Adnan Syed spent 23 years in prison for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a murder he may not have committed.
Prosecutors in Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office now have 30 days to decide whether they will drop the charges against Syed or retry him for Lee’s murder, The Baltimore Sun reported. In the meantime, Syed is out of prison on home detention and required to wear a GPS monitor.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn made the decision to overturn Syed’s murder conviction after doubts were raised about his guilt following the popular “Serial” podcast. Prosecutors had revealed there were other suspects, as well as concerns about the evidence used against him. A yearlong investigation involving prosecutors and Syed’s attorney, Erica Suter, discovered that authorities knew of at least one alternate suspect prior to Syed’s trial but withheld the information from his defense. This, the prosecutors and Suter argued, was known as a Brady violation.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, whose office represented the state during Syed’s appeals, argued that Syed’s release was wrong and that his office wasn’t consulted about the alleged violations.
“Neither State’s Attorney Mosby nor anyone from her office bothered to consult with either the Assistant State’s Attorney who prosecuted the case or with anyone in my office regarding these alleged violations,” Frosh said in a statement. “The file in this case was made available on several occasions to the defense.”
Lee was 18 years old when she was found strangled to death and buried in Leakin Park near Baltimore, Maryland, the Sun reported. Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend, who was 17 at the time of her killing, was alleged to have argued with her in a car before strangling her to death. Prosecutors alleged Syed committed the murder because he couldn’t handle Lee breaking up with him.
Syed, however, says he is innocent, and his attorney argued that he may not have spent 23 years in prison if prosecutors hadn’t withheld evidence.
“If that evidence had been disclosed, perhaps Adnan would not have missed his high school graduation, or his pre-med plans, or 23 years of birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, community events and everyday moments of joy,” said Suter, Syed’s attorney.
In 2014, the podcast “Serial” debuted, spending 12 episodes going over every detail of Syed’s case, leading many to wonder if he was, in fact, guilty. But as The New York Times reported, it wasn’t until this month that prosecutors actually recommended vacating his conviction and granting him a new trial, arguing that “the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction.”