Prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges against Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
Syed was previously released from prison last month after his conviction was overturned, and Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was given 30 days to decide whether she would drop the charges against Syed or retry him for Lee’s murder. On Tuesday, her office dropped the charges against Syed.
“This case is over. There are no more appeals necessary,” Mosby said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.
Mosby said she made her decision after DNA test results of Lee’s clothing and shoes were obtained using modern techniques that weren’t available at the time of Syed’s trial. Investigators were not able to recover usable DNA from Lee’s clothing, but DNA obtained from her shoes contained the DNA of multiple individuals – but not Syed’s.
Mosby also apologized to Lee’s family for the hurt they have felt for Syed’s wrongful conviction, which she maintained was not her administration’s fault. Still, she said, “as a representative of the institution, it is my responsibility to acknowledge and to apologize to the family of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed.”
She added that her office would “continue to utilize every available resource to prosecute whoever is responsible for the death of Hae Min Lee.”
Syed’s attorney, Erica Suter, praised Mosby’s decision.
“Today’s the day that Adnan Syed and his loved ones have been waiting for 23 long years,” Suter said on a call with reporters, according to the AP. “The results of the DNA testing excluded Adnan and confirm what Adnan and his supporters have always known: that Adnan Syed is innocent. The state of Maryland has dropped the charges. Adnan Syed is free.”
Syed spent 23 years in prison for the 1999 murder of Lee.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn decided to overturn Syed’s murder conviction in September after the popular “Serial” podcast raised doubts about his guilt. Prosecutors had revealed there were other suspects, as well as concerns about the evidence used against him. A yearlong investigation involving prosecutors and Suter, Syed’s attorney, 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.
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, has always maintained his innocence, 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,” Suter said.