The judge ignored Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder as prosecutors re-investigated the case that was the focus of the podcast ‘Serial’.
A Maryland judge dropped a 2000 murder conviction on Adnan Syed After prosecutors said there could be two other suspects in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, who were never revealed to the defense at trial.
The case gained national attention as the podcast “Serial” raised suspicions about his guilt.
Syed, now 42, has always said he was innocent and did not kill 18-year-old Hae Min Lee when she was strangled and buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.
Judge Melissa Phinn of Circuit Court in Baltimore on Monday ordered Syed’s release from prison and under house arrest. Prosecutors have 30 days to seek a new trial or dismiss the case.
The Baltimore state attorney filed a motion for expungement on Wednesday following a year-long investigation conducted with a public defender representing Syed, in which several problems were found with witnesses and evidence from the trial.
Prosecutors told the court they did not assert Syed’s innocence but that they no longer had confidence in the “integrity of the verdict,” and justice demanded that Syed at least get a new trial.
They say Syed should be released from the prison where he spent two decades, while prosecutors complete their investigation and decide whether to seek a new trial.
Prosecutors say they have found new information about two alternative suspects, who they have not named. Their identities were known to the original prosecutors but were not disclosed to the defense as required by law.
Prosecutors also decided that a key witness and detective investigating the murder was unreliable. They also found new information that cast doubt on cell phone data that prosecutors relied on during the trial to place Syed at the murder scene.
The podcast “Serial,” produced by Chicago public radio station WBEZ, drew national attention to the incident in 2014.
Marilyn Mosby, the state attorney for the state of Baltimore, said in a statement that “the person responsible for this horrible crime must be held accountable”.
Young Lee, the victim’s brother, told the court he was shocked and his family felt betrayed that prosecutors had reversed course after standing by the verdict for decades.
“It’s really tough going through this over and over,” he said. “It’s a living nightmare.”
Video footage from Monday showed Syed, wearing a white shirt and blue tie, waving to a crowd of supporters outside the courtroom as he was being escorted to a vehicle that had taken him away.
The Innocence Project, an advocacy group promoting criminal justice reform, welcomed Syed’s release, saying the case underscores the problem of illegal withholding by prosecutors. explanatory evidence.
“The integrity of the legal system requires accountability not only for Mr. Syed’s wrongful conviction but also for the pain that the State’s unlawful conduct caused to Hae Min Lee’s family.” the group said in a statement.