Convicted murderer in 'Serial' podcast allowed to call new witness

Reuters News
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Posted: May 19, 2015 4:00 AM

(Reuters) - A Baltimore man serving life for murder, whose conviction was called into question by last year's "Serial" podcast, will get a chance to call a new witness who says she can give him an alibi.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted Adnan Syed an opportunity to call a woman who said in an affidavit she saw him at a library around the time of the murder of his ex-girlfriend and high school classmate, Hae Min Lee, on Jan. 13, 1999.

Syed appealed his 2000 murder conviction arguing that his legal counsel was ineffective for not interviewing the witness, Asia McClain, and for not seeking a plea deal.

The appeals court on Monday said it would stay that appeal and return the case to a Baltimore court to re-open the post-conviction proceedings, which McClain said in an affidavit the prosecutor discouraged her from attending.

"We believe that a stay of this appeal and a limited remand to the circuit court is in the interest of justice," the court said in a copy of the document published online by local broadcaster WBAL.

The podcast, "Serial," was released by the public radio station WBEZ Chicago last October and was the fastest to reach 5 million downloads, according to Apple.

A subsequent podcast, "Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed," was produced by a group of lawyers fighting to overturn his conviction, and aired its first episode last month.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco)