(CNN) — Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was the focus of the first season on the extremely popular “Serial” podcast, has moved closer to a new trial. But it’s not necessarily a done deal.
On Thursday, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ordered a new trial for Syed on all charges. It upheld a lower court that ruled similarly in 2016.
But prosecutors can still appeal this decision, this time to the state’s highest court.
For now, however, Syed and his lawyers are celebrating the win.
“He’s happy, he’s very happy,” lawyer Justin Brown told CNN. “He’s been waiting 18 years to hear this.”
The Maryland attorney general’s office, which could appeal, is “reviewing today’s decision to determine next steps,” spokeswoman Raquel Coombs said.
The long and winding road
Syed, 36, had been serving a life sentence in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Her strangled body was found in a shallow grave in a park one month after she went missing in January 1999.
He was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison on murder and kidnapping charges.
In 2016, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge vacated Syed’s conviction and ordered a new trial, based on claims that Syed’s trial lawyer failed to cross-examine an expert witness about the reliability of cell tower location evidence.
The state appealed the 2016 order, leading to Thursday’s decision by the court of special appeals.
Brown is optimistic they will get a new trial. He said he hopes the state will forgo an appeal and seek to retry the case.
“If we go to trial, we will win that trial,” Brown told CNN.
As for whether Syed will be released on bail before a new trial, Brown told CNN: “It’s something we’d consider revisiting.”
The first season of the “Serial” podcast, consisting of 12 episodes about the case, was downloaded more than 40 million times in 2014.