Conviction Overturned in Murder Case Chronicled by the Hit Podcast 'Serial'
Adnan Syed is released from prison after his conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee was vacated by a Baltimore judge.
A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled in the hit podcast "Serial," a true-crime series that transfixed listeners and revolutionized the genre, reports the Associated Press.
"All right Mr. Syed, you’re free to join your family," Phinn said as the hearing ended. Minutes later, Syed emerged from the courthouse and flashed a smile as he was shepherded to a waiting SUV through a sea of cameras and a cheering crowd of supporters.
Excerpt from the Associated Press: At the behest of prosecutors who had uncovered new evidence, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered that Syed’s conviction be vacated as she approved the release of the now-41-year-old who has spent more than two decades behind bars. There were gasps and applause in the crowded courtroom as the judge announced her decision. Phinn ruled that the state violated its legal obligation to share evidence that could have bolstered Syed’s defense. She ordered Syed to be placed on home detention with GPS location monitoring. The judge also said the state must decide whether to seek a new trial date or dismiss the case within 30 days.
According to the New York Times, millions of Americans know about the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee because of the podcast "Serial." Over 12 episodes in 2014, "Serial" documented the killing of Lee, a high school student near Baltimore, and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed.
Excerpt from the New York Times: On the podcast, a team of journalists led by Sarah Koenig, the host of "Serial," documented major problems with the case against Syed: The prosecution’s timeline was implausible; Syed’s defense lawyer failed to pursue important leads; and the cellphone records supposedly tracking Syed’s location were questionable. The resulting attention led courts to take another look at the case, but not to free Syed. Yesterday, however, a judge freed him after he had spent 23 years behind bars. The judge, Melissa Phinn, overturned his conviction after Baltimore prosecutors had said last week that they no longer had confidence in it.
Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: “Serial” became a cultural phenomenon when it was released in 2014, helping popularize podcasts and leading to a wave of other true-crime shows like it. New York Times Co. bought the production company behind "Serial" in 2020. The podcast was the No. 1 show in the U.S. on Apple Inc.’s platform Tuesday afternoon after the release of a new 17-minute episode called "Adnan Is Out." It was the 26th most popular podcast on Spotify Technology SA’s U.S. list. The first season of “Serial” and a later HBO docuseries raised questions about Mr. Syed’s involvement in the fatal strangling of Ms. Lee in 1999, helping spur attempts to revive his case in recent years. "You might be asking, what on earth happened?" Sarah Koenig, the host of "Serial," said in the new episode Tuesday. "I’ve spent the last few days trying to understand it myself."