Serial subject Adnan Syed moved a step closer to a new trial Thursday when Maryland's Court of Special Appeals upheld a 2016 decision to overturn his murder conviction from 2000 and grant him a retrial. Prosecutors, who objected when a lower court vacated the conviction, haven't said whether they'll appeal the decision from the state's second-highest court to its highest court, the Court of Appeals, reports the AP. The case of Syed, who was 17 years old when he was convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, came to national attention with the 2014 Serial podcast, which cast doubt on the conviction.
The appeals court panel decided 2-1 that Syed's lawyer in 2000 failed him by neglecting to investigate an alibi witness who said she saw him in a library around the time Lee was murdered. Syed's attorney, C. Justin Brown, tells the Baltimore Sun that the court's decision is "incredible." "It's been a really long wait, and that's been hard and it's been stressful, obviously not just for us but for Adnan, who's now been in prison for 19 years, going on 20 years," he says. "I firmly believe that he is innocent, and our goal is to get him out of prison." Syed has been in custody since his February 1999 arrest. A judge denied a request to release him on bail after the conviction was first overturned, and Brown says he plans to talk to Syed about filing a fresh request.