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.

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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)
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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)
Convicted murderer Adnan Syed leaves the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
Convicted murderer Adnan Syed leaves the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland February 5, 2016. The Maryland man whose 2000 murder conviction was thrown into question by the popular "Serial" podcast was in court today to argue he deserved a new trial because his lawyers had done a poor job with his case. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Convicted murderer Adnan Syed arrives at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland February 5, 2016. Syed, 35, was convicted in 2000 of kidnapping and strangling his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, 18, and is serving a life sentence. He is seeking a retrial based on new evidence about his case amid questions about the fairness of his conviction raised by the popular "Serial" podcast. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Convicted murderer Adnan Syed (C) arrives at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland February 5, 2016. Syed, 35, was convicted in 2000 of kidnapping and strangling his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, 18, and is serving a life sentence. He is seeking a retrial based on new evidence about his case amid questions about the fairness of his conviction raised by the popular "Serial" podcast. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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"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)

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