Baltimore prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges against Adnan Syed, whose legal legend gained international fame on the hit podcast “Serial.”
The move came abruptly last month after Saeed’s conviction for the 1999 killing of Lee Hae-min was overturned. However, his murder, kidnapping and robbery charges are looming, and the office of the city’s state attorney, Marilyn Mosby, is considering whether to dismiss his case or try him again after the death of his Woodlawn High school lover .
Mosby said her decision hinged on a new, final DNA test on evidence gathered from decades-old homicides. The DNA test results did not include Syed, the public defender’s office representing Syed said in a news release after his court appearance on Tuesday.
“Finally, Adnan Syed was able to live as a free man,” Syed’s lawyer Erika Sut said in a statement. “The DNA results confirm what we already know and the basis of all current lawsuits: Adnan is innocent and has lost 23 years of his sentence for a crime he did not commit.”
Suter, who is also director of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore Law School, worked with the city attorney on the year-long investigation. Together, the lawyers found two people they now believe to be surrogate suspects in Li’s death. They said the two suspects had been known to authorities at all times, but at least one had not been disclosed to Syed’s defense.
The revelation led Mosby’s office to move to quash Saeed’s conviction, and her prosecutors said they had lost confidence in his guilty verdict. On Sept. 19, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Finn dismissed Syed’s conviction and set a 30-day deadline for Mosby’s office to decide how to handle Syed’s case. .
Mosby said last month that her decision on Syed’s case hinged on pending DNA testing of evidence in Lee’s killing. Analysis of the genetic material collected during the investigation into Li’s death was largely inconclusive and proved to be useless ahead of the final round of DNA testing in the case, the results of which were first released on Tuesday.
But Mosby, a second and final-term Democrat who served as the city’s top prosecutor, said she would be prepared to prove Syed’s innocence, qualifying him if the DNA test results were inconclusive or targeted. Apply to the state for wrongful conviction damages. to another suspect. She insists that her office will retry Syed if DNA indicates he was involved in the killing.
If she officially declares Syed innocent, he will receive significant financial benefits from the state for being wrongfully imprisoned for more than 20 years. Syed will receive nearly $2.2 million during his time in prison under the Walter Lomax Act. He is also entitled to five years of health care, housing and free tuition under state law.
In September, Phinn set a court date for October. 19, just a month after she dismissed Syed’s guilty verdict. The hearing in reception court on Tuesday morning was not recorded in online court records.
Mosby’s office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning, but the state’s attorney is expected to hold a news conference at 1 p.m.
After Syed’s conviction was overturned, Lee’s family appealed, saying Mosby’s office did not notify them in time for the hearing. The family asked the Maryland Special Appeals Court to suspend the circuit court proceedings while the court hears their appeal.
Just last week, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh joined Lee’s family in asking the state’s intermediate appeals court to suspend Syed’s case in the trial court.
Frosh has been critical of Mosby’s recent handling of the case after his office has repeatedly appealed for Syed on behalf of the state government. Frosh expressed doubts about the basis presented by the city attorney in support of overturning Syed’s conviction.
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It’s unclear what Tuesday’s developments mean for the family’s appeal.
Frosch declined to comment through a spokesman, while attorneys for Lee’s family did not respond to requests for comment.
Lee, 18, was strangled and buried in a secret grave in Leakin Park. About three weeks after she was last seen at high school, a man found her body. At the time, police and prosecutors suspected Syed had killed Lee because he was distraught over their breakup.
Said was tried in 1999 and 2000. The state’s case relies on witness testimony, cell phone call records and Syed’s own statements; there is little, if any, physical evidence linking him to the killing. The jury found him guilty of murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment after a second trial. The judge sentenced him to life imprisonment plus 30 years in prison.
Said, who had been behind bars for 23 years when he was arrested at age 17, was only released from the Elijah E. Cummings courthouse last month after being unshackled. He was placed under GPS surveillance until prosecutors decided how to proceed with his case.
This article will be updated.