Adnan Syed case: DNA results loom as state faces deadline to retry Serial podcast subject for murder

Adnan Syed gets new trial

Adnan Syed walked out of court a free man on Monday after two handwritten notes featuring the name of another potential suspect was discovered earlier this year, it has been revealed.

Serial, the podcast which propelled the case to global attention and first raised doubts about Mr Syed’s conviction, released a new episde on Tuesday revealing what finally led Baltimore prosecutors to rethink the 41-year-old’s conviction for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

In the episode, journalist Sarah Koenig said that “messy” notes which languished in statet trial boxes for more than two decades revealed that two different people had placed two separate phone calls alerting prosecutors to the unnamed suspect prior to Syed’s 2000 conviction.

The notes were not shared with Mr Syed’s legal team – something the judge agreed was a Brady violation.

On Monday, Judge Melissa Phinn overturned Mr Syed’s conviction and ordered him to be released – after 23 years behind bars.

Prosecutors now have 30 days to decide whether they will fully drop the charges or retry the case.


Voices: Adnan Syed’s conviction should have been thrown out a long time ago

Twenty-two years ago, Adnan Syed was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Lee, a student in Baltimore County, Maryland, was 18 years old when she went missing in January 1999. She was found dead of manual strangulation in February of that year. Syed, who was 17 at the time of Lee’s death, was charged with her murder later that month; he was convicted a year later and sentenced to life in prison.

Syed’s case came to renewed attention in 2014, with the launch of Serial, the podcast that changed the face of true-crime programming and cast doubt on the solidity of Syed’s conviction.

Over the course of 12 episodes, journalist Sarah Koenig, the show’s host, pointed to weaknesses in the evidence used against Syed, as well as remaining idiosyncrasies and blurry areas. If there is one central theme to Serial’s first season (the show had two more, dedicated to other topics), it’s doubt — a crucial factor, considering that the US justice system dictates that one should only be convicted of a criminal offense if the jury believes they are guilty “beyond reasonable doubt.”

The Independent’s Clémence Michallon discusses the case:


Timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee and legal battle of Adnan Syed

More than two decades on from his arrest for the murder of his former girlfriend, Adnan Syed is set to finally walk free from prison.

On Monday, ​​Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn threw out the 41-year-old’s conviction and granted him a new trial, ordering his release after spending the last 23 years behind bars.

Syed, who was 17 when he was accused of killing Hae Min Lee, will be released from prison today.

Syed’s sudden release marks just the latest twist in a legal battle that has rumbled on for more than two decades – and during which he has always maintained his innocence.

Read a timeline of the case so far:


How one podcast changed the face of true crime

Eight years ago, a new sound hit the airwaves. It was minimalist, just a few notes on a piano, layered with an audio recording of a phone call coming from prison. Then, two voices: that of Adnan Syed, a man who at that point had spent 14 years behind bars, and that of Sarah Koenig, a journalist who had spent a year trying to figure out whether he belonged there.

Serial’s first season aired over just two months, but it marked the beginning of a saga that remains ongoing – and recently reached a high point when a Baltimore judge granted prosecutors’ request to vacate Syed’s conviction and give him a new trial. That in itself is a momentous development, and Serial’s impact has been felt beyond Syed’s case.

The Independent’s Clémence Michallon has the full story:


Serial host says Syed’s case involves ‘just about every chronic problem’ in justice system

The host of the Serial podcast has said that Adnan Syed’s case involves “just about every chronic problem” in the criminal justice system.

Journalist Sarah Koenig released a new episode in the series on Tuesday – one day after Syed walked out of court a free man following the vacating of his murder conviction.

In it, Ms Koenig pointed out that almost all of the evidence which casts doubt on his conviction was available back when Hae Min Lee was murdered in 1999.

“Yesterday, there was a lot of talk about fairness, but most of what the state put in that motion to vacate, all the actual evidence, was either known or knowable to cops and prosecutors back in 1999,” she said at the end of the episode.

“So even on a day when the government publicly recognizes its own mistakes, it’s hard to feel cheered about a triumph of fairness. Because we’ve built a system that takes more than 20 years to self-correct. And that’s just this one case.”


Watch moment Adnan Syed walks out of court a free man

Adnan Syed walked out of the court in Baltimore to cheers after the judge overturned his 2000 murder conviction on Monday.

Watch the moment he left the courthouse a free man below:

Adnan Syed walks out of courthouse after request to vacate 2000 murder conviction granted by judge


Adnan Syed was losing ‘hope’ in freedom before shock release

Adnan Syed had been “trying to tamp down hope” that he would ever regain his freedom, before his shock release on Monday, it has been revealed.

In a new episode of the podcast Serial, Sarah Koenig revealed that the 41-year-old had recently been losing faith that his conviction would be overturned.

Syed was 17 when he was arrested and charged with strangling Hae Min Lee to death in 1999.

He had spent the last 23 years behind bars.

On Monday, a judge overturned his conviction and ordered his release.


Hae Min Lee’s brother says case is ‘killing me’

Hae Min Lee’s brother addressed the court during Monday’s hearing to speak out about the toll the case is taking on him and his family, saying that it is “killing me”.

Young Lee joined the court hearing virtually from the West Coast where he urged the judge to “make the right decision”.

“I’ve been living with this for like 20 plus years. Everyday when I think it’s over… or it’s ended, it always comes back,” he said.

“It’s killing me. It’s really tough.”

He added that he felt “betrayed” by the prosecution, claiming they blindsided the family by casting doubt on Adnan Syed’s guilt – after spending more than two decades insisting he was the killer.

Mr Lee choked back tears as he said that he was open to a new investigation and spoke of the difficulty in learning that someone responsible for his sister’s death could currently be walking free.


What we know about two alternate suspects in 1999 murder

Adnan Syed walked out of court a free man on Monday, after an almost year-long investigation uncovered new evidence about the possible involvement of two alternative suspects in the 1999 slaying of student Hae Min Lee.

On Monday, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn vacated the 41-year-old’s conviction “in the interest of justice”, granted him a new trial and ordered him to be released under home detention while the investigation into Lee’s murder continues.

His release came days after Maryland prosecutors made a bombshell request for his conviction to be quashed.

On Wednesday – after more than two decades behind bars where Syed has continued to maintain his innocence of any involvement – Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a motion to throw out his conviction.

She said that “the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction” based on doubts about the validity of cellphone records as well as new information about two unnamed suspects.

Wednesday’s court filing did not name the two alternate suspects in the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

However, prosecutors said that the two alternate suspects were both known to the initial 1999 murder investigation and were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defence.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


New DNA testing under way

The state is waiting for the results of DNA testing which they hope could advance the investigation, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said on Monday.

In March, prosecutors and Adnan Syed’s defence attorneys filed a joint request for Hae Min Lee’s clothing to be tested using new touch DNA testing, which was not available at the time of the original trial.

The analysis came back in August without anything conclusive.

But, Ms Mosby said on Monday that further testing is under way.

She added that if the tests come back with Syed’s DNA, then her office would pursue a new case against him.

But, either way, he is still entitled to a new, fair trial, she said – after pointing out multiple issues with his original case.


Moving video shows Adnan Syed enjoying food with family at home

A moving video has captured Adnan Syed enjoying food at his family home not long afte his release on Monday.

The footage, posted on Twitter by family friend and attorney Rabia Chaudry, shows the 41-year-old searching through the fridge in the home, looking for food.

Syed is seen taking out samosas and dumplings while his brother Yusuf stands next to him, happily grabbing and sharing the food.

“We got fresh samosas coming though,” Ms Chaudry is heard saying.

Syed is seen trying a dumpling and smiling, after two decades of prison food.

“Pretty good,” he says.

Ms Chaudry captioned the post: “Leftovers at home never tasted so good!!”

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