Adnan Syed: judge overturns murder conviction featured in Serial podcast - IgbohoConnect

A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning his conviction for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee – a case chronicled in the hit podcast Serial.

Adnan Syed

Ruling that the state violated its legal obligation to share exculpatory evidence with Syed’s defense, the circuit court judge, Melissa Phinn, ordered Syed placed on home detention with GPS monitoring. Phinn also gave the state 30 days to decide whether to seek a new trial or dismiss the case.

As the hearing ended, Phinn said: “All right Mr Syed, you’re free to join your family.”

Outside, Syed smiled as he was shepherded to an SUV, through a sea of cameras and cheering supporters.

Adnan Syed, subject of the Serial podcast, exits court to cheers – video

Lee was 18 when she was strangled and killed. Her body was found buried in Leakin Park, Baltimore, in February 1999.

Syed’s first trial, in December 1999, ended in mistrial. At his second trial, in February 2000, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Now 41, he has spent more than 20 years behind bars. He has always maintained his innocence.

He was led into the crowded courtroom in handcuffs on Monday. He sat next to his attorney, dressed in a white shirt and tie. His mother and other family members were present, as was the state attorney, Marilyn Mosby.
The case first came to public attention in 2014, when the first season of Serial raised questions about some of the evidence used.

Sarah Koenig, a radio producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter who spent more than a year researching the case and reporting her findings in hour-long segments, created the 12-part true-crime series.
The podcast won a Peabody Award and helped popularize the format significantly.

Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and activist, wrote then: “Adnan is my younger brother’s best friend and like a brother to me as well. From the day he was taken from his bed in the pre-dawn hours of 26 February 1999 until today, he has maintained his innocence and I, and my family, have believed him.”

Chaudry also said: “Every piece of forensic evidence collected pointed to Adnan’s innocence. From the hairs found on Lee’s body, which did not match Adnan, to the dozens of soil samples taken from his clothing, shoes, car and room, which returned negative results for matching soil from Leakin Park.”


Two women wearing headscarves embrace in a crowd.
Shamim Syed, Adnan Syed’s mother, left, celebrates her son’s release after he spent more than 20 years in jail. Photograph: Brian Witte/AP
“It remains difficult to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae,” Lee’s family said at the time.

“Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials so many witnesses, so much evidence,” the family added.

The state appealed the retrial order. Ultimately, the Maryland supreme court denied Syed a retrial. The US supreme court declined to review the case.

Last week, prosecutors filed a motion saying a lengthy investigation conducted with the defense uncovered new evidence that could undermine Syed’s conviction.

Mosby’s office said an investigation had “revealed undisclosed and newly developed information regarding two alternative suspects, as well as unreliable cellphone tower data”.

FILE PHOTO: Convicted murderer Adnan Syed leaves the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland February 5, 2016. The Maryland man whose 2000 murder conviction was thrown into question by the popular "Serial" podcast was in court to argue he deserved a new trial because his lawyers had done a poor job with his case. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
Adnan Syed in court on Monday to vacate murder conviction in ‘Serial’ case
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The suspects were known persons 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 due to the ongoing investigation.

Becky Feldman, an assistant state attorney, described details that undermined the conviction, such as untrustworthy witness testimony and a potentially biased detective. “I understand how difficult this is,” Feldman said, “but we need to make sure we hold the right person accountable.” Lee’s family did not immediately respond on Monday.
Mosby stated that investigators were awaiting the results of “DNA analysis” before deciding whether to seek a new trial or dismiss the case and “certify [Syed’s] innocence.”

“Justice is always worth the price paid for its pursuit,” she added.

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