US judge overturns Adnan Syed’s murder conviction in the “Serial” podcast

After a session at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse, a judge overturned Adnan Syed's 2000 guilty verdict and ordered a new trial. 

On Monday, a court in the US state of Maryland overturned Pakistani-American Adnan Syed’s murder conviction from 2000 after prosecutors claimed there were serious flaws in the case, including the failure to disclose to the defence two more potential suspects in the death of his ex-girlfriend.

When questions about his guilt were raised by the podcast “Serial,” the case received widespread attention.

Hae Min Lee was 18 years old when she was killed and dumped in a Baltimore park in 1999. Syed, who is now 42, has consistently maintained his innocence and denied killing her.

Syed was currently serving a life sentence in prison when Judge Melissa Phinn of the Circuit Court in Baltimore issued an order for his parole, home confinement, and scheduling of a new trial.

Though he remained silent, Syed exited from the courthouse grinning as spectators applauded.

After a year-long inquiry undertaken with a public defender defending Syed, the state’s attorney for Baltimore filed a request to overturn the conviction on Wednesday. During this investigation, various issues with eyewitnesses and trial evidence were discovered.

The prosecution informed the court that while they had lost faith in “the integrity of the conviction,” they were not yet asserting Syed’s innocence and that justice required at the very least that Syed be given a new trial. They argued that Syed, who has been imprisoned for more than 20 years, should be let go while the inquiry was still ongoing and prosecutors considered whether to seek a new trial or charge a different suspect.

Authorities claimed to have discovered fresh information regarding two potential suspects, one of whom had made a murder threat against Lee and both of whom had a history of committing violent crimes against women. Although the original prosecutors were aware of their names, they did not reveal them to the opposition as stipulated by law.

Additionally, prosecutors determined that a crucial witness and the investigator who looked into the crime were untrustworthy. They also uncovered fresh evidence that contradicted the cellphone data that the prosecution had used in court to establish Syed’s presence at the crime scene.

The victim’s brother, Young Lee, testified in court that he and his family felt deceived by the prosecution’s decision to shift course after sticking by the conviction for so long.

In 2014, the case gained widespread notice thanks to the Chicago public radio station WBEZ’s “Serial” podcast.

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