VIDEO: Conviction of Adnan Syed in 'Serial' podcast case is overturned, judge orders him released after killing his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Monday, September 19, 2022

VIDEO: Conviction of Adnan Syed in 'Serial' podcast case is overturned, judge orders him released after killing his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee

A judge on Monday vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, years after the hit podcast “Serial” chronicled his case and cast doubt on his role in the slaying of former girlfriend Hae Min Lee. (Read More Here).

City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn said prosecutors made a compelling argument that Syed's conviction was flawed and that he should immediately go free.

Trial prosecutors did not properly turn over evidence to defense lawyers that could have helped them show someone else killed Lee, Phinn said. And new evidence uncovered since the trial would have added “substantial and significant probability that the result would have been different.” 

Phinn vacated murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment against Syed. The judge ordered him released without bail.

Moments before the ruling, prosecutor Becky Feldman said that "justice and fairness" calls for Syed's convictions to be tossed.

“The state has lost confidence in the integrity of this convection and believe that it is in the interest of justice and fairness that his convictions be vacated," Feldman said. 

“It is our promise that we will do everything we can to bring justice to the Lee family. That means continuing to utilize all available resources to bring a suspect or suspects to justice and hold them accountable."

Syed, who has a full beard, appeared in court wearing a long-sleeve white dress shirt, dark tie and traditional Muslim skull cap.

Judge Phinn gave the state 30 days to decide whether to seek a new trial or potentially stop the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in 2019 for a new trial.

“Serial” podcast host Sarah Koenig was in the courtroom at the time of Syed’s ordered release. A new episode of the program will be released Tuesday morning, the podcast announced on Twitter.

Chaudry and others’ advocacy efforts have been instrumental in a number of legal actions in Syed’s case. In fact, his conviction was vacated once before, in 2018; it was reinstated a year later. In 2019, the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. But this year, in a bid to have his sentence reduced, prosecutors agreed with Syed to conduct new DNA tests on evidence collected in the original investigation.

Though prosecutors have agreed the system had failed Syed, a debate continues to rage over whether he is responsible for Lee’s death. Critics have accused Chaudry and Serial host Sarah Koenig of significant omissions and “cherry-picking” details in the case. On Reddit, the hub for lively true crime discussion and debate, factions of “guilters” and “innocenters” — and, later, conspiracy theorists — formed. Things became especially contentious after enterprising redditors obtained a trove of court documents — portions of which Chaudry and Koenig had not shared — that included details not previously made available to the public, which many considered incriminating.

Prosecutors — who have not said they believe Syed is innocent — now have 30 days to decide whether they will try him again or drop the charges. Given the amount of time Syed has already served, the spectacle of a third trial, and the resources a renewed investigation would demand, they may choose to let him walk free.

Prosecutors said they weren’t asserting that Syed is innocent, but that they have uncovered new evidence that potentially links two previously known suspects to Lee’s murder. Evidence about those individuals, who were not identified, had been withheld from Syed’s defense attorneys during his trial, according to a motion filed by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.

His criminal case captured the attention of millions in 2014 when he became the focus of a hit podcast that raised doubts about the evidence presented against him, including cellphone tower data.

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