Adnan Syed, featured in ‘Serial’ podcast, will be released from prison

A photo of Adnan Syed from 1998. MUST CREDITL: Courtesy of “Serial”

A judge on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, vacated the conviction of Adnan Syed, whose murder case drew wide attention after it was featured on the true-crime podcast “Serial”, and ordered him released from prison.

The last time Syed walked free, he was 17 years old and in high school. His shackles came off in the courtroom to audible applause.

The decision by Baltimore City Circuit Court judge Melissa M. Phinn comes after prosecutors told the court they had lost faith in Syed’s conviction, citing a nearly year-long investigation that uncovered new information about “the possible involvement of two alternative suspects,” and violations in the government’s turning over evidence to the defense.

Syed was arrested in late February 1999 in the killing of Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend. He had long sought to overturn his conviction and get a new trial, but until recently, had faced opposition from prosecutors. Then on Wednesday, the Baltimore City state’s attorney office said in a motion in circuit court that – while its investigation is ongoing – it wanted the conviction tossed and Syed released.

Young Lee, Hae Min Lee’s brother, said at a hearing Monday that prosecutors’ motion to vacate the conviction left him feeling “betrayed.”

“That’s really tough for me to swallow, and especially for my mom,” he said.

Young Lee said he was “not against investigation or anything of that sort,” adding, “knowing that there could be someone out there free for killing my sister – it’s tough.”

“I ask that you make the right decision,” he said.

Syed’s case was featured on “Serial,” which had its first season in 2014. Host Sarah Koenig detailed the events surrounding the death of Lee, whose body was found in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. Investigators determined that she died by strangulation. Syed was convicted of murder in 2000 and has been serving a life sentence.

Becky Feldman, chief of the state’s attorney’s office’s Sentencing Review Unit, walked the courtroom through her “overwhelming cause for concern” about the integrity of Syed’s original trial. She discussed new evidence that pointed to two new suspects – whom she described as “credible, viable suspects” – and said that authorities had acted improperly in the course of the investigation.

Feldman said prosecutors believe the case has “an abundance of issues,” and that justice has been denied to Hae Min Lee.



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