Choose tosses conviction of Adnan Syed in ‘Serial’ case and orders him launched

BALTIMORE — A choose on Monday vacated the homicide conviction of Adnan Syed, years after the hit podcast “Serial” chronicled his case and solid doubt on his function within the slaying of former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

Metropolis Circuit Court docket Choose Melissa Phinn stated prosecutors made a compelling argument that Syed’s convicted was flawed.

She vacated homicide, kidnapping, theft and false imprisonment towards Syed. The choose ordered him launched with out bail.

Syed, who has a full beard, appeared in court docket sporting a long-sleeve white costume shirt, darkish tie and conventional Muslim cranium cap.

Maryland prosecutors final week requested to vacate Syed’s conviction and for a brand new trial, saying they lacked “confidence within the integrity” of the decision.

Lee’s brother, Younger Lee, fought again tears as he addressed the court docket, questioning how this flip of occasions unfolded.

“That is actual life, of a by no means ending nightmare for 20-plus years,” the brother informed the court docket by way of Zoom.

Steve Kelly, a lawyer for Lee’s household requested Phinn to delay Monday’s proceedings by seven days so the sufferer’s brother might attend and tackle the court docket.

The household wasn’t given sufficient time and did not have an lawyer to decide about showing in court docket, in response to Kelly.

“To recommend that the State’s Lawyer’s Workplace has offered enough discover beneath these circumstances is outrageous,” Kelly informed the court docket.

“My shopper isn’t a lawyer and was not recommended by an lawyer as to his rights and to behave accordingly.”

However Phinn stated the household, represented by Lee’s brother in California, might simply bounce on a Zoom to handle the court docket.

She ordered a 30-minute delay for the brother to get to pc so he might dial into the listening to.

“I’ve been dwelling with this for 20-plus years,” Lee stated. “On daily basis once I suppose it’s over, at any time when I believe it’s over or it’s ended, it all the time comes again.”

Lee was 18 when she was killed in 1999 and her physique discovered buried in Baltimore’s Leakin Park.

After Syed, now 42, was sentenced to life behind bars in 2000, his case gained nationwide notoriety from the 2014 podcast “Serial.”

Prosecutors had relied on cellphone data that appeared to point out Syed was within the neighborhood of the park the place Lee’s physique was discovered. However they now say they query “unreliable cellphone tower knowledge” used towards Syed at trial, and need to take a look at “two different suspects.”

“These suspects have been recognized individuals on the time of the investigation of the case and never correctly dominated out,” in response to final week’s submitting by prosecutors.

Syed’s authorized workforce has insisted that the cellphone knowledge used towards him was unreliable as a result of service AT&T had stated it solely decided the place outgoing calls have been coming from, not incoming calls. The mobile proof used at trial towards Syed centered on his cellphone receiving incoming calls, that means his basic location across the time of Lee’s disappearance couldn’t be verified.

Syed’s protection has additionally lengthy questioned a key account by the couple’s schoolmate, Jay Wilds, who testified that he was with Syed when he buried her physique on the park.

Julia Jester reported from Baltimore and David Ok. Li from New York Metropolis.

This can be a growing story, please refresh right here for updates.

Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed.

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