- The state’s attorney for Baltimore City said that she had instructed her office to dismiss the charges against Syed on Oct. 11 morning after he was cleared by DNA testing.
Baltimore prosecutors have dropped the charges against Adnan Syed, who was behind bars since 2000 when he was found guilty of killing his high school classmate and ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The 41-year-old Bangladeshi American was released last month after spending 23 years in prison fighting a murder conviction that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.”
Adnan and Lee were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County in January 1999 and were said to be dating, when she disappeared. Lee’s body was found in a shallow grave in Leakin Park, at Baltimore’s western edge in 1999. Syed was arrested, and convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment in the death of Lee.
Marilyn J. Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore City, said that she had instructed her office to dismiss the charges against Syed on Oct. 11 morning after he was cleared by DNA testing. “It’s still an open and pending case, but with regard to Adnan Syed, the case is finished,” Mosby said at a news conference today (Oct. 11), as reported by The New York Times.
Speaking at the news conference this afternoon, Syed’s lawyer Erica J. Suter said her office would file a motion to certify his innocence “as soon as possible.” She said her client had dreams of going to law school and, now that he is free, he planned to focus on getting his bachelor’s degree, a process he began while he was incarcerated. “He is elated, he is joyful, he is still processing this,”
Syed’s younger brother Yusuf Syed told the Baltimore Sun from outside the family home that everyone is overwhelmed with happiness and still processing the news of charges being dropped this morning. “We’re finally able to move on and have our lives back.”
Syed Rabia Chaudry, an attorney and friend of Syed’s family who first brought his case to the attention of “This American Life,” which developed the podcast, told WJZ-TV that Syed is “a free man.” She told the news channel that his ankle monitor was taken off today.
Last month, after judge Melissa M. Phinn of Baltimore City Circuit Court vacated Syed’s conviction, prosecutors had 30 days to decide if they would proceed with a new trial or drop the charges. Syed was ordered to serve home detention until prosecutors reached their decision. Phinn said the Sept. 19 ruling came after finding that “prosecutors had failed to turn over evidence that could have helped Syed at trial and discovered new evidence that could have affected the outcome of his case,” The New York Times said at the time.
Mosby told the media that on Oct. 7, her office received notice of the results of DNA testing of items belonging to Lee, “including a skirt, pantyhose, shoes and a jacket,” the Times said. Noting that “investigators were able to recover DNA only from the shoes,” Mosby told the media that “advanced DNA” was used “to test the items that had never before been tested.” She said her team used “advanced DNA to determine that it was not Adnan Syed.” Confirming that Syed had been “wrongfully convicted,” she told the media that “a petition for his innocence still had to be initiated and certified,” The Times report said.
The news comes nearly eight years after the podcast “Serial,” which “dug into his case, raising questions about the conviction and his legal representation,” a CNN report said. It debuted in 2014, featuring as its host Sarah Koenig, a former producer with the weekly public radio program “This American Life.” Its first season focused on whether Syed had received a fair trial. It was downloaded more than 100 million times and won a Peabody Award, turning the case into a topic of national conversation. For many listeners, “Serial” raised doubts about Syed’s guilt. The podcast drew widespread attention to his case. There was an HBO docu-series as well, titled “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”