Judge Vacates Murder Conviction Of ‘Serial’s’ Adnan Syed

On Sept. 19, 2022, a Baltimore judge overturned Syed’s first-degree murder conviction of the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

September 19, 2022
Adnan Syed, center, leaves the Cummings Courthouse in Baltimore. A judge has ordered the release of Syed after overturning his conviction for a 1999 murder that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.”

Adnan Syed, center, leaves the Cummings Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Baltimore. A judge has ordered the release of Syed after overturning his conviction for a 1999 murder that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.”

Photo by: Brian Witte via AP

Brian Witte via AP

Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction was profiled in the popular podcast “Serial,” has always maintained his innocence in the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Now, more than 20 years later, a Baltimore judge has overturned his conviction and released him from prison.

18-year-old Hae Min Lee was last seen on Jan. 13, 1999, and her body was found strangled to death four weeks later on Feb. 9, 1999 in Leakin Park, Maryland. Her ex-boyfriend, then 17-year-old Syed, was arrested for the crime and sentenced to life in prison within a year. He was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.

As detailed by the hit podcast “Serial,” Syed’s conviction was largely based on the story of one witness: Jay, who testified that he helped Syed bury Lee’s body. After the success of the podcast, many people expressed concern that Syed was wrongfully convicted and wanted his case to be re-examined, including the likes of celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

While authorities had claimed Lee struggled in a car with Syed before her death, Syed's attorney, Rabia Chaudry, argued for that to be true, a killer would have to be “in close proximity to the victim.” According to documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun, in 2019, prosecutors tested items including fingernail clippings, a rope, blood samples, a liquor bottle, items of clothing, and a condom wrapper. None tested positive for Syed's DNA.

In 2021, the Baltimore state’s attorney said she no longer had confidence in Syed’s conviction. After a yearlong investigation with Syed’s lawyer, prosecutors fought to overturn his conviction “in the interests of justice and fairness,” and that, “at a minimum,” he be given a new trial.

After prosecutors and Syed’s lawyer filed motions questioning the integrity of the trial and evidence that has left him behind bars the past 23 years, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn overturned Syed’s first-degree murder conviction on Sept. 19, 2022, The Baltimore Sun reported.

According to The New York Times, prosecutors have 30 days to decide if they will seek a new trial or drop the charges against Syed, who was ordered to remain on GPS monitoring pending the decision.

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