Man freed after murder conviction featured in rejected serial podcast
A US judge has ordered the release of a man convicted in 2000 in a murder case reported on the hit Serial podcast.
At the request of Baltimore prosecutors, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered the overturning of Adnan Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and she approved the release of the 41-year-old man. years who spent more than two decades behind bars.
Judge Phinn ruled that the state breached its legal obligation to share exculpatory evidence with Mr Syed’s defence.
She ordered his release and placement under house arrest with an electronic tag. She also ordered the state to decide whether to request a new trial date or drop the case within 30 days.
“Okay, Mr. Syed, you are free to join your family,” Judge Phinn said at the end of the hearing.
Mr Syed, who has always maintained his innocence, received wide attention in 2014 when the first season of Serial focused on the murder of Ms Lee and raised doubts about some of the evidence used by prosecutors, inspiring d innumerable debates on Mr. Syed’s innocence or guilt.
Prosecutors last week filed a motion saying a lengthy investigation with the defense had uncovered new evidence that could undermine the 2000 conviction of Mr Syed, who was Ms Lee’s ex-boyfriend.
“I understand how difficult it is, but we have to make sure we hold the right person accountable,” Assistant State’s Attorney Becky Feldman told the judge as she outlined the details of the case. that undermine the decades-old conviction, including faulty cellphone data. , unreliable testimonies and a potentially biased detective.
He was serving a life sentence after being convicted of strangling the 18-year-old whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park.
The investigation “unveiled undisclosed and newly developed information regarding two alternate suspects, as well as unreliable cellphone tower data,” State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office said in a news release the week last.
The suspects were known people at the time of the initial 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. Classes.
Prosecutors said they were not claiming that Mr Syed was innocent, but that they did not trust “the integrity of the conviction” and recommended that he be released on bail or bail.
The state’s attorney’s office had said that if the motion was granted, it would effectively place Mr. Syed in a new trial status, overturning his convictions, while the case remained active.
He was led into a crowded courtroom on Monday, handcuffed, wearing a white shirt with a tie. He sat next to his lawyer, and his mother and other family representatives were in the room, as was Ms. Mosby.
In 2016, a lower court ordered a new trial for Mr Syed on the grounds that his lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, failed to contact an alibi witness and provided ineffective counsel.
After a series of appeals, Maryland’s highest court in 2019 denied a new trial in a 4-3 opinion. The Court of Appeal agreed with a lower court that Mr Syed’s lawyer failed to investigate an alibi witness, but disagreed that this failure harmed the case. The court said Mr Syed had waived his request for ineffective counsel.
The United States Supreme Court declined to reconsider the case in 2019.
The true-crime podcast was the brainchild of longtime radio producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, who spent more than a year digging into Mr Syed’s case and reporting his findings almost in real time in one-hour segments.
The 12-episode podcast won a Peabody Award and transformed the popularization of podcasts to large audiences.