Unreliable evidence releases Adnan Syed after 20 years in prison
A Baltimore judge gives the state 30 days to decide whether Syed needs a new trial or to dismiss the case altogether.
A US judge has ordered the release of Adnan Syed, who has maintained his innocence since 1999, after overturning his conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min lee, which is a case spoken of in detail in the Serial podcast.
Melissa Phinn, the circuit court judge, ordered home detention for Syed with monitoring through GPS, giving the state 30 days to decide whether Syed needs a new trial or to dismiss the case altogether. It's worth noting that Phinn also ruled that the state violated legal obligations to share evidence with Syed's defense, which led to the implications of the ruling.
“All right Mr Syed, you’re free to join your family," Phinn announced.
Phinn was met with cheering supporters and cameras outside the court, as he got into an SUV.
Lee, at 18, was strangled and murdered, after which her body was found buried in Leakin Park, Baltimore, in the February of 1999.
In December 1999, Syed's first trial ended in mistrial. In his second trial in February 2000, Syed was convicted of first-degree murder, sentenced to life in prison - now spending over 20 years locked behind bars.
The case gained popularity in 2014, when the Serial podcast, which is hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig, casted doubt over the evidence used against Syed. Koenig spent over a year looking into the case, reporting her findings in hour-long recordings.
In 2016, a Maryland judge also expressed doubts regarding the cellphone evidence used to convict Syed, suggesting that he should be tried again.
Lawyer and activist, Rabia Chaudry, whose brother also happens to be Syed's best friend, noted: “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.”
Prosecutors last week filed a motion saying that a prolonged investigation conducted with the defense unveiled new evidence that could erode the initial conviction.
State attorney Marilyn Mosby said investigators were waiting for "DNA analysis" results before deciding on whether a new trial should be sought, or whether to cancel out the case and "certify [Syed's] innocence."