New motion on evidence used to convict 'Serial' killer

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BALTIMORE (AP) -- An attorney for a convicted killer at the center of a popular podcast has filed a motion arguing that cell tower data placing the man near the murder scene was inaccurate and should not have been introduced at trial.

Justin Brown - an attorney for Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of killing his ex-girlfriend and whose case was revived in the popular podcast "Serial" - says in the motion filed Monday that the state used cell tower data to link Syed to Leakin Park, where the body was found. However, in a note attached to the data, AT&T warned that only outgoing calls can be traced and that "incoming calls will not be considered reliable information for location."

Despite this note, Brown argues, the state used the data to trace incoming calls.

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New motion on evidence used to convict 'Serial' killer
Officials escort 'Serial' podcast subject Adnan Syed from the courthouse following the completion of the first day of hearings for a retrial in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
FILE -In this Dec. 10, 2014 file photo, Prison artwork created by Adnan Syed sits near family photos in the home of his mother, Shamim Syed, in Baltimore. Syed, the subject of the popular podcast “Serial” will be allowed to appeal his murder conviction, a Maryland court has ruled. Adnan Syed, 34, was convicted in 2000 of strangling his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, the year prior, when both were high school students in suburban Baltimore. “Serial” examined the case in detail and raised questions about Syed’s guilt and whether he received a fair trial. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Shamim Syed, whose son Adnan was convicted for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend and whose case is being revived in a wildly popular podcast, poses for a photograph in her home, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Baltimore. A Maryland appeals court recently showed interest in the case and will hold a hearing in January weighing arguments that the man had ineffective counsel. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Shamim Syed, left, whose son Adnan was convicted for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend and whose case is being revived in a wildly popular podcast, poses for a photograph alongside her son Yusef in her home, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Baltimore. A Maryland appeals court recently showed interest in the case and will hold a hearing in January weighing arguments that the man had ineffective counsel. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Childhood artwork created by Adnan Syed sits on a table as his brother, Yusef, sifts through family mementos, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Baltimore. Adnan Syed was convicted for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend, and his case is being revived in a wildly popular podcast with millions of weekly listeners. A Maryland appeals court recently showed interest in the case and will hold a hearing in January weighing arguments that the man had ineffective counsel. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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BOSTON - MARCH 29: Sarah Koenig, producer and host of the podcast Serial speaks at Boston University's 'Power of Narrative' conference in Boston Massachusetts March 29, 2015. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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"We think the AT&T fax is a very important piece of evidence in this case," Brown said. Brown argued in the motion that the note from AT&T, though not initially introduced in the case, is pertinent, and was omitted from Syed's trial only because of "human error" on the part of his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez.

"There is no imaginable way this could have been a strategic choice," Brown wrote in the motion.

David Nitkin - a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, who is handling the prosecution - declined to comment on the motion.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals in February agreed to hear Syed's appeal for a new trial so a witness who was never interviewed could be added to the record.

The witness, Asia McClain, said in an affidavit that she was in a library with Syed when Lee was killed.

Syed asked the appeals court for a new trial, arguing that Gutierrez failed to adequately represent him. Brown asked for a new trial for Syed based on the fact that Gutierrez never called McClain as a witness and failed to negotiate with prosecutors for a plea deal despite Syed's request that she inquire about the possibility. Additionally, in her affidavit, McClain said she was actively discouraged by prosecutors from attending any post-conviction hearings.

Syed, now 35, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2000.

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