BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Yusuf Syed was shocked and speechless when he heard the announcement that his brother, Adnan Syed, would be granted a new trial.
"We're just like, is this kind of a dream or something?" said Yusuf Syed on Thursday. "We're not used to hearing the good news. We've been fighting almost 20 years and this is the first time we've heard really, really good news."
Adnan Syed's 2000 murder conviction became the subject of the popular podcast "Serial," which tells the story of former Woodlawn High School students, Hae Min Lee, who was murdered, and Syed, her ex-boyfriend. The podcast raised questions over whether Syed, 17 at the time, received a fair trial, and became a national phenomenon that led listeners to investigate the case themselves.
Syed's family and legal team were overjoyed about the announcement.
"The conviction is erased," said his defense attorney, Justin Brown. "It's gone. As of this day, he is not convicted anymore."
Brown had been working toward achieving this motion for the last eight years.
The judge handed down his ruling on Thursday after a three-day hearing in February that Brown called Syed's last shot.
"It was analagous to putting the last nail in the coffin," he said.
Syed, now 35, has been in prison since he was convicted in 2000, and was serving a life sentence for Lee's murder that occurred in 1999.
In a 59-page opinion, Judge Martin Welch on Thursday granted a new trial based on the argument that that Syed's lawyer had provided ineffective assistance by failing to cross-examine a cell-town expert.
Brown and Syed's family now expect the State to appeal the judge's decision. The U.S. Attorney's Office affirmed as much in a statement:
It is the continued desire of the Attorney General to seek justice in the murder of Hae Min Lee. The court ruled in the State's favor on a number of issues, but there does appear to be at least one ground that will need to be resolved by the appellate courts. The State's responsibility remains to pursue justice, and to defend what it believes is a valid conviction.
For Brown and Syed's family, the next step is to get Adnan out on bail.
"We're going to keep fighting 'til he's out of jail," Brown said. "We've made a lot of progress but we're still not there."
Yusuf Syed expressed appreciation to all of those who had gone to bat for his brother's case.
"Thank you to all the people who support us," he said. "It means a lot and we couldn't have gotten this far without them."
Judge Martin P. Welch's ruling was released on Thursday afternoon:
[If you are viewing this on a mobile device, CLICK HERE to see the Memorandum Opinion]