Judge vacates conviction of ‘Serial’ subject Adnan Syed

Baltimore prosecutors filed motion last week seeking a new trial for Syed, who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment in connection with the murder of Hae Min Lee. Is.

In explaining her decision to vacate, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Finn cited material in the state investigation that was not properly provided to defense attorneys, as well as the existence of two suspects. which had been improperly cleared. Investigation.

Her decision was met with cheers and tears in the courtroom. Syed – who attended the hearing wearing a white button-down shirt, a dark tie and a Kufi cap – was not handcuffed, but his legs were. Following the verdict, officials untied his ankles, and soon after, Syed walked out of the courtyard to applaud and applaud supporters. He did not stop to talk to reporters as soon as he got into the vehicle.

“We are yet to declare Adnan Syed innocent,” Baltimore City State Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Monday after the judge’s ruling. “But we are declaring that in the interest of fairness and justice he deserves a new trial.”

Prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to conduct a new test, and they await DNA analysis as they try swiftly to determine whether Adnan’s case can be dismissed. given or the case is set up for trial. But that mandate, Mosby said, is “separate and separate” from the investigation into who killed Lee.

In the meantime, Syed will be wearing ankle monitors with tracking, according to Becky Feldman, head of the sentencing review unit of the Baltimore City State Attorney’s Office.

Twenty-three years after his prison term, “we now know what Adnan and his loved ones have always known, that Adnan’s trial was deeply and outrageously unfair. There was evidence hidden from him, evidence that would lead other people to murder.” Syed’s lawyer and director of the Innocence Project Clinic, Assistant Public Protector Erica Suter, said in a statement after the verdict.

The hearing comes nearly eight years after the “Serial” podcast dug into his case, raising questions about the sentencing and his legal representation. In doing so, the podcast reached a huge audience and sparked a true-crime podcasting boom as well as further investigation into the case, including the HBO documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”

He said in a news release last week that prosecutors moved to vacate Syed’s sentence after a nearly year-long investigation. At the time, Mosby said prosecutors were “not, at this time, insisting that Mr. Syed is innocent” but that the state “lacked confidence in the integrity of the convict” and that Syed should get a new trial.

Prosecutors said a re-examination of the case revealed evidence of the possible involvement of two suspects in addition to Syed, including a man who said they would “disappear” Lee and “(h)e kill him.” Will put,” prosecutors said. Syed’s lawyers said he and his legal team were unaware that the information existed until this year.

Defense lawyers praised the prosecution’s motion to falsify the conviction.

“Given the surprising lack of credible evidence implicating Mr. Syed, as well as mounting evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust punishment cannot remain,” Sutter said in a statement last week.

Maryland Public Defender Natasha Dartig in a news release called the case “a true example of justice delayed justice denied justice. An innocent man spends decades wrongfully imprisoned while any information or evidence that shows the real perpetrator’s identity.” can help identify, makes it harder to chase.”

What do we know about the case

Adnan and Lee were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County in January 1999 when she went missing. Three weeks later his strangled body was found in the forest of the city.

In March, Syed and prosecutors filed a joint motion for DNA testing after the conviction, saying that since the crime occurred more than two decades ago, “DNA testing has changed and improved significantly.”

The March resolution called for the victim’s clothing to be tested for touch DNA, which was not available at the time of testing. Mosby’s statement said the items being tested now were not tested in 2018 — when the Baltimore City Police Lab tested various items for DNA.

Mosby said the motion to vacate was filed with Becky Feldman, the head of the sentencing review unit. Syed was a juvenile when convicted.

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According to Mosby’s statement, the alternate suspects were known individuals at the time of the original investigation “and were not properly ruled out nor disclosed to the defense.”

The state is not disclosing the names of the suspects, but said that, according to the test file, one of them said, “He will make her (Ms. Lee) disappear. He will kill her.”

According to the statement, the investigation also revealed that a suspect was convicted of assaulting a woman in his vehicle. The second suspect was convicted of involvement in a series of rapes and sexual assault, the statement said.

Some of the information was available at the time of trial and some came to light later, the statement said. It is not clear when the attack happened.

The statement said Lee’s car was located “right behind the home of one of the suspect’s family members”.

Syed’s lawyers brought the matter to the notice of the Sentence Review Unit in April 2021.

Mosby’s statement said Syed’s lawyers “identified significant credibility issues with regard to the most important pieces of evidence at trial.”

A lawyer for Syed said in the 2019 HBO documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed” that his client’s DNA was not found in any of the 12 samples retrieved from the victim’s body and car. He was not part of the official investigation by the testing authorities. HBO, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros.

At trial, prosecutors relied on the testimony of a friend, Jay Wilds, who said he helped Syed dig a hole for Lee’s body. To corroborate their account, prosecutors presented cell phone records and expert witness testimony to place Syed at the location where Lee was buried.

CNN’s Lauren Koenig reported from Baltimore, while Dakin Andone and Eric Levenson wrote this story in New York. CNN’s Amy Simonson, Ray Sanchez and Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.

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