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Subject Of 'Serial' Podcast Granted Appeal

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now a development in a high-profile murder case. Adnan Syed is getting an appeal. Syed was convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee near Baltimore. That case was the focus of the podcast Serial, which was produced last year by the public radio station WBEZ in Chicago. It raised many questions about Syed's conviction, including the performance of his now deceased defense attorney Cristina Gutierrez.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADNAN SYED: It seemed like Cristina - Ms. Gutierrez - I don't want to say she was confusing things, but it just seemed like everything was kind of jumbled.

GREENE: That's Syed speaking to Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial. Syed had filed two appeals before the podcast, and those were both denied. Justin George is a reporter with the Baltimore Sun who's following this case.

JUSTIN GEORGE: Certainly I wouldn't say that the judges were influenced at all by Serial, but what it did was shake a lot of evidence loose.

GREENE: The podcast brought forth one witness, Asia McClain, who provided an alibi for Adnan Syed.

GEORGE: There were questions about why didn't Adnan's trial attorney call her as a witness.

GREENE: McClain has now filed an affidavit saying she was with Syed at a library at the time prosecutors argue he killed Lee.

GEORGE: It's big because that wasn't entered at all at trial. It was not even considered by the jury. And Adnan didn't really have an explanation for where he was that day.

GREENE: Host Sarah Koenig walked McClain through the potential impact of her testimony on the first episode of Serial.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "SERIAL")

SARAH KOENIG: If you're saying you saw him on this day at that time, that means the state's timeline for the - their whole theory of the case doesn't make any sense.

ASIA MCCLAIN: It's a possibility.

GREENE: It's also just a possibility that Syed's conviction would be overturned as Justin George told us.

GEORGE: You would expect that the state would keep challenging. I'm sure Adnan is not going to, you know, give up either. So, you know, this could be a prolonged fight. Who knows exactly what's going to happen?

GREENE: By mid-March, Syed's lawyers are due to file a briefing arguing for a new trial. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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