Serial subject Adnan Syed released from prison, murder conviction overturned
Judge Melissa M. Phinn of Baltimore City Circuit Court vacated the conviction "in the interests of fairness and justice," finding that prosecutors failed to disclose evidence regarding two alternative suspects, which could have affected the outcome of the case, per The New York Times.
Phinn ordered Syed to serve home detention and gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to move for a new trial or drop the case. Prosecutors moved to vacate the conviction last week, citing a yearlong investigation by the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office and the defense that revealed "undisclosed and newly developed information regarding two alternative suspects, as well as unreliable cell phone tower data."
The state's attorney's office and Syed's attorneys said prosecutors neglected to divulge the information about the suspects to Syed's legal counsel, thereby committing what is referred to as a Brady violation. While prosecutors did not concede that Syed is innocent, they said last week that they no longer had faith in his conviction.
Erica Suter, Syed's attorney and the director of the Innocence Project Clinic, said in a statement Sept. 14, "Given the stunning lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with increasing evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust conviction cannot stand. Mr. Syed is grateful that this information has finally seen the light of day and looks forward to his day in court."
Syed had been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. The case was explored in the first season of popular investigative podcast Serial. Syed and Lee were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County when Lee disappeared in January 1999. Her strangled body was discovered in a forest three weeks later. Syed, who was convicted in 2000, has maintained his innocence and been unsuccessfully appealing his conviction for years.
Serial announced Monday that host Sarah Koenig was at the courthouse when Syed was released, and that a new episode would drop Tuesday.
An attorney for Syed didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.