Adnan Syed gets new trial
A Maryland judge has overturned the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, in the latest twist to the case at the centre of the hit podcast series Serial.
Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn vacated the 41-year-old’s conviction and granted him a new trial on Monday, ordering his release after more than 23 years behind bars.
Minutes later, Syed left the courthouse to cheers and clapping from people outside.
The quashing of his conviction came days after prosecutors made a request for his release saying that “the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction”. 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.
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. Syed has always maintained his innocence.
Timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee and legal battle of Adnan Syed
More than two decades on from his arrest for the murder of his former girlfriend, Adnan Syed is set to finally walk free from prison.
On Monday, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn threw out the 41-year-old’s conviction and granted him a new trial, ordering his release after spending the last 23 years behind bars.
Syed, who was 17 when he was accused of killing Hae Min Lee, will be released from prison today.
Syed’s sudden release marks just the latest twist in a legal battle that has rumbled on for more than two decades – and during which he has always maintained his innocence.
Read a timeline of the case so far:
Timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee and legal battle of Adnan Syed
Syed’s sudden release marks just the latest twist in a case that has rumbled on for more than two decades
Rachel Sharp20 September 2022 01:15
Celebrities react to Adnan Syed’s release
Celebrities who were fans of the Serial podcast or had other ties to the case reacted to the bombshell news of Adnan Syed’s release on Twitter.
“Case is overturned!!! Adnan Syed is once again presumed innocent in the eyes of the law”, wrote the Pretty in Pink actor Jon Cryer.
The Independent’s Amanda Whiting has the full story:
Celebrities react to Serial podcast subject Adnan Syed’s release from prison
Syed’s case was popularised in journalist Sarah Koenig’s 2014 podcast
Rachel Sharp20 September 2022 00:45
Voices: Adnan Syed’s conviction should have been thrown out a long time ago
Twenty-two years ago, Adnan Syed was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Lee, a student in Baltimore County, Maryland, was 18 years old when she went missing in January 1999. She was found dead of manual strangulation in February of that year. Syed, who was 17 at the time of Lee’s death, was charged with her murder later that month; he was convicted a year later and sentenced to life in prison.
Syed’s case came to renewed attention in 2014, with the launch of Serial, the podcast that changed the face of true-crime programming and cast doubt on the solidity of Syed’s conviction.
Over the course of 12 episodes, journalist Sarah Koenig, the show’s host, pointed to weaknesses in the evidence used against Syed, as well as remaining idiosyncrasies and blurry areas. If there is one central theme to Serial’s first season (the show had two more, dedicated to other topics), it’s doubt — a crucial factor, considering that the US justice system dictates that one should only be convicted of a criminal offense if the jury believes they are guilty “beyond reasonable doubt.”
The Independent’s Clémence Michallon discusses the case:
Adnan Syed’s conviction should have been thrown out a long time ago
This was the only possible conclusion in 2014, and it remains the only possible conclusion now, eight years later
Rachel Sharp20 September 2022 00:15
Watch: Adnan Syed walks out of court
Adnan Syed walked out of the court in Baltimore to cheers after the judge overturned his 2000 murder conviction.
Watch the moment he left the courthouse a free man below:
Adnan Syed walks out of courthouse after request to vacate 2000 murder conviction granted by judge
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 23:45
Serial podcast announces new episode on the case
The Serial podcast, which first thrust Adnan Syed’s conviction into the spotlight, has announced that a new episode on the case will be released on Tuesday.
The podcast, created by journalist Sarah Koenig and released in 2014, told the story of Hae Min Lee’s murder and Syed’s conviction, raising doubts about his guilt or – at the least – in the prosecution’s case.
Ms Koenig was spotted outside the courthouse following the judge’s ruling.
“Sarah was at the courthouse when Adnan was released, a new episode is coming tomorrow morning,” the official Twitter account for the podcast posted minutes after the judge handed down her ruling.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 23:20
Prosecutor says investigators are waiting for new DNA tests
In a press briefing outside the courthouse in the immediate aftermath of the ruling, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that the state is waiting for the results of DNA testing which they hope could advance the investigation.
Ms Mosby said that if the tests come back with Adnan Syed’s DNA, then her office would pursue a new case against him.
But, either way, he is still entitled to a new, fair trial, she said – after pointing out multiple issues with his original case.
Under state law, prosecutors now have 30 days to decide whether to drop the charges against Syed or to retry the case.
In March, prosecutors and Syed’s defence attorneys filed a joint request for Lee’s clothing to be tested using new touch DNA testing, which was not available at the time of the original trial.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 22:55
PICTURED: Adnan Syed seen leaving courthouse
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 22:35
Adnan Syed ‘can’t believe it’s real’, says attorney
Adnan Syed’s attorney has revealed some of his first words after his murder conviction was overturned by the judge.
“He said he can’t believe it’s real,” attorney Erica Suter told reporters outside the courthouse.
“He’s looking forward to being with his family,” she added.
Ms Suter addressed the media minutes after Syed walked out of the courthouse a free man.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 22:15
‘Justice over conviction,’ says prosecutor
In a press conference on the steps of the courthouse, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby vowed that her office will always pursue “justice over conviction”.
Ms Mosby said that she asked for Adnan Syed to be granted a new trial “in the interests of fairness and justice”.
“We are not yet declaring Adnan Syed is innocent but we are declaring, in the interest of fairness and justice, he is entitled to a new trial,” she said.
The prosecutor pointed to failings in the original trial including the failure to disclose relevant information about two other possible suspects.
She said that Hae Min Lee’s family also “deserve justice”.
“Ms Lee’s family deserve closure, they deserve justice and we intend to fight for that,” she said.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 22:00
Adnan Syed is met with cheers as he walks out of courthouse
Adnan Syed was met with cheers as he walked out of the courthouse after his conviction was overturned.
The 41-year-old was spotted walking down the steps less than an hour after the judge delivered the ruling.
He made no comments and got inside a waiting vehicle. He is now expected to be fitted for GPS tracking as he is released on home detention.
Rachel Sharp19 September 2022 21:47