A Baltimore judge on Monday vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular “Serial” podcast, CNN reports.
Baltimore prosecutors last week filed a motion requesting a new trial for Syed, who was sentenced to life in prison in the 1999 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Syed had been convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Judge Melissa Phinn cited the fact that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence to defense attorneys in the case and the existence of two suspects who may have been wrongly cleared as part of the probe.
Phinn ordered Syed to be released but required him to wear an ankle monitor.
Twenty-three years after he went to prison, “we now know what Adnan and his loved ones have always known, that Adnan’s trial was profoundly and outrageously unfair. Evidence was hidden from him, evidence that pointed to other people as the killers,” Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter said Monday.
“We’re not yet declaring Adnan Syed is innocent,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Monday. “But we are declaring that in the interest of fairness and justice he is entitled to a new trial.”
Prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to pursue a new trial.
Prosecutors are waiting for a DNA analysis to determine whether Adnan’s case should be dismissed.
Mosby said in moving to vacate Syed’s conviction that prosecutors were “not asserting, at this time, that Mr. Syed is innocent” but that the state “lacks confidence in the integrity of the conviction.”
Lee’s family may appeal:
Lee’s family attorney said they are “still in shock” and considering filing an appeal.
“The family is principally interested in justice,” he said. “For the past 22 years the world and they have been told that Adnan Syed is the murderer of their daughter and sister Hae Min Lee. Now the court and prosecutors have a different view. The family seeks truth and a just process and result.”
Syed’s attorney argued that the ruling righted a wrong.
“Given the stunning lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with increasing evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust conviction cannot stand,” Suter said last week.