‘Serial’ case: Adnan Syed to be released and conviction tossed

A Baltimore judge has ordered Adnan Syed’s release after overturning Syed’s conviction in a 1999 murder chronicled on hit podcast Serial.

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered Adnan Syed’s release after overturning Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee – a case covered on hit podcast “Serial,” a true crime series that stunned listeners, revolutionized the genre.

At the behest of prosecutors who uncovered new evidence, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered Syed’s conviction overturned as she authorized the release of the now 41-year-old, who had spent more than two decades behind bars. As the judge announced her decision, there was applause and gasps in the crowded courtroom.

Phinn ruled that the state had violated its legal obligation to share evidence that could have strengthened Syed’s defense. She ordered Syed placed under house arrest with GPS tracking surveillance. The judge also said the state must decide within 30 days whether to request a new hearing or dismiss the case.

“All right, Mr. Syed, you are free to join your family,” Phinn said at the end of the hearing.

Minutes later, Syed emerged from the courthouse, smiling as he was led through a sea of ​​cameras and a cheering crowd of supporters to a waiting SUV.

Syed did not speak during the hearing, nor did he address reporters outside afterwards. But after the hearing, his attorney Erica Suter described his reaction to the decision: “He said he couldn’t believe it was real.”

Sara Patel, a friend of Syed, said: “We are very happy and relieved that he is finally free. We were just on needles and needles the whole time.”

Syed has always maintained his innocence. His case caught the attention of millions in 2014, when the first season of “Serial” focused on Lee’s murder and cast doubt on some of the evidence prosecutors had used, leading to heated debates about Syed’s innocence or guilt.

Last week, prosecutors filed a motion saying a lengthy investigation conducted with the defense had uncovered new evidence that could undermine the 2000 conviction of Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend.

“I understand how difficult this is, but we have to make sure we’re holding the right person accountable,” assistant prosecutor Becky Feldman told the judge as she described various details from the case that undermine the decades-old conviction, including others Suspicious. faulty cell phone data, unreliable witness statements and a potentially biased detective.

After the hearing, prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said investigators are waiting for the results of the “DNA analysis” before deciding whether to seek a new trial date or drop the case against Syed and “certify his innocence.”

Syed was serving a life sentence after being convicted of strangling 18-year-old Lee, whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park.

The investigation “revealed undisclosed and newly developed information about two alternative suspects, as well as unreliable cell tower data,” Mosby’s office said in a news release last week. The other suspects were known people at the time of the original investigation but were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defense, said prosecutors, who declined to release information about the suspects amid ongoing investigations.

Prosecutors said they did not claim Syed was innocent but lacked confidence “in the integrity of the conviction” and recommended his release on his own or on bail. Prosecutors had said if the motion were granted, it would effectively place Syed in a new trial status and have his convictions overturned while the case remains active.

Syed was led into the crowded courtroom in handcuffs on Monday. He was wearing a white shirt with a tie and was sitting next to his attorney. His mother and other family representatives were 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, had not contacted an alibi witness and had failed to provide effective counsel.

But after a series of appeals, the Maryland Supreme Court in 2019 rejected a new trial in a 4-3 opinion. The appeals court agreed with a lower court that Syed’s counsel was defective in failing to examine an alibi witness, but disagreed that the deficiency marred the case. The court said Syed waived his voidable attorney claim.

The US Supreme Court declined to review Syed’s case in 2019.

The true crime series was the brainchild of longtime radio producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, who spent more than a year investigating Syed’s case and reporting her findings in near-real time in hour-long segments. The 12-episode podcast won a Peabody Award and was transformative in popularizing podcasts to a wide audience.

During the hearing, Hae Min Lee’s brother, Young Lee, spoke to the court and said he felt betrayed by the prosecution as he believed the case had been settled.

“This is not a podcast for me. That’s real life,” he said.

Speaking outside the courthouse after the verdict, Mosby expressed sympathy for Lee’s brother and said she understood why he felt betrayed.

“But I also understand the importance of ensuring equity, justice and fairness as a steward of the criminal justice system. The defendant is entitled to the same,” she added.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/serial-case-adnan-syed-to-be-released-conviction-tossed-maryland/507-558f0c8d-4081-4694-8437-7f2d1d520618 ‘Serial’ case: Adnan Syed to be released and conviction tossed

Alley Einstein

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