A judge in Baltimore on Monday ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee – a case that was captured on the hit podcast “Serial”.
By order of prosecutors, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered Syed’s conviction to be vacated and she approved the release of the now 41-year-old man who has lived more than two decades behind bars.
Phinn ruled that the state violated its legal obligation to share evidence defending Syed. She orders him to be released from custody and under house arrest with GPS location monitoring. She also ordered the state to decide whether to consider a new trial date or dismiss the case within 30 days.
Syed, who has always maintained his chastity, received widespread attention in 2014 when the first season of “Serial” focused on killing Lee and cast doubt on some of the evidence that the prosecutors have used, inspiring countless dinner table debates about Syed’s innocence or guilt.
Last week, prosecutors filed a petition says that a lengthy investigation conducted with the defense has uncovered new evidence that may undermine the 2000 conviction against Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend.
Syed is serving a life sentence after he was found guilty of strangling 18-year-old Lee, whose body was found in a Baltimore park.
The investigation “revealed newly developed and undisclosed information regarding two alternative suspects, as well as unreliable cell phone tower data,” the state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office said. in a press release last week. The suspects were known at the time of the initial investigation, but were neither properly excluded nor disclosed to the defense, prosecutors declined to disclose information about the suspects, said due to ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors said they did not assert that Syed was innocent, but they lacked confidence “in the integrity of the sentence” and recommended that he be released or released on bail. The state attorney general’s office said if the motion is approved, it will place Syed in a new trial, ignoring his charges, while the case continues.
On Monday, Syed was ushered into a crowded courtroom in handcuffs. Wearing a white shirt and tie, he sat next to his lawyer. His mother and other family representatives were also in the room, as was Mosby.
In 2016, a lower court ordered Syed’s retrial on the grounds that his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, failed to contact an alibi witness and offered no advice. effective.
But after a series of appeals, Maryland’s highest court in 2019 overturned a new trial on a 4-3 position. The appellate court agreed with the lower court that Syed’s legal counsel failed to investigate an alibi witness, but they disagreed that the omission affected the case. The court said Syed waived his ineffective attorney’s claim.
The US Supreme Court declined to review Syed’s case in 2019.
The true-crime series is the brainchild of longtime castle producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, who spent over a year learning about Syed’s case and reporting on the findings. in near real-time in hour-long segments. The 12-episode podcast has won a Peabody Award and has been instrumental in popularizing podcasts to a wide audience.
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