Adnan Syed is being released after 23 years in prison.
On Monday, September 19, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn overturned the 41-year-old's conviction for the 1999 murder of 18-year-old high schooler, Hae Min Lee, and ordered his release. The ruling comes after his case was the subject of the first season of "Serial," which was hosted by former Baltimore Sun reporter, Sarah Koenig, and kickstarted the true crime podcast boom nearly eight years ago, later leading to the acclaimed HBO docuseries, The Case Against Adnan Syed.
Citing the possible involvement of two other suspects and the discovery of new evidence from the state investigation into Lee's death that was not properly turned over to Syed's legal team, Phinn's decision to vacate the conviction follows last week's filing of a motion by Baltimore prosecutors requesting a new trial for Syed, who's been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment since his 2000 conviction.
That said, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby noted that prosecutors were "not yet declaring Adnan Syed is innocent,” but were unsure about "the integrity of the conviction" and had determined he was entitled to a new trial "in the interest of fairness and justice." They now have 30 days to decide whether to retry or dismiss his case to "certify his innocence." During this time, they will await new DNA analysis and Syed will be required to wear an ankle monitor.
Syed's original conviction stemmed from the discovery of Lee's body, which was buried in Baltimore's Leakin Park. At the time, law enforcement officials said they believed that Syed — Lee's ex-boyfriend — had strangled her in a car after she broke up with him. Syed was 17 at the time of his arrest. He has always maintained his innocence.
You can read the New York Times' full report on Syed's overturned conviction here.
Photo via Getty / Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun / Tribune News Service