Baltimore prosecutors filed the movement final week asking for a brand new trial for Syed, who has been serving a life sentence after he was convicted of first-degree homicide, theft, kidnapping and false imprisonment in connection to the killing of Hae Min Lee.
In explaining her choice to vacate, Baltimore Metropolis Circuit Choose Melissa Phinn cited materials within the state investigation that was not correctly turned over to protection attorneys, in addition to the existence of two suspects who could have been improperly cleared as a part of the investigation.
Her ruling was met by cheers and tears within the courtroom. Syed – who attended the listening to carrying a white button-down shirt, a darkish tie and a kufi cap – was not handcuffed, however his ft have been. After the ruling, officers uncuffed his ankles from him, and shortly after, Syed walked out of the courthouse to cheers and applause from supporters. He didn’t cease to talk to reporters as he received right into a automobile.
“We’re not but declaring Adnan Syed is harmless,” Baltimore Metropolis State’s Lawyer Marilyn Mosby stated Monday following the choose’s ruling. “However we’re declaring that within the curiosity of equity and justice he’s entitled to a brand new trial.”
Prosecutors have 30 days to determine whether or not to pursue a brand new trial, and they’re ready for DNA evaluation that they’re making an attempt to expedite to find out whether or not Adnan’s case is dismissed or the case is ready for trial. However that mandate, Mosby stated, is “separate and aside” from the investigation into who killed Lee.
Within the meantime, Syed will put on an ankle monitor with monitoring, in keeping with Becky Feldman, chief of the Sentencing Evaluation Unit of the Baltimore Metropolis State’s Lawyer’s Workplace.
Twenty-three years after he went to jail, “we now know what Adnan and his family members have all the time recognized, that Adnan’s trial was profoundly and outrageously unfair. Proof was hidden from him, proof that pointed to different folks because the killers,” Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter, Syed’s lawyer and director of the Innocence Undertaking Clinic, stated in a press release following the ruling.
Prosecutors moved to vacate Syed’s conviction following a virtually year-long investigation, they stated in a information launch final week. On the time, Mosby stated prosecutors have been “not asserting, right now, that Mr. Syed is harmless” however that the state “lacks confidence within the integrity of the conviction” and that Syed ought to get a brand new trial.
The reinvestigation of the case revealed proof in regards to the attainable involvement of two suspects apart from Syed, together with an individual who stated they might make Lee “disappear” and that “(h)e would kill her,” prosecutors stated. Syed’s attorneys stated he and his authorized staff have been unaware that info existed till this 12 months.
Protection attorneys praised the prosecution’s movement to vacate the conviction as righting a improper.
“Given the beautiful lack of dependable proof implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with rising proof pointing to different suspects, this unjust conviction can’t stand,” Suter stated in a press release final week.
Maryland public defender Natasha Dartigue in a information launch known as the case “a real instance of how justice delayed is justice denied. An harmless man spends a long time wrongly incarcerated, whereas any info or proof that would assist determine the precise perpetrator turns into more and more troublesome to pursue. “
What we all know in regards to the case
Adnan and Lee have been seniors at Woodlawn Excessive College in Baltimore County in January 1999 when she disappeared. Her strangled physique of her was found in a metropolis forest three weeks later.
The March movement requested that the sufferer’s clothes be examined for contact DNA, which was not accessible on the time of trial. Objects now being examined weren’t beforehand examined in 2018 — when the Baltimore Metropolis Police Lab examined varied objects for DNA — apart from the sufferer’s fingernail clippings, Mosby’s assertion stated.
Mosby stated the movement to vacate was filed together with Sentencing Evaluation Unit Chief Becky Feldman. Syed was a juvenile when convicted.
The choice suspects have been recognized individuals on the time of the unique investigation “and weren’t correctly dominated out nor disclosed to the protection,” in keeping with Mosby’s assertion.
The state just isn’t disclosing the names of the suspects however stated that, in keeping with the trial file, considered one of them stated, “He would make her (Ms. Lee) disappear. He would kill her.”
The investigation additionally revealed that one suspect was convicted of attacking a girl in her automobile, in keeping with the assertion. The second suspect was convicted of partaking in serial rape and sexual assault, the assertion stated.
A number of the info was accessible on the time of the trial, the assertion stated, and a few got here to gentle later. It isn’t clear when these assaults befell.
Lee’s automobile was positioned “immediately behind the home of one of many suspect’s relations,” the assertion stated.
Attorneys for Syed introduced the case to the eye of the sentencing evaluation unit in April 2021.
Syed’s attorneys “recognized vital reliability points concerning probably the most vital items of proof at trial,” Mosby’s assertion stated.
At trial, prosecutors relied on testimony from a buddy, Jay Wilds, who stated he helped Syed dig a gap for Lee’s physique. To corroborate his account of him, prosecutors introduced cellphone data and professional witness testimony to position Syed on the web site the place Lee was buried.
CNN’s Lauren Koenig reported from Baltimore, whereas Dakin Andone and Eric Levenson wrote this story in New York. CNN’s Amy Simonson, Ray Sanchez and Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.