New motion on evidence used to convict 'Serial' killer

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BALTIMORE (AP) — An attorney for a convicted killer at the center of a popular podcast has filed a motion arguing that cell tower data placing the man near the murder scene was inaccurate and should not have been introduced at trial.

Justin Brown — an attorney for Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of killing his ex-girlfriend and whose case was revived in the popular podcast "Serial" — says in the motion filed Monday that the state used cell tower data to link Syed to Leakin Park, where the body was found. However, in a note attached to the data, AT&T warned that only outgoing calls can be traced and that "incoming calls will not be considered reliable information for location."

Despite this note, Brown argues, the state used the data to trace incoming calls.

"We think the AT&T fax is a very important piece of evidence in this case," Brown said. Brown argued in the motion that the note from AT&T, though not initially introduced in the case, is pertinent, and was omitted from Syed's trial only because of "human error" on the part of his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez.

"There is no imaginable way this could have been a strategic choice," Brown wrote in the motion.

David Nitkin — a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, who is handling the prosecution — declined to comment on the motion.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals in February agreed to hear Syed's appeal for a new trial so a witness who was never interviewed could be added to the record.

The witness, Asia McClain, said in an affidavit that she was in a library with Syed when Lee was killed.

Syed asked the appeals court for a new trial, arguing that Gutierrez failed to adequately represent him. Brown asked for a new trial for Syed based on the fact that Gutierrez never called McClain as a witness and failed to negotiate with prosecutors for a plea deal despite Syed's request that she inquire about the possibility. Additionally, in her affidavit, McClain said she was actively discouraged by prosecutors from attending any post-conviction hearings.

Syed, now 35, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2000.

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