Adnan Syed, 42, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 for the murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, on the east coast of the United States.
In an unexpected turnaround, the city’s prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, filed a motion last week to have the verdict set aside, explaining that she had doubts about Adnan Syed’s guilt and asked for his release.
Mrs Mosby explained that she had discovered the existence of
two alternate suspectscrucial information that was poorly exploited at the time and which, above all, had not been communicated to the defense before the trial.
On Monday, a magistrate therefore approved the prosecutor’s request during a hearing in a crowded room in a Baltimore court.
In the interest of justice and fairness, the motion is granted: the accused will be released and fitted with an electronic bracelet, Judge Melissa Phinn said.
Officers then removed Adnan Syed’s shackles while part of the room applauded before being called to order. Beard full and head covered with a cap, he showed no reaction.
He finds it hard to believe that it’s really true and
now wants to spend time with his familysaid his lawyer Erica Suter in front of the courthouse, while his client rushed into a car without making a statement.
New trial or drop of charges?
Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby meanwhile insisted that justice had no
not yet declared Adnan Syed innocent and that she would await the results of further DNA analysis before deciding whether to drop the charges against him or organize a new trial.
She has 30 days to do so. Whatever her decision, she promised to continue the investigation
to make sure Hae Min Lee’s family knows the culprit’s name for sure.
During the hearing, the young woman’s brother, Young Lee, took the floor by telephone to explain his dismay. saying
live a nightmare that never endshe confided that he felt
deceived by prosecutors who argued for years to hold the right culprit before finally changing their minds.
The case began in February 1999 when police found the body of Hae Min Lee, 18, half-buried in a Baltimore woods. Arrested at the age of 17, Adnan Syed was sentenced to life imprisonment a year later.
According to the prosecution, he had not supported that she left him for another and had strangled her. He has always proclaimed his innocence, convinced of being the victim of anti-Muslim prejudice.
300 million downloads
In 2014, a team of journalists conducted a counter-investigation, told in twelve episodes in the first season of Serial. A precursor to the era of podcasts, this radio soap opera has, according to its producers, been downloaded more than 300 million times. It also inspired an HBO documentary.
The investigation by journalists from Serial had shown that Adnan Syed’s lawyer had neglected a mobile telephone expertise favorable to the accused as well as the testimony of a young girl who offered him a potential alibi.
Their work led to a reopening of the case, and in March 2018, a Maryland appeals court ordered a new trial, finding that the lawyer had brought a
ineffective help to his client.
In March 2019, the Supreme Court of Maryland had recognized that the lawyer had been wrong not to present certain elements, but she had considered that
given all the evidence, the verdict would not have been different had she included them. She had therefore refused the organization of a new trial.
Adnan Syed’s defense then turned to the United States Supreme Court. In 2019, she refused to intervene, which seemed to put an end to her hopes of release.
However, the Baltimore prosecutor, who has a service specializing in the correction of miscarriages of justice, reopened the case once again, ultimately causing this latest judicial reversal.
A new episode of Serial will be broadcast on Tuesday morning, the producers of this podcast announced on their Twitter account on Monday.