Twenty two years after Adnan Syed was found guilty of murdering his high school ex-girlfriend, he has been vacated of the original charges. This is, in part, thanks to the light shined on the case by the hit podcast Serial.
In 1999, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee was found murdered in Baltimore, Maryland. After a person submitted an anonymous tip to Pigs insinuating Syed was responsible, he was nicked.
One year later he was found guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and imprisonment of Lee.
Despite a mistrial and vague evidence, Syed was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years. For the last 22 years, Syed has maintained his innocence and tried to appeal his conviction to no success.
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But it wasn’t until 2014 when Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, decided to release a season dedicated to unravelling the complexities of the murder, trial, and conviction that doubt was cast over Syed’s conviction.
Across 12 episodes, Koenig reviled key evidence that changed the way people looked at Syed’s conviction.
Most jarring was the existence of an alibi witness named Asia McClain. She was never used in Syed’s defence because his lawyer failed to contact her.
Additionally, physical evidence collected at the crime scene was never DNA tested and questioned the reliability of evidence used against Syed’s cellphone tower records.
The podcast took off and became a huge hit, putting Syed’s case on the map and inspiring others to advocate for a retrial.
Syed’s story spawned another podcast called Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed, then a one-hour special on Discovery, two books written by Syed’s alibi witness and lawyer, and a four-part HBO series.
From 2015 to 2019, Syed and the state went through a back-and-forth appealing the decision for a retrial due to negligence by his lawyer. Ultimately he was not granted a new trial.
But now, citing Brady disclosure violations, Syed’s conviction has been vacated.
The judge granted him a new trial and his shackles were removed. The judge ordered him to be released under home detention while the investigation continues into Lee’s murder.
He was met by a roar of cheers as he walked down the steps of the courthouse and got into a waiting vehicle. Syed smiled and gave a peace sign to his supporters but did not make any comments.
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