider whether the convicted murderer at the center of a wildly popular podcast should get a new trial, a Maryland judge has ruled.

'Serial', a podcast spinoff of the radio program "This American Life," concluded its 12-episode series in December that chronicled -- in methodic, cliff-hanging detail -- the case of Adnan Syed, the Baltimore high school student convicted in the slaying of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
Lee and Syed were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County when she disappeared in January 1999. Her body was discovered in a city forest three weeks later.
    Throughout the podcast, reporter Sarah Koenig pointed to numerous inconsistencies made by Jay Wilds -- a fellow classmate and key witness -- in statements he made to police as well as his testimony.
    The prosecution centered largely on Wilds' testimony, which ultimately prevailed, according to Syed, thanks to missteps allegedly made by his lawyer at the time.
    "Adnan argued that his trial attorney ... had screwed up in various ways," Koenig wrote on Serial's official blog following the ruling. "Chiefly, he'd argued that her failure to speak to Asia McClain, a potential alibi witness, and (the lawyer's) failure to seek a plea deal for him, even though he says he asked her to, amounted to what's called 'ineffective assistance of counsel.'"
    Asia McClain claimed in a January affidavit that she was with Syed in the library at the time of the slaying, but she says her attempts to relay this potentially exculpatory evidence to his lawyer fell on deaf ears.
    McClain filed an affidavit in January indicating that she'd again be willing to testify, prompting Syed's new lawyers to petition the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, requesting that it release the case to a circuit court for a fresh look. Despite opposition by the state attorney general's office, Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser ruled in favor of the motion Friday.
    Koenig translated what the legal maneuvering means for fans. "In Episode 10 of the podcast, I reported that (Syed's appeal for a new trial) was alive by a thread," she wrote. "Now, I'd say it's more of a ... well-made string, maybe. Like the nylon kind. Because it means that the Court of Special Appeals judges think the issues Adnan raised in his brief are worth considering. That's a pretty big hurdle for any appellant to clear."
    But, she cautioned, "it's bound to grind on for a long while yet."
    Arguments will be heard in June.