Adnan Syed, who was convicted in a murder case in 2000 that last year became the subject of the hit podcast "Serial," will return to court in February, a judge ordered Monday.
The post-conviction hearing — at which Syed's lawyers are expected to present an alibi witness and raise questions about phone records tying him to the crime scene — is scheduled for Feb. 5.
"This is something we've been looking forward to for a very long time," said Syed's attorney, C. Justin Brown.
Syed is serving a life sentence in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, a Woodlawn High School classmate. "Serial," a 12-episode spinoff of NPR's "This American Life," revisited the evidence and raised questions about Syed's defense and the state's case against him.
It was downloaded more than 76 million times, smashing records for a podcast and drawing international attention to the case.
In trial, prosecutors used the testimony of Jay Wilds, an acquaintance of Syed's who said he helped him bury Lee's body in Baltimore's Leakin Park, and cellphone signal records they said linked Syed to the park at the time of the killing to win a conviction.
After Syed's arrest, Asia McClain, another Woodlawn classmate who did not testify in his trial, wrote him letters saying she had seen him in a public library on the day Lee was killed.
The Court of Special Appeals last February agreed to hear Syed's request for a new trial and said in May that McClain should be allowed to testify in Circuit Court to aid in the deliberations.
In another twist, Brown this summer submitted a fax cover sheet from AT&T with a disclaimer about the unreliability of pinpointing the location of cellphones using incoming calls.
Brown said the disclaimer should have excluded the state's cellphone evidence from the trial, and he obtained an affidavit from the state's expert witness on cellphone technology saying the disclaimer could have changed his testimony.