Last week, Baltimore prosecutors revealed there may be a new twist in a murder case famously covered on the podcast Serial. Adnan Syed had been convicted of killing Hae Min Lee in 1999. He has always maintained his innocence. Lo and behold, a year-long investigation had turned up evidence that may warrant a new trial. As such, they argued, his convicted should be vacated. Less than a week later, it was.
As per CNN, a judge on Monday approved the vacating of Syed’s conviction. Among the reasons for the decision were that material in the state investigation had been properly provided to defense attorneys. What’s more, investigators may have improperly cleared two suspects, and new details about them have come to light during the new investigation, including that one had motive to kill Lee. Last week, state investigators said they “no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction.”
Until the new trial commences — and the investigation is still underway — Syed is a free man. He attended the hearing on Monday, his feet handcuffed but not his hands. After the ruling, those anklecuffs were removed, and Syed — who had been sentenced to life in prison in 2000 — left the courthouse to cheering throngs. Smiling but reserved, he stepped through the crowd and into a vehicle.
— Katie Barlow (@katieleebarlow) September 19, 2022
VIDEO: Adnan Syed walks out of court a free man. pic.twitter.com/zjPTDfxDYZ
— Mariam Khan (@MKhan47) September 19, 2022
— Linh Bui WJZ (@LinhBuiWJZ) September 19, 2022
Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial — who dedicated their first blockbuster season to the case — was present at the release. The podcast announced they would be releasing a new episode the following day.
Sarah was at the courthouse when Adnan was released, a new episode is coming tomorrow morning. https://t.co/GmO3jmGeoy
— Serial (@serial) September 19, 2022
Along with Serial, the murder of Hae Min Lee — and the conviction of Syed — has also been covered on the HBO documentary series The Case Against Adnan Syed, which also delved into discrepancies and red flags in the investigation and trial. The case has inspired lots of obsessives, who’ve pored over evidence and come up with their own theories, including some fishy business involving the grassy lot where Lee’s car was found.
Syed’s release prompted an avalanche of love on social media, ecstatic that a possibly wrongly imprisoned person was enjoying freedom for the first time in 22 years.