Maryland appeals court orders new trial in 'Serial' murder case

(Reuters) - A Maryland appeals court on Thursday ordered a new trial for Adnan Syed, whose conviction for a 1999 murder was questioned by the 2014 podcast "Serial," a court filing said.

The Court of Specials Appeals' decision overturned Syed's convictions and upheld a ruling by a Baltimore court in 2016 that Syed had been denied effective counsel. Maryland's attorney general had appealed the decision.

Syed was convicted in 2000 of strangling his former girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison. The appeals court said Syed's original lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, had failed to defend him adequately by not investigating an alibi witness.

"The instant case will be remanded on all charges against Syed," said the court, which is Maryland's intermediate appeals tribunal.

The "Serial" podcast on Syed's case, released by public radio station WBEZ in Chicago, has been downloaded millions of times.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and Susan Thomas)