Judge vacates Adnan Syed’s murder conviction, subject of ‘Continuous’ podcast

On Monday, Adnan Syed was released from prison for the first time since his teenage years in a stunning reversal after spending 23 years battling charges of murdering his former high school girlfriend. Case recorded in the first season of the hit podcast “Serial.”

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa M. Phinn vacated the conviction “in the interests of justice and fairness,” finding that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that could help Trump. Syed found new evidence at trial that could affect the outcome of his case.

Prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to proceed with a new trial or drop the charges against Mr. Syed, who was ordered into home detention until then. Prosecutors said an investigation identified two possible “surrogate suspects,” although they have not been publicly named or charged.

“At this time, we will lift the shackles of Mr. Saeed,” Judge Fein announced after her decision. After a while, sir. Said walked up the steps of the courthouse, smiling to the cheers of a crowd of supporters. With a slight wave of his hand, he climbed into a waiting car and said nothing to the reporters surrounding him.

gentlemen. Said, 41, was serving a life sentence for strangling high school classmate and ex-girlfriend Lee Hae-min, whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.

gentlemen. Said, who was 17 at the time, has maintained his innocence, and when “Serial” first aired in 2014, the question of whether he received a fair trial drew widespread attention. The podcast features episodes of 12 cases against Mr. Syed, including the peculiarities of his lawyer, who agreed to be disbarred in 2001 over a misconduct complaint and died in 2004.

In a motion filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court, prosecutors said a nearly year-long investigation was conducted with Mr. Syed’s lawyers have uncovered information that may involve two “surrogate suspects,” as well as key evidence that prosecutors may have failed to reveal to Syed. Said’s lawyers violated their statutory duties.

The investigation also found “significant reliability issues regarding the most critical evidence” used to convict. Syed, including cell tower data.

Prosecutors said in the motion that they did not assert Mr. Said is innocent. The state’s Baltimore Attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, said Monday that prosecutors are awaiting a DNA analysis to help determine whether Mr. Syed’s case will be dismissed or go to another trial.

Prosecutor for Ms. Becky Feldman. Mosby’s office said at the hearing that the investigation “acknowledges that justice has been denied to Ms. Lee and her family for failing to ensure that the correct attacker is brought to justice.”

Mrs. Lee’s family expressed concern that prosecutors did not give them enough notice of the move to drop the conviction. At Monday’s hearing, the family’s attorney, Steve Kelly, asked Judge Fein to delay a decision on the motion.

But Judge Fein denied the request, as did Ms. Lee’s brother, Young Lee, later joined the hearing on Zoom. Kelly called him at work.

“It’s not a podcast for me,” Mr. Li said in a shaky voice as he spoke in court. “This is real life — a never-ending nightmare for over 20 years.”

He said he felt “betrayed” and “blind” by the motion to evacuate, and was dismayed by the many turns in the case over the past two decades. “Whenever I think it’s over and it’s over, it always comes back,” Mr. Lee said, adding: “It killed me, it killed my mother.”

gentlemen. Said’s attorney, Erica J. Suter, said her client was shocked to come out of prison after spending most of her life behind bars.

“He said he couldn’t believe it was true,” the woman said. Suter said at a news conference. “Today was both happy and unbelievable.”

Mrs. Mosby moved out Mr. Saeed was convicted when she faced federal charges that she perjured herself to obtain funds from a retirement fund and made false statements on loan applications to buy two vacation homes in Florida. The case is ongoing. Her lawyers called the allegations “false.”

gentlemen. Said’s relationship with the woman was on and off. Lee, who were both students at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County at the time. Prosecutors speculated that he killed her after she started dating other people in December 1998.

Key evidence implicated in Mr Syed came from a friend and co-defendant, Jay Wilders, who testified that he had helped Mr. The body of Ms. Sybury Lee.

Prosecutors also used cellphone billing records to corroborate Mr. Testimony of Wilds and indicated that Mr. Said was in the area of ​​the park where the lady was. 18-year-old Lee was buried.

The jury found Mr. guilty. Said was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment in 2000. The Court of Appeal quashed Mr. Syed was convicted in 2018 and ruled he received invalid counsel, but the Maryland Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2019.

Mrs. Souter turned the case over to the lady. Mosby’s office made the request last year after Maryland passed a law that would allow people convicted of juvenile crimes to request an amendment to their sentence after serving 20 years in prison.

If Ms Mosby’s office said it considered the request, more evidence emerged, requiring prosecutors to conduct a deeper investigation.

Notably, the investigation identified two “surrogate suspects” who may have been involved together or individually and who were “persons known at the time of the investigation,” but were never excluded, prosecutors said. Both had “a motive and/or inclination to commit a crime,” they wrote.

Prosecutors did not name them, and close followers of the case have been speculating about who they are and whether they were mentioned in “the series” or in the HBO documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” which premiered in 2019. (In 2020, The New York Times Company acquired Serial Productions, the company behind the podcast.)

Prosecutors said a document they found in the trial files suggested that one of them had threatened the woman. Lee, in front of another man, said he would make her “disappear” and “kill her.”

Prosecutors also found another document in their trial file in which another person retweeted information “that could be seen as the same suspect’s motive to harm the victim.”

Evidence may be helpful to Mr. The motion said Syed did not appear on the defense’s file at the trial or in any pleadings that prosecutors produced for the defense.

The apparent failure to turn over documents may have violated the Supreme Court’s landmark 1963 ruling, a Brady v. motion that said Maryland required prosecutors to provide their opponents with any evidence that could be interpreted in the defendant’s favor.

Prosecutors’ investigation found one of two “substitute suspects” was convicted of assaulting a woman in the car, and one of them was convicted of serial rape and sexual assault. Mrs. Mosby’s office also revealed that Ms. Lee’s car was found behind the house of one of the family members.

In the motion, the prosecution questioned the cell phone data used to place Mr. Syed cited a notice on cell phone records near the burial site, noting that the billing location for incoming calls “will not be considered reliable location information.” Two experts they consulted agreed with this assessment.

“Mr. Syed’s conviction rests on the evolving narrative of a motivated, cooperating 19-year-old co-defendant and underpinned by inaccurate and misleading cell phone location data,” Ms. Sutter wrote in a court motion Wednesday that he was referring to Mr. wilderness. “It was like that in 1999, when Mr. Saeed was a 17-year-old. It is still the same today.”

Adam Bedner Reporting from Baltimore.

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