A judge on Monday ordered the release of Adnan Syed, a Baltimore man serving a life sentence for a 1999 murder he says he did not commit, after overturning his conviction. His case was chronicled in the popular podcast “Serial.”
Syed, 42, was released to home confinement after serving more than 20 years in prison. Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn said she overturned his conviction “in the interest of justice,” according to Baltimore Sun reporter Lee Sanderlin. Prosecutors have not yet said whether they will seek a new trial or drop the charges against him.
Phinn’s decision to overturn his conviction follows a request from prosecutors last week. Syed had been convicted in the killing of his former high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park. Prosecutors cited a lack of confidence “in the integrity of the conviction” after completing a yearlong investigation with Syed’s attorneys.
Prosecutors said they weren’t asserting that Syed is innocent, but that they have uncovered new evidence that potentially links two previously known suspects to Lee’s murder. Evidence about those individuals, who were not identified, had been withheld from Syed’s defense attorneys during his trial, according to a motion filed by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.
His criminal case captured the attention of millions in 2014 when he became the focus of a hit podcast that raised doubts about the evidence presented against him, including cellphone tower data.
“Serial” podcast host Sarah Koenig was in the courtroom at the time of Syed’s ordered release. A new episode of the program will be released Tuesday morning, the podcast announced on Twitter.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.