Adnan Syed is free. The 41-year-old Baltimore man whose story was the subject of “Serial”, one of the first podcasts in the true-crime genre to go viral, was ordered released today by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn, who overturned his guilty conviction in the 1999 murder of his former high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
Sayed had been imprisoned in Maryland since he was 17-years-old and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars. But he had always claimed he was innocent, with his legal team arguing in recent years that potentially exculpatory evidence had been kept from his original defense.
That claim, and the case itself, became the focus of Serial, a podcast which ran for 12 episodes in 2014. It was eventually developed by HBO into a four-part TV series in 2019 called The Case Against Adnan Syed.
Today’s ruling came after the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office had already conceded that there were problems with Syed’s original trial.
Prosecutors said a yearlong investigation conducted alongside Syed’s attorney, Erica Suter, showed that authorities knew about at least one alternative suspect before his trial and withheld that information from his defense. Despite the developments, prosecutors said they are not prepared to declare Syed innocent.
Now, prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether they’ll refile charges against him. But that office is currently led by Marilyn Mosby, a lame duck after losing in last month’s Democratic primary. Mosby will exit office early next year and is facing federal charges against her in an unrelated fraud case, and her status could complicate the decision to hand off new charges to her successor.