Adnan Syed case update: Serial podcast reveals what led prosecutors to ask for conviction to be overturned

Adnan Syed gets new trial

Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit podcast series Serial, walked out of court to cheers after a Maryland judge overturned his murder conviction and ordered his release after over 23 years behind bars.

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn vacated the 41-year-old’s conviction and granted him a new trial on Monday.

The quashing of his conviction came after prosecutors said that an almost year-long investigation had cast doubts about the validity of cellphone tower data and uncovered new information about the possible involvement of two alternate unnamed suspects.

Officials now have 30 days to decide whether they will fully drop the charges against Mr Syed. There’s reason to believe they will.

In the meantime, Mr Syed will remain on home detention with a GPS bracelet monitoring his movements.

Mr Syed was convicted in 2000 of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

Lee, 18, vanished after leaving her high school on 13 January 1999. Her strangled body was found in a shallow grave in a Baltimore park around a month later. Mr Syed has always maintained his innocence.


Hae Min Lee’s family releases statement

Hae Min Lee’s family has spoken out after the man convicted of her murder 22 years ago walked free from a Baltimore courthouse on Monday.

Steve Kelly, an attorney representing the Lee family, released a statement saying that “no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family”.

The family also criticised the prosecution for the lack of notice they gave that they planned to have Adnan Syed’s sentence overturned.

“For more than 20 years, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office has told the family of Hae Min Lee that their beloved daughter and sister was murdered by Adnan Syed,” the statement read.

“One week ago, for the first time, the family was informed that, through a year-long investigation that is apparently still ongoing, the state had uncovered new facts and would be filing a motion to vacate Mr. Syed’s conviction.

“For more than 20 years, no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family.

“The Lee family is deeply disappointed that today’s hearing happened so quickly and that they were denied the reasonable notice that would have permitted them to have a meaningful voice in the proceedings.”


Who is Jay Wilds?

Adnan Syed’s 2000 conviction relied heavily on testimony from his friend Jay Wilds, who claimed that Syed confessed to killing Lee and enlisted his help in digging a hole to bury her body in Leakin Park, Baltimore.

Wilds said that he went along with it because Syed threatened to tell the police that he was running a drug operation, which he feared would land him with hefty jail time.

The Serial podcast raised questions about the reliability of his testimony, saying that he had changed his story multiple times – particularly about where he was when he saw Lee’s body.

In 2019, Wilds spoke out publicly for the first time in an interview with The Intercept where he continued to maintain that he saw Lee’s body and helped Syed dispose of it.

However, he changed parts of his story once again, saying that he first saw Lee’s body in the trunk of a car outside his grandmother’s house – and not in the car park of a local Best Buy as he said at trial.

He claimed that he lied to police to protect his grandmother, as he was dealing drugs out of her home at the time.

“I didn’t tell the cops it was in front of my house because I didn’t want to involve my grandmother,” he said.

“I believe I told them it was in front of Cathy’s [a psuedonym] house, but it was in front of my grandmother’s house. I know it didn’t happen anywhere other than my grandmother’s house.

“I remember the highway traffic to my right, and I remember standing there on the curb. I remember Adnan standing next to me.”

He added: “At the time I was convinced that I would be going to jail for a long time if he [Adnan] turned me in for drug dealing, especially to high school kids. I was also running [drug] operations from my grandmother’s house. So that would ruin her life too. I was also around a bunch of people earlier the day [at Cathy’s], and I didn’t want them to get fucked up with homicide.”

Syed has accused Wilds of lying throughout the trial.

In the filing to throw out Syed’s conviction, Baltimore prosecutors raised doubts about the reliability of Wilds as a witness.


What we know about two alternate suspects in 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee

Adnan Syed walked out of court a free man on Monday, after an almost year-long investigation uncovered new evidence about the possible involvement of two alternative suspects in the 1999 slaying of student Hae Min Lee.

On Monday, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn vacated the 41-year-old’s conviction “in the interest of justice”, granted him a new trial and ordered him to be released under home detention while the investigation into Lee’s murder continues.

His release came days after Maryland prosecutors made a bombshell request for his conviction to be quashed.

On Wednesday – after more than two decades behind bars where Syed has continued to maintain his innocence of any involvement – Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a motion to throw out his conviction.

She said that “the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction” based on doubts about the validity of cellphone records as well as new information about two unnamed suspects.

Wednesday’s court filing did not name the two alternate suspects in the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

However, prosecutors said that the two alternate suspects were both known to the initial 1999 murder investigation and were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defence.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


Adnan Syed pictured enjoying new-found freedom

Adnan Syed has been pictured enjoying his new-found freedom at home with his family and supporters.

The 41-year-old, who was 17 when he was arrested and charged with murder, was released on Monday after 23 years behind bars.

His freedom comes after attorney and family friend Rabia Chaudry fought for years for his release, with his case finally gaining attention after she reached out to journalist Sarah Koenig.

Ms Koenig then went on to host the Serial podcast series about the case.

Ms Chaudry shared a photo of her and Syed smiling together inside his family home, following the judge’s ruling on Monday.

“I arise full of joy #WeFreedAdnan,” she tweeted on Tuesday morning.


Maryland’s new Juvenile Reduction Act led to case landing on prosecutor’s desk

It all began when Maryland’s Juvenile Restoration Act took effect on 1 October 2021.

The law allows offenders who were juveniles at the time of the offence to apply to have their sentences reduced.

Under the law, the offence must have taken place when the individual was a minor and they must have served at least 20 years of the sentence.

Syed was 17 when he was arrested and charged with strangling Lee to death in 1999.

By 2022, he had spent 23 years behind bars.

As soon as the law came into effect, his attorneys applied for his sentence to be reduced.

His case landed on the desk of Becky Feldman, chief of the Sentencing Review Unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, to review the request and she became “bothered by the case”, according to the new episode of Serial released on Tuesday.


Adnan Syed was losing ‘hope’ in freedom before shock release

Adnan Syed had been “trying to tamp down hope” that he would ever regain his freedom, before his shock release on Monday, it has been revealed.

In a new episode of the podcast Serial, Sarah Koenig revealed that the 41-year-old had recently been losing faith that his conviction would be overturned.

Syed was 17 when he was arrested and charged with strangling Hae Min Lee to death in 1999.

He had spent the last 23 years behind bars.

On Monday, a judge overturned his conviction and ordered his release.


Serial reveals notes about another potential suspect led to conviction being tossed

The discovery of two handwritten notes about another potential suspect ultimately led to Adnan Syed’s conviction being tossed, according to a newly released Serial episode.

The podcast, which first propelled the case to global attention and cast doubts on Syed’s guilt back in 2014, published a new episode titled “Adnan is Out” on Tuesday morning – just hours after he walked out of court a free man.

In it, journalist Sarah Koenig revealed what finally led Baltimore prosecutors to rethink the 41-year-old’s conviction for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

Earlier this year – 23 years on from the brutal murder – Becky Feldman, chief of the Sentencing Review Unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, had stumbled across two old, “messy” handwritten notes containing the name of another potential suspect.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


Serial releases new episode about Adan Syed’s release

Serial, the hit podcast that propelled the case to international attention and cast doubts on Adnan Syed’s conviction, has released a new episode following his release.

The episode titled “Adnan is out” chronicles what led the prosecutor’s office to call for his conviction to be quashed.


ICYMI: How one podcast cast doubt on Adnan Syed’s murder conviction

As Adnan Syed’s conviction is overturned, Clémence Michallon remembers the podcast that transformed a genre.


ICYMI: Timeline of Adnan Syed’s legal battle

More than two decades on from his arrest for the murder of his former girlfriend, Adnan Syed has finally walked free from prison.

Now, prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to drop the charges or to retry Syed.

Rachel Sharp reports on the case that has rumbled on for more than two decades:

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