In June of this year, a judge in Baltimore ordered a new trial for Adnan Syed, a man who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1999—and also the subject of the wildly popular debut season of Serial. In the years since the initial trial, loads of the state’s evidence against Syed has been called into question (mostly because of the increased focus on the case from Serial), and the decision in June was based on new testimony from a witness who might have an alibi for Syed and new details regarding the unreliability of AT&T cell tower data.
Now, Syed’s case has taken another turn. As reported by Rolling Stone, Syed’s lawyers have filed a motion with the Baltimore Circuit Court in hopes getting Syed out on bail while he waits for his new trial to begin. He’s been in prison since February of 1999, so Syed getting out now—even if it’s just temporary, depending on how this new trial pans out—seems like it would be a huge deal. Furthermore, the Rolling Stone story notes that he was kind of screwed over regarding bail in his first trial, with documents initially listing him as “an 18-year-old adult rather than a 17-year-old juvenile,” which gave the courts cause to deny his request. Even after the paperwork was fixed, a subsequent attempt to get Syed out on bail was denied based on—if we’re being honest—fairly racist assumptions about Pakistani people.
As for why the attorneys think this bail hearing will go better than the others, they note that Syed has already waited 17 years to prove his innocence, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to run at the first chance he gets. Plus, aside from being arrested for murder, Syed has no documented history of violence had “has not been cited for a single violent act” in all of his years in prison. That all sounds good for Syed, but as Rolling Stone points out, there’s no guarantee that he’ll get out on bail or even get a hearing. Like everything involving this case lately, it’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens.