Fans of the hit podcast Serial will be interested to learn that Adnan Syed, the man whose murder conviction is the focus of the show, has been granted a new trial. Last week, Maryland’s second-highest court upheld a lower-court’s ruling that—due to deficient counsel in his original trial—Syed deserves a new trial.
The appeals court’s three-judge panel said on Thursday that his legal counsel’s “deficient performance prejudiced Syed’s defense.” They went on to say that if the defense team had managed to contact even one witness with an alibi that could “have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror,” the outcome may have been different. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a crime.
The first season of Serial followed the investigation into the murder conviction of Adnan Syed. About 18 years ago, Syed was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. But the show’s host, Sarah Koenig, uncovered multiple inconsistencies in the case against Syed. For example, a woman by the name of Asia McLean should have been contacted as an alibi witness; she reported having seen Syed at the same time Lee’s murder was alleged to have occurred. However, not only was McLean not contacted by the defense team, her testimony never appeared in court.
Although Thursday’s ruling upholds a previous decision to retry Syed’s case in Maryland’s circuit court, there is a good possibility that prosecutors will appeal.
In addition to failing to contact McLean, Syed’s defense team neglected to question evidence used to trace Syed to the crime scene, including the reliability of a cell phone tower that placed him at the site where Lee’s body was found in a shallow grave.
Failure to Present an Alibi Witness
Syed’s lawyers argued that his former counsel provided ineffective assistance, primarily based on the fact that Asia McLean—who said Syed was at the library at the time of the murder—was never presented as an alibi witness. Had the jury been given this information, it is possible that a reasonable doubt may have been raised in the mind of at least one juror. Judge Martin Welch agreed, saying that Syed’s previous counsel “fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment.”
Prosecutors have 30 days within which to appeal this decision or proceed with the new trial. Whether Syed is granted bail while awaiting his new trial has not yet been determined. A MA defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with murder or any other crime.
Penalties for Murder in Massachusetts
In MA, first-degree murder occurs when an individual intentionally kills another person with premeditation. The penalty for first-degree murder is death or life imprisonment. Manslaughter, on the other hand, occurs when an individual intentionally kills another person but without premeditation. For example, if a man comes home early from a trip, finds his wife in bed with another man and kills the man, this killing—while intentional—is not premeditated. As a result, manslaughter homicide is often referred to as a crime of passion.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm
If you are facing criminal charges, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. It is our goal to keep you out of jail, and to keep your record clean. Charges for murder and other violent crimes can put you behind bars for life. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we have extensive experience in this area, and an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed entirely. Don’t go through this difficult time alone, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.