Judge Vacates Conviction After Years And Years

Last week, a Baltimore judge approved a motion by prosecutors to vacate the murder conviction of Adnan Syed whose case was featured in the first season of the popular podcast “Serial” in 2014.

After a year-long investigation into the case, earlier this month, Baltimore prosecutors filed a motion requesting a new trial for Syed, who has been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment in the killing of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999.

In explaining her decision, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn noted that two other potential suspects in the crime may have been improperly cleared and that some relevant material in the case had been withheld from the defense at the time.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said after the judge’s ruling that the request for a new trial did not mean Syed is innocent.

Prosecutors have 30 days from the judge’s ruling to decide whether to retry the case. According to Mosby, they will wait for DNA analysis before deciding whether Syed’s case is dismissed or retried.

Eight years ago, the “Serial” podcast dug into Syed’s case, raising questions about his conviction and his legal defense. The episode’s popularity prompted further examinations of the case, including the HBO documentary series, “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”

During the reinvestigation, prosecutors found evidence about the possible involvement of two other individuals besides Syed, including one suspect who said he would make Hae Min Lee “disappear” and threatened to kill her.

Syed’s defense said they were not aware of that evidence at the time of the trial.

Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee were seniors at Baltimore County’s Woodlawn High School when she disappeared in January 1999. Her strangled body was found three weeks later in a city forest.

According to Mosby’s office, the other two suspects were persons of interest at the time and “were not properly ruled out” or “disclosed to the defense.”

One of the two suspects was convicted of attacking a woman in her vehicle. The other was convicted of engaging in serial rape and sexual assault.

According to Mosby’s office, Lee’s car was found “directly behind the house of one of the suspect’s family members.”