A Baltimore judge has ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning his conviction for the 1999 murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
Syed was jailed when he was just 17 years old back in 2000 and is now set to be released after more than two decades spent in prison.
Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered the conviction to be vacated after ruling the state had violated its legal obligation to share exculpatory evidence with Syed’s defence.
Syed will now be placed on home detention with GPS monitoring.
Adnan Syed leaving courthouse pic.twitter.com/JFojv3TBDW— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) September 19, 2022
The State has 30 days to decide whether to seek a new trial or dismiss the case.
CNN reports that the judge’s ruling had been met by cheers and tears in the courtroom as Syed’s ankles were uncuffed.
"All right Mr. Syed, you’re free to join your family," Judge Phinn said as the hearing ended, as per CNN.
Syed walked out of the courthouse to applause from supporters as he made his way past reporters and into a waiting car.
The judge ruled that the State had violated its Brady obligation, which is a legal precedent that dictates that all evidence in the defence’s favour must be handed over to prosecutors in aim for a fair trial.
We did it.— rabia O'chaudry (@rabiasquared) September 19, 2022
We FREED ADNAN! pic.twitter.com/4gYH8qQ3Ar
Adnan Syed is being released after 22 YEARS!! This is absolutely incredible news. Congratulations to @rabiasquared and all of the folks who worked tirelessly on his case. EXTRAORDINARY NEWS!— Eliza Orlins (@elizaorlins) September 19, 2022
The now-41-year-old has always maintained his innocence, with his case shooting to widespread attention in 2014 following Sarah Koenig’s podcast Serial.
The first season of the podcast series focused on Lee’s killing and raised doubts over the evidence used by prosecutors in the case.
Last week, a motion was filed to vacate the conviction of Syed after a lengthy investigation found various flaws that undermined the conviction.
The motion was prompted by the discovery of 'undisclosed and newly-developed information regarding two alternative suspects, as well as unreliable cell phone tower data', Maryland State Attorney Marilyn Mosby said, as per The Journal.
Two other suspects were also never ruled out for Lee’s death.
You can simultaneously be happy that Adnan Syed is coming home and demand that Hae Min Lee's killer should be found & that her family finally finds peace. Both, in fact, are connected. This was an utter failure of the criminal justice system. They imprisoned the wrong man.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) September 19, 2022
The motion filed last week states that one of the suspects told Lee that 'he would make her disappear. He would kill her', according to the Wall Street Journal.
This does not mean the prosecutors have claimed that Syed is innocent, but that the conviction is unjust when not all evidence had been presented.
Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter, Syed’s attorney and director of the Innocence Project Clinic, said in a statement last week: “Given the stunning lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with increasing evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust conviction cannot stand.”
Lee was just 18 years old when her body was discovered partially buried in Leakin Park, a woodland in Baltimore, Maryland.
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