Adnan Syed: Conviction overturned in 'Serial' podcast murder case 'in the interests of justice and fairness'
Adnan Syed, whose murder trial gleaned international attention as part of the hit-podcast series "Serial", walked out of prison on Monday - after 23 years fighting his conviction on charges of murdering his ex-girlfriend.
The 41-year-old was found guilty of killing his high school classmate and onetime girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Lee, who was 18 at the time, died by strangulation and her body was later found buried in a park in Baltimore.
Syed, who was 17 at the time, has maintained his innocence throughout case, which was covered in the 12-part podcast and received hundreds of millions of downloads.
After a yearlong investigation conducted by Syed’s lawyer that uncovered evidence pointing to the involvement of two "alternative suspects," the conviction was annulled.
Prosecutors now have 30 days to decide if they will proceed with a new trial or drop the charges against Mr Syed.
VIDEO: Adnan Syed walks out of court a free man. pic.twitter.com/zjPTDfxDYZ— Mariam Khan (@MKhan47) September 19, 2022
"We’re not yet declaring that…Adnan Syed is innocent but we are declaring that in the interest of fairness and justice, he is entitled to a new trial," said Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore.
Syed could be seen leaving the courthouse. He smiled at a crowd of supporters, but made no comments to reporters.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Judge orders release of Adnan Syed after overturning 2000 murder conviction chronicled by popular “Serial” podcast. pic.twitter.com/2OWMEYLVom— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 19, 2022
His original conviction relied heavily on testimony from Jay Wilds, a former friend, who testified that he helped Syed bury Ms Lee’s body.
Cellphone billing records were used to corroborate Wilds’ testimony and show that Syed had been in the area of the park where Lee was buried.
However, the credibility of Syed's cellphone records as reliable evidence has since been questioned.
The post-conviction investigation by Syed’s lawyers also found evidence implicating "alternative suspects" who have not been publicly named and both had "motive" to commit the crime.
Trail documents indicated that one of the individuals allegedly threatened Lee in front of another person, saying he would make her "disappear" and "kill her", reported the New York Times.
This evidence could have helped Syed at trial, but it was not in the defence’s files or in any of the pleadings that prosecutors produced.
The 41-year-old, a Muslim of Pakistani descent, will serve home detention while waiting on whether prosecutors will proceed with a new trial.