Adnan Syed: Judge to decide whether ‘Serial’ conviction will be vacated

Syed is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment in the 2000 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. He has maintained his innocence and has been appealing his convictions for years.

“After a nearly year-long investigation into the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is properly represented and can present his final evidence,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

The state will request that Syed be released on his own recognizance pending an investigation if a motion to vacate his conviction is granted.

“We believe that keeping Mr. Syed in custody while we continue to investigate the case with everything we know now, when we have no confidence in the results of the first trial, would be unfair,” Mosby said.

In an emailed statement to CNN, State’s Attorney’s Office spokesman Zy Richardson said a 2 p.m. hearing is set to discuss the motion, and “the judge may deny or grant Syed’s motion to vacate his conviction.”

The hearing comes nearly eight years after the “Serial” podcast delved into his case, raising questions about the conviction and his legal representation. In doing so, the podcast gained a large audience and led to a boom in true crime podcasting, as well as further studies of the case, including the HBO docuseries “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”

Defense attorneys praised the prosecution’s motion to vacate the conviction as correcting a wrong.

“Given the shocking lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, along with mounting evidence pointing to other suspects, this wrongful conviction cannot stand,” Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter, Syed’s attorney and director of the Innocence Project Clinic, said in a statement. .

In a news release, Maryland Public Defender Natasha Dartigue called the case “a true example of justice delayed and justice denied. An innocent man spends decades behind bars while any information or evidence that could help identify the real perpetrator becomes increasingly difficult to find. is.”

What we know about the case

Adnan and Lee were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County when they disappeared in January 1999. His strangled body was found three weeks later in a forest in the city.

Mosby said prosecutors “are not asserting at this point that Mr. Syed is innocent,” but that the state “does not have confidence in the integrity” and that Syed should get a new trial.

Syed and prosecutors in March filed a joint motion for post-conviction DNA testing, saying that since the crime occurred more than two decades ago, “DNA testing has changed and improved dramatically.”

The March motion asked for contact DNA analysis on the victim’s clothing, which was not available at the time of trial. The items being tested now had not been previously tested in 2018 — the Baltimore City Police Laboratory tested several items for DNA — except for the victim’s nail clippings, Mosby’s statement said.

Mosby said the motion to dismiss was filed with Becky Feldman, head of the Sentencing Review Unit. Syed was a minor when he was tried.

The Supreme Court has refused to review the murder case depicted in 'Serial'.  the podcast

Alternative suspects were known at the time of the original investigation “and were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defense,” according to Mosby’s statement.

The state is not releasing the names of the suspects, but said, according to the court filing, one of them said, “He would do it. [Ms. Lee] disappear He would kill her.”

The investigation revealed that a suspect was convicted of assaulting a woman in his vehicle, the release said. The second suspect was convicted of serial rape and sexual assault, the statement said.

Some of the information was available at the time of the trial, the statement said, and some came to light later. It is not clear when these attacks took place.

Lee’s car was “located directly behind the home of a family member of the suspect,” the statement said.

Syed’s lawyers presented the case to the sentencing review unit in April 2021.

Syed’s attorneys “identified significant reliability issues regarding the most critical evidence at trial,” Mosby’s statement said.

In the 2019 HBO docuseries “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” a lawyer for Syed said his client’s DNA was not found in 12 samples taken from the victim’s body and car. That test was not part of the authorities’ official investigation. HBO, like CNN, Warner Bros. It is a unit of Discovery.

At trial, prosecutors relied on the testimony of a friend, Jay Wilds, who said he helped Syed dig a hole in Lee’s body. To corroborate his account, prosecutors presented cell phone records and expert testimony to place Syed Lee where he was buried.