Serial podcast: Adnan Syed released from prison after US judge overturns murder conviction

A US judge on Monday overturned the conviction of a man who served more than 20 years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend – a case that has captured worldwide attention thanks to the hit ‘Serial’ podcast .
Judge Melissa Phinn overturned the conviction of 42, who has been serving a life sentence since 2000 for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, and ordered his release on his own recognizance pending a possible retrial.

Prosecutors had asked that the conviction be overturned following the discovery of “newly developed information regarding two alternate suspects”.

Mr. Syed has firmly maintained his innocence, but his multiple appeals have been rejected, including by the United States Supreme Court which in 2019 refused to hear his case.
In a surprise decision on Wednesday, Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she had asked a judge to overturn Mr. Syed’s conviction.

The decision was prompted by the discovery of “undisclosed and newly developed information regarding two alternate suspects, as well as unreliable cellphone tower data,” she said.

After prosecutors test DNA evidence in the Adnan Syed case.  Here's what they found.

Officials escort ‘Serial’ podcast subject Adnan Syed from the courthouse February 3, 2016, at the end of the first day of hearings for a new trial in Baltimore, Maryland. Source: AAP / (Photo by Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS/Sipa USA).

“Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and where the final evidence can be presented,” she added.

The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said it “is not asserting, at this time, that Mr. Syed is innocent”, but that it “lacks confidence in the integrity of the conviction”.

Mr Syed’s case attracted attention when it was picked up by ‘Serial’, a weekly podcast which saw a US journalist backtrack on his conviction and cast doubt on his guilt.

HBO New York premiere "The case against Adnan Syed" At PURE NON-FICTION

A view of the poster during the New York premiere of HBO’s ‘The Case Against Adnan Syed’ at Pure Non-Fiction on February 26, 2019 in New York City. Source: Getty / (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for HBO)

His case was also the subject of a four-part HBO documentary called “The Case Against Adnan Syed”.

The “Serial” podcast – a mix of investigative journalism, first-person narrative and dramatic storytelling – focused its first season on Syed’s story in 12 biting episodes.

Mr. Syed and Ms. Lee were both honored high school students and children of immigrant families – he Pakistani, she South Korean – who hid their relationship from their conservative parents.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Mr Syed was a ‘despised lover’ who felt humiliated after Ms Lee broke up with him.
Ms Mosby’s office said the reinvestigation into the case had “unveiled evidence regarding the possible involvement of two alternate suspects” which had “not been properly excluded or disclosed to the defence”.

Doubts have also been raised about the accuracy of the mobile phone data records which were used to determine Mr Syed’s whereabouts on the day of the murder, he added.