Speed Reads

Syed Set Free

Baltimore judge vacates murder conviction of Serial's Adnan Syed

A Baltimore judge has overturned the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, freeing him from prison after he served 23 years for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend in 1999, The New York Times reports.

The decision came after prosecutors filed a motion on Wednesday to vacate the conviction. The motion stated that after conducting a year-long investigation alongside Syed's defense team, "the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction" due in part to evidence that pointed to two other possible suspects. They did not assert his innocence, and the Times reports that they have yet to decide if Syed will be granted a new trial or if they will drop the charges altogether. The names of the two "alternate suspects" have not been publicly announced. 

Judge Melissa M. Phinn of Baltimore City Circuit found that the prosecution failed to give evidence to Syed's legal team that could have helped him during the trial. The judge also cited the new evidence discovered as a reason to vacate the convictions "in the interests of fairness and justice." Upon releasing Syed from jail, Judge Phinn ordered Syed to serve home detention for the next 30 days as prosecutors discussed whether they would hold a new trial or drop the charges.

Syed, now 41, was 17 when he was sentenced to life for allegedly strangling his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Her body was discovered buried in a Baltimore county park in 1999. Syed has maintained that he has been innocent for the last two decades, but attention to his case gained traction after he was the subject of the podcast Serial in 2014.