Appeals court takes up 'Serial' case, could extend resolution by a year or more

The timeline for a resolution to the Adnan Syed case just got longer

A resolution in the murder case popularized in the "Serial" podcast could be more than a year away, after the state's second-highest court agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal of an order granting Adnan Syed a new trial.

The Court of Special Appeals will hear arguments in the appeal in June, Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser wrote in an order issued Wednesday. The court typically takes months to issue a ruling, and that ruling could then be appealed to the state's highest court.

"We're disappointed this will get dragged out longer," Syed's lead attorney, C. Justin Brown, said in a statement. "But we're confident Adnan will eventually get the new trial he deserves."

Syed was convicted of murdering ex-girlfriend and Woodlawn High School classmate Hae Min Lee in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.

His claims of innocence were featured in "Serial," the most downloaded podcast of all time, and gave rise to a hearing in which his attorneys raised questions about evidence in the case.

Judge Martin Welch overturned Syed's conviction in June and ordered a new trial. Welsh said Syed's original trial team should have raised questions about cellphone tower evidence.

The state attorney general's office, which argued against a new trial, filed an appeal in early August, and Syed's attorneys filed a conditional appeal, arguing that they should also be able to raise issues if the state's appeal was taken up.

Krauser did not set a hearing date, but said arguments would be heard during the June session.

Syed has remained in prison since he was granted a new trial. Brown argued for Syed's release on bail, saying in court filings that the appeals process could take years and that Syed has shown he is a good candidate for release pending a new trial.

Welch denied a request for a bail hearing in December, saying that "there is still compelling evidence" against Syed.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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