After a Baltimore Circuit Court judge overturned the murder sentence of Adnan Syed on Monday, he ordered that he be released from custody and placed under house arrest under the supervision of a private company.
Judge Melissa Finn told exactly what Syed, who is still indicted in the 1999 murder of Hee Min Lee, is allowed to do, while city prosecutors determine next month whether the 41-year-old can kill his high school ex-girlfriend. Whether to try again in death or drop charges.
Syed, ALERT Inc. , which is one of a handful of private home detention companies operating in Maryland. Per Finn’s order, Syed is allowed to leave his family home in Baltimore County to do the following:
- work or look for employment.
- Meet his lawyer.
- Attend “individual or family therapy appointments.”
- Meet alert personnel.
The precise terms of Syed’s home detention make more reference to his comparatively honorable release from custody on Monday, which came after city prosecutors moved to vacate his sentence.
Prosecutors are unwilling to say that Syed is innocent, but in asking to undo the conviction, cited the results of a nearly year-long review of the case conducted with his defense counsel.
Prosecutors said the investigation revealed two alternate suspects in Lee’s murder, who were known to officers who investigated the murder but did not disclose it in or after Syed’s defense. City prosecutors said the lack of disclosure was a serious violation of the law, and prevented Syed from getting a fair trial. Along with the discredited evidence used against Syed in the trial, prosecutors said the issues raised were enough to cast doubt on the integrity of his guilty search.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, whose office represented the state in Syed’s various appeals, disputed that the information was withheld from the defense within hours after Syed’s sentence was overturned. His public comments about the matter have sparked an edgy and public back-and-forth with Mosby.
In their motion, Mosby’s prosecutors requested the release of Syed until they had made a decision on whether to proceed.
In court on Monday, Finn agreed.
He ordered Syed to be released immediately: Elijah E. Officers untie him in his courtroom and attached a GPS ankle monitor before walking down the steps of Cummings Courthouse, to cheers from supporters who likely learned of his case from the hit podcast “Serial.” Released in 2014 and downloaded millions of times.
The monitor tied to Syed’s ankle came from private home detention company ALERT.
Founded in 1985, the business’s website claims it tracks customers “with far more security than a traditional probation system”. The company says it cooperates with the court to determine what activities a person ordered on house arrest is allowed to do, and notifies the judge if the person violates the terms of their release. If so, house arrest is handed over.
Unlike home detention overseen by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, people on private home detention have to pay for it. Maryland law states that the state must set aside federal funds to pay for home detention for people who qualify for it but cannot afford an attorney.
Reached briefly by phone, Alert’s president and executive director Tim Schlouch did not comment. Later he could not be contacted.
Private home detention companies are licensed by the state Department of Corrections and audited by the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards at least once every two years, state agency spokesman Mark Vernarelli said in an email.
“Companies will also have to submit certain information and reports to the courts,” Varnarelli said.
With his sentence overturned, Syed, who has maintained his innocence since the age of 17, finds himself in an unusual legal bond: free from prison or prison for the first time in 23 years, still facing charges. – premeditated murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment – which initially put him behind bars.
Finn set a deadline of 30 days from his decision on Monday for prosecutors to drop the charges or set a new trial date. The state attorney’s office said its decision rested on the ongoing investigation of alternate suspects as well as ordering additional DNA tests in March of evidence gathered in Lee’s death.
As per the law, Syed is the person who has been charged with murder who is awaiting trial. According to many legal experts, pending trial for violent crimes serious people like murder are never released before trial.
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Lawyer Andrew I. Alperstein said, “I have released people for pre-trial charges of murder, but this is rare.” “But there is nothing normal in his case at this point.”
Alperstein was one of five defense attorneys who reviewed The Baltimore Sun’s order. Lawyers said the house arrest order was pretty standard, if there was some leniency.
Defense attorney Donald Wright said judges in the past have allowed their clients to work in existing jobs.
“I’ve never seen them able to go and leave looking for a job,” Wright said.
He described the final terms of Finn’s order as “unusual” in Syed’s case.
At Alert’s discretion, Finn’s order said, Syed is allowed no more than four hours of “personal time” in a week for “shopping, banking and personal hygiene and grooming”. Such works should be coordinated with alerts ahead of time.
“No window shopping allowed,” the Finn order said.