Two years ago, the Serial podcast gripped the nation, telling the story of Adnan Syed and his flawed murder conviction in 2000. Created by This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig, Serial soon became one of the most listened to podcasts in history, gaining over 39 million listeners within its first month.
The podcast chronicled the events leading to the conviction of 19-year-old Adnan Syed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Adnan's family long maintained his innocence, and contacted Sarah to convince her to look into his case.
Watch the trailer for the Serial-inspired Making a Murderer:
A Podcast Leads To Retrial
The family claimed the trial was unfair; that his legal council was inadequate and largely to blame for his wrongful conviction. While Koenig stated that the purpose of Serial was to tell a compelling story, and not to prove guilt or innocence, it ended up doing just that. Fans around the world rallied alongside Adnan, not based on his guilt or innocence, but his clearly unjust trial. Now, in a monumental move from our justice system, Adnan Syed is being granted a completely new trial for his murder case. All because of a podcast.
On Thursday, attorney Justin Brown sent out a tweet exclaiming that they had officially been granted a retrial for Adnan Syed based on insufficient council. What does this all mean? It means that Adnan's sentencing has been erased, his convictions have been vacated, and he now has the chance to be proven innocent or justly guilty for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. All the evidence will be presented as if it were the first time.
Adnan's case began to gain steam when the podcast became popular in 2014 and attracted the attention of high profile legal professionals as well as everyday citizens who believed that the holes in the case were too great and an innocent man might be sitting in jail for the rest of his life. Serial pointed out many inconsistent facts the conviction was based upon, and the unfortunate inefficiencies of Adnan's unstable legal team. His lawyer at the time, Christina Gutierrez, was gravely ill and failed at calling key witnesses to the stand who could have proven there was reasonable doubt of Adnan's guilt. Fans of Serial were divided on his innocence, but most agree that his trial was a farce.
A former classmate of Adnan's at the time of the murder, Asia McClain, later revealed to Sarah Koenig that she had doubts about his conviction, and that she had proof Adnan couldn't have been with Hae during the time of the murder. Her affidavit led to a hearing for the retrial being granted, and her testimony led to the retrial being approved.
Fans around the world were enraptured with Adnan and the tales of his murder conviction on Serial, and some have even uncovered further evidence and holes in the case by reviewing case files and documents. The Serial podcast inspired more true crime-style documentaries, including Netflix's hugely successful Making a Murderer, and Investigation Discovery's The Vanishing Women. Adnan's case is wild proof of just how much power the entertainment industry can hold over the public, which is both inspiring and frightening. Regardless, in the case of Adnan — after 16 years in prison — this could be a life-changer.
No trial date has been set.