The Slatest

Serial’s Adnan Syed Gains an Alibi Witness and a Chance at Freedom

Adnan Syed in 1998.

Photo Illustration by Slate. Photo Courtesy Serial/his American Life.

Adnan Syed, the Baltimore County man—and Serial podcast star—convicted in 2000 of murdering his high school girlfriend is one step closer to a shorter sentence.

On Monday, Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland ruled to allow Syed’s request for post-conviction relief to be reopened in a circuit court. Syed had filed a motion for post-conviction relief (i.e., less time in jail) on the grounds that his attorney, Christina Gutierrez, had been incompetent. That motion was denied in January 2014, but in the wake of the podcast—which revealed, among other things, that Gutierrez had failed to contact Asia McClain, a potential alibi witness—Syed appealed the decision.

Now his appeal has been stayed in the Special Appeals Court so that it can be hashed out in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, which matters because lawyers in the circuit court are permitted to introduce new evidence. What kind of new evidence? Testimony from McClain, who did not speak at Syed’s 2000 trial but filed an affidavit in January stating that she remembered seeing Syed at the library at the time the prosecutors claimed he was murdering his girlfriend. McClain has said she would be willing to testify in a resuscitated trial, and a tweet from Syed’s friend and ally Rabia Chaudry suggests that that is indeed what will happen. If McClain is able to convince the court that her story is true, the now-34-year-old Syed may have a chance to escape his life sentence.