A circuit court judge vacated the sentence of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murder of Hae Min Lee (center) in 2000 (Pictures: Reuters)
The subject of a popular true crime podcast was released from prison on Monday after a judge vacated his sentence.
Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered the release of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murder in 2000.
Syed was accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999, but he always maintained his innocence. His case gained notoriety again in 2014 after it was profiled on the first season of the hit podcast Serial.
Syed was lead into court on Monday afternoon in handcuffs. His mother was among the supporters gathered in the Baltimore courtroom.
Phinn placed Syed under home detention and ordered him to be monitored by a GPS tracking device. She gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to seek a new trial or dismiss the charges against him.
Adnan Syed leaves a hearing at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse (Picture: REUTERS)
‘All right Mr Syed, you’re free to join your family,’ Phinn said as the hearing came to a close.
As Syed walked out of the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse, he was greeted by a large, cheering crowd.
Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that her office would ‘remain committed to ensuring justice for all under the law. Which includes victims, witnesses, accusers, and the accused.’
Not all of the attendees were as excited about the decision. The victim’s brother, Young Lee, told the court he felt betrayed by prosecutors. ‘This is not a podcast for me. This is real life,’ he told the court.
Adnan Syed departs from court after a judge overturned Syed’s 2000 murder conviction and ordered a new trial (Picture: REUTERS)
Mosby said she understood Lee’s frustration and disappointment. ‘You have some sort of resolution, and you believe that you have closure, and the case comes back up and rips a whole new wound that you think has healed,’ she said.
Last week, prosecutors filed a motion asking the judge to vacate Syed’s sentence after new evidence was uncovered that casts doubt on his conviction.
‘After a nearly year-long investigation reviewing the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and the latest evidence can be presented,’ Mosby stated on September 14.
Prosecutors are not claiming that Syed is innocent, but instead arguing that he deserves a new trial.
Sarah Koenig won a Peabody Award in 2015 for Serial, whose first season in 2014 profiled Adnan Syed’s case (Picture: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)
‘We believe that keeping Mr Syed detained as we continue to investigate the case with everything that we know now, when we do not have confidence in results of the first trial, would be unjust,’ Mosby said.
In addition to new evidence, the Mosby also said that the prosecution may have failed to disclose information to Syed’s defense – including the fact that investigators failed to rule out two additional suspects.
One of the suspects was convicted of attacking a woman, and the other was convicted of serial rape and sexual assault, the State’s Attorney said.
Prosecutors also did not disclose that one of the suspects sent Lee a threatening text message just before her murder, telling her ‘he would make her disappear. He would kill her.’
A yearbook photo of Hae Min Lee (Picture: Serial)
Lee, a Korean-American high school student, was found partially-buried in a Baltimore city park in January 1999.
Police began investigating Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend, after receiving an anonymous phone call.
The prosecution’s case against Syed relied heavily on data from cell phone towers to triangulate his location on the night Lee’s murder. The State’s Attorney now says that the data collected for the case is ‘unreliable,’ and says that prosecutors should not have relied on it for the original conviction.
‘It simply wouldn’t stand up in court today,’ Mosby said outside the courthouse on Monday.
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