BALTIMORE — A decide 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 Courtroom Choose Melissa Phinn stated prosecutors made a compelling argument that Syed’s convicted was flawed.
Trial prosecutors didn’t correctly flip over proof to the protection that might have helped them present another person killed Lee, Phinn stated. And new proof uncovered for the reason that trial would have added “substantial and vital likelihood that the end result would have been totally different.”
Phinn vacated homicide, kidnapping, theft and false imprisonment in opposition to Syed. The decide ordered him launched with out bail.
Moments earlier than the ruling, prosecutor Becky Feldman stated that “justice and equity” requires Syed’s convictions to be tossed.
“The state has misplaced confidence within the integrity of this convection and consider that it’s within the curiosity of justice and equity that his convictions be vacated,” Feldman stated.
“It’s our promise that we are going to do every thing we will to deliver justice to the Lee household. Meaning persevering with to make the most of all accessible sources to deliver a suspect or suspects to justice and maintain them accountable.”
Syed, who has a full beard, appeared in courtroom carrying a long-sleeve white costume shirt, darkish tie and conventional Muslim cranium cap.
Maryland prosecutors final week requested that Syed’s conviction be vacated and a brand new trial be granted, gorgeous the sufferer’s household.
Lee’s brother, Younger Lee, fought again tears as he addressed the courtroom, 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 courtroom through 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 handle the courtroom.
The household wasn’t given sufficient time and did not have an legal professional to decide about showing in courtroom, in accordance with Kelly.
“To recommend that the State’s Legal professional’s Workplace has supplied ample discover below these circumstances is outrageous,” Kelly informed the courtroom.
“My shopper isn’t a lawyer and was not recommended by an legal professional 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 deal with the courtroom.
She ordered a 30-minute delay for the brother to get to pc so he might dial into the listening to.
“I’ve been residing with this for 20-plus years,” Lee stated. “Each day after I assume it’s over, at any time when I feel it’s over or it’s ended, it at all times 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 information that appeared to indicate Syed was within the neighborhood of the park the place Lee’s physique was discovered. However they now say they query “unreliable cellphone tower information” used in opposition to Syed at trial, and need to have a look at “two various suspects.”
“These suspects have been recognized individuals on the time of the investigation of the case and never correctly dominated out,” in accordance with final week’s submitting by prosecutors.
Syed’s authorized staff has insisted that the cellphone information used in opposition to 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 in opposition to 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.
It is a growing story, please refresh right here for updates.
Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed.