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Judge orders release of ‘Serial’ podcast subject Adnan Syed

Prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to fully drop the charges against Syed or try him again for the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee

By Tomás Mier


Adnan Syed will be released from prison. On Monday, a Baltimore judge ordered the release of Syed — whose murder conviction was captured on the podcast Serial in 2014 — after prosecutors filed a motion to vacate his murder conviction earlier this year.

The judge in the case, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn, overturned the first-degree murder conviction and asked that he remain on GPS monitoring until a new trial date is set, according to the Baltimore Sun. Now, prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to fully drop the charges against Syed or try him again.

Following a years-long investigation, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office uncovered evidence and opened the possibility that two other suspects may have been to blame for the 1999 murder of Syed’s ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, earlier this month. (One of the alleged suspects is a serial rapist, according to the prosecutor. Their names have not been released.)

Though the prosecutors didn’t say Syed was innocent, the motion read that “the State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction.”

When he was originally sent to jail, Syed was accused of strangling Lee in his car after a breakup. She was found dead at Baltimore’s Leakin Park. Syed maintained his innocence while being featured on Serial back in 2014, with a witness saying they saw Syed at the school library when Lee disappeared, corroborating his version of the events.

That witness’ account was not called to the stand at Syed’s murder trial, resulting in numerous appeals where Syed asked for a new trial because his previous lawyer failed to provide him with competent representation. (She has since died.)

Syed was twice granted a new trial following Serial, only to have the state supreme court uphold the murder trial conviction; the U.S. Supreme Court also declined to review the case. However, new advances in DNA forensic testing allowed investigators to reexamine blood and fingernail evidence; none of the samples tested as a positive match to Syed, CBS News reported.

Following the news, the Serial podcast revealed on Twitter that its host Sarah Koenig was in the courtroom when his order was released and that it would release a new episode on Tuesday.

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