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Attorneys for ‘Serial’ subject Adnan Syed argue for new trial

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Attorneys for a man convicted of killing his high school sweetheart, and whose story is at the center of the popular podcast “Serial,” will argue Thursday that he deserves a new trial.

Lawyers for Adnan Syed and prosecutors will present arguments before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. A lower court judge last year vacated Syed’s conviction and ruled that he deserved a new trial because his original attorney failed to cross-examine a key witness. Prosecutors appealed that decision to the appellate court.

Syed, who remains in prison, will not attend the 2 p.m. EDT hearing, and no witness testimony will be presented.

Syed was convicted in 2000 of murder in the death of his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and burying her body in a shallow grave in a park in northwest Baltimore. He was 17 at the time.

Syed’s story was widely publicized in the 2014 “Serial” podcast, which cast doubt on his guilt and inspired armchair investigators to dig into the case and unearth new information.

“Serial” attracted millions of listeners and shattered records for the number of times a podcast has been streamed or downloaded. Syed’s attorneys say they don’t think he would’ve likely won a new trial without the fanfare surrounding “Serial.”

Syed’s new attorneys say his trial attorney, the late Cristina Gutierrez, provided ineffective counsel when she failed to cross-examine the state’s cell tower expert about the reliability of location data that placed Syed near the burial site.

It’s Syed’s second attempt at a new trial. His attorneys previously said Gutierrez failed to call Asia Chapman to the witness stand. Chapman said she saw Syed at the Woodlawn library around the same time prosecutors say Lee was killed and that Syed couldn’t be the killer. But the lower judge disagreed, saying Gutierrez’s decision not to pursue Chapman was the result of reasonable trial strategy, not negligence.

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