It was the most popular podcast in history. From the creators of This American Life, Serial became a cultural craze in 2014. Millions of people have listened to the true crime story of Adnan Syed’s conviction for murdering his ex girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Serial Season 1 had it all: lust, reverse racism and pre millennial technology.
A judge in Maryland today granted Adnan Syed a retrial despite the fact that he was out of appeals. The Peabody winning podcast may result in a get out of jail “free” card for Mr. Syed. He’s served 16 years of a life sentence.
The retrial was granted based on cell phone expert Abraham Waranowitz’s affidavit questioning his own testimony. Waranowitz says that he was not shown a critical AT&T disclaimer on the cell phone data he used to conclude that Syed had been at the location Lee’s body was found buried on the night of the murder. The disclaimer explained that “Outgoing calls only are reliable for location status. Any incoming calls will NOT be considered reliable information for location.” The data interpreted by Mr. Waranowitz was from incoming calls. He has made a formal statement that his testimony was potentially unreliable.
Lee’s family has expressed dismay that nobody has spoken out on behalf of Hae with the same voracity as Serial’s host Sarah Koenig has spoken on for Adnan Syed. He’s getting a retrial and likely out of jail because he’s famous. His own lawyer said as much in the New York Times today. We have a fucked up justice system, what else is new?