Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP, file
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Baltimore prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to overturn Adnan Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled on the hit “Serial” podcast.
The Baltimore state’s attorney filed a motion in circuit court, saying a lengthy investigation with the defense uncovered new evidence that could undermine the conviction of Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend.
“The motion filed today supports a new trial for Syed based on a nearly year-long investigation that uncovered undisclosed and newly developed information regarding two alternate suspects, as well as cell tower data. unreliable,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office said in a statement. Press release.
Syed, 42, has maintained his innocence for decades and caught the attention of millions in 2014 when the first season of the ‘Serial’ podcast focused on the case and raised doubts about some of the evidence. , including cell tower data.
Prosecutors recommend that Syed be released
On Wednesday, prosecutors said they were not asserting that Syed was innocent, but they lacked confidence “in the integrity of the conviction” and recommended that he be released on bail or bail.
“We believe that keeping Mr. Syed detained as we continue to investigate the case with all we know now, when we have no confidence in the results of the first trial, would be unfair,” Mosby added.
The state’s attorney’s office said if the court granted his motion, it would effectively put Syed in a new trial status and his convictions would be overturned, but the case would remain active.
“Whether the state will ultimately pursue a trial in this case or dismiss the charges will depend on the outcome of the ongoing investigation,” the state’s attorney’s office said.
The state’s attorney’s office says two other suspects may be involved
Prosecutors said a reinvestigation into the case revealed evidence regarding the possible involvement of two other suspects other than Syed. The two suspects may be involved individually or may be involved together, the state’s attorney’s office said. A suspect had threatened Lee saying “he would do him
Now, according to prosecutors, the roughly year-long investigation has uncovered two alternate suspects who were known to authorities 23 years ago but have not been disclosed to Syed’s defense. Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys will reveal the identities of the suspects as the investigation is ongoing, according to the motion.
One of the suspects had threatened Lee, saying “he would make her (Mrs. Lee) disappear. He would kill her,” according to the filing.
“Given the overwhelming lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with growing evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust conviction cannot stand,” said Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter, Mr. Syed’s attorney and Innocence Project Clinic Director. “Mr Syed is grateful that this information has finally come to light and looks forward to his day in court.”
The suspects were known individuals at the time of the initial investigation and were not properly excluded or disclosed to the defense, prosecutors said.
The investigation also found a separate document from the original trial file, in which another person passed on information that may be considered motive for that same suspect to harm the victim, prosecutors said. Information about the threat and pattern of harm could have served as a basis for the defense and was not disclosed at trial or to defense counsel after sentencing, the state attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors also said new information has emerged that one of the suspects was convicted of assaulting a woman in her vehicle and one of the suspects was convicted of serial rape and sexual assault. .
The state attorney’s office declined to release information about the suspects, due to the ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors note unreliable cellphone data used in case
Prosecutors also noted unreliable cellphone data used during Syed’s trial to corroborate his whereabouts on the day of the crime. The notice on the records specifically stated that billing locations for incoming calls “would not be considered reliable location information.”
“The evidence proved that the state should not have relied on the incoming call evidence,” the state’s attorney’s office said.
Syed served more than 20 years in prison for strangling Lee, who was 18 at the time. His body was found weeks later buried in a Baltimore park.
More than a decade later, the popular “Serial” podcast has uncovered little-known evidence and garnered millions of listeners, smashing podcast streaming and record downloads.
In 2016, a lower court ordered a new trial for Syed on the grounds that his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, failed to contact an alibi witness and provided ineffective counsel.
But after a series of appeals, Maryland’s highest court in 2019 denied a new trial in a 4-3 opinion. The Court of Appeal agreed with a lower court that Syed’s attorney failed to investigate an alibi witness, but disagreed that this shortcoming hurt the case. The court said Syed waived his request for ineffective counsel.
The United States Supreme Court declined to review Syed’s case in 2019.