Adnan Syed, who at age 18 was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison, had his conviction overturned by a judge in Baltimore. In 1999, Lee’s body was discovered in Leakin Park in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed will be released on home detention, as decided by Judge Melissa Phinn.
In a request submitted last week, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office claimed that new evidence pointed to two additional suspects. Prosecutors have claimed that this fact necessitates a new trial.
In their current move, prosecutors asked the judge to overturn Syed’s conviction without claiming he was innocent of the murder. As a result, they claim to have doubts about “the integrity of the conviction.”
Who Is Adnan Syed?
Adnan Syed, who was born on May 21, 1981, gained fame as a result of his involvement in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Lee’s body, at 17 years old, was discovered in a shallow burial in a Baltimore park in 1999.
The prosecution claimed at the time that Syed, a talented and well-liked student, had strangled Lee out of anger after she had dumped him. Syed was only 18 at the time. Syed, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, was found guilty of first-degree murder in May 2001, despite his denials at the time of his arrest in February 2000.
When Did He Get out Of Jail?
In the end, Syed received a sentence of life in jail plus 30 years for Lee’s murder. He has tried unsuccessfully to get his conviction reversed since his conviction. After an appeals court overturned his conviction in 2018 on the grounds that he had gotten insufficient legal representation, the highest court in Maryland reversed the ruling in 2019 and denied him a new trial.
In the same year, the true-crime podcast Serial detailed his case, drawing widespread attention by exposing flaws in the police investigation. When it seemed as though Syed’s legal team had exhausted all options, they filed a motion in March 2022 asking for further DNA testing of Lee’s clothing, shoes, and rape kit; the request was granted.
Whose Attention This Choice Has Garnered?
An unopposed motion obtained by PEOPLE states that DNA testing has never been performed on the aforementioned objects, suggesting that cutting-edge science could finally exonerate Syed. Defense attorney Erica J. Suter told the reporters, “We are eager to finally gain access to the forensic tools to show Mr. Syed’s innocence.”
“Mr. Syed has waited for over two decades to finally have his day in court to prove his innocence. We commend the State’s Attorney for finally agreeing to DNA testing after months of deliberation and analysis, saying, “We have major concerns about this case.” Kim Kardashian, who passed the “baby bar” exam in August 2021, is just one celebrity whose attention this choice has garnered since it went viral. She shared an Instagram story screenshot from PEOPLE’s story, “Can you believe they didn’t even test the DNA? Adnan Syed can celebrate this victory.” The timing of the DNA analysis is currently unknown.
What Happens with Adnan Syed’s Freedom?
On September 19, 2022, a judge overturned Syed’s murder conviction and ordered a fresh trial for the defendant after prosecutors in Baltimore, Maryland petitioned the court to do so. In light of this new development, Syed will be released from jail and given home detention. Although the prosecution has not claimed that Syed is innocent, the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby told The Wall Street Journal,
“… for all the reasons set forth below, the State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction.” The request was made after new evidence emerged in a nearly year-long investigation, which included the possibility of two new suspects. Two suspects were reportedly identified during the original inquiry in 1999, but they were not adequately ruled out by prosecutors. Prosecutors discovered a court document during their investigation that contained an interview with one of the suspects.
The Defendant Allegedly Informed Police
The defendant allegedly informed police, that “he would make her [Ms. Lee] disappear,” according to the court document. Even though the defendant claimed in court that “he would kill her,” the defense was never given such a confession. Additionally, it was mentioned that the defense was not informed that Lee’s automobile was discovered in a grassy area behind one of the suspect’s houses.
“Prosecutors argued in the court filing that the defendant did not have access to this evidence during his trial in 2000, despite the fact that it “would have supplied strong support substantiating the argument that another individual was responsible for the victim’s death.” Mosby said, “… After evaluating the evidence and the additional information about alternative possibilities, it is our job to ensure that justice is done.” Whether Syed will remain in detention until after the possible retrial is unclear.
She went on to say, “We believe that keeping him jailed as we continue to examine the matter with everything that we know today, and when we do not have faith in the results of the first trial, would be unjust.”
What About Adnan, Did He Have an Alibi Witness?
Syed’s new legal team has filed various petitions and addressed multiple questions during the initial trial and investigation, such as the fact that an alibi witness was supposedly not called to testify. At trial, one of his friends testified that he had witnessed the murder and that he and Syed had gone to the park together to bury Lee’s body. However, according to the BBC, another student, Asia McClain, testified that she had seen Syed in the library in Woodland, Maryland, on the afternoon of Lee’s disappearance. But despite all this evidence, she was never even invited to testify.
The judge on the Court of Appeals, Clayton Greene, said of this omission, “There is not a significant or substantial possibility that the verdict would have been different” if Syed’s attorney had presented the alibi witness, Asia McClain, who said she saw Syed around the time the state contended Syed killed Lee on January 13, 1999. “Ms. McClain would have been an alibi witness who contradicted the defendant’s own assertions, which were already internally inconsistent; thus Ms. McClain’s proffered evidence might have further weakened Mr. Syed’s credibility,” the court wrote.
According to the appeals court, Lee went missing on that day, and McClain’s story only covered “a short window of time in the afternoon.” According to the document, her testimony “would have highlighted Mr. Syed’s failure to account exactly for his whereabouts after school” on that day but “would not have rebutted the state’s evidence about Mr. Syed’s actions that evening.”
Why Does Everyone Keep Asking Me About This Serial Podcast by Sarah Koenig?
Serial, a podcast created by Sarah Koenig and released in 2014, brought attention to Syed’s case. As a result of airing previously unknown evidence, the show gained an audience of millions. New York City-based journalist Koening raised doubt on his conviction by investigating the murder case for her popular podcast. She exposed holes in the prosecution’s case and cast doubt on the competence of his defense attorney, the multiple sclerosis sufferer Maria Gutierrez.
In addition, Koenig presented evidence implicating Ronald Lee Moore, not Syed, as the murderer. In April of 2015, Serial was awarded the Peabody Prize and became the first podcast in iTunes history to reach five million downloads in that time. In the process of debunking the case against Lee’s ex, the cult podcast became the quickest podcast ever to reach five million downloads, and millions of listeners played detective from the comfort of their own homes.
A TV dramatization of the 1999 murder tragedy was an obvious choice; until the podcast, the subject had been relegated to the dustbin of forgotten local US news. In 2016, after Syed’s attorney (who had died in 2004) failed to contact an alibi witness and gave poor representation, a lower court ordered a new trial; however, the state appealed. The lower court’s finding from last year was affirmed by the special appeals court, and the state successfully challenged that decision as well.