Prosecutors have dropped charges against Adnan Syed, the man convicted of the 2000 murder of his former girlfriend, a case made public by the 2014 podcast Serial, which investigated problems with prosecutors.
A spokesman for the Baltimore City Attorney’s Office confirmed to ABC News that the prosecutor’s office is dropping the case against Syed.
An attorney representing Syed also confirmed to ABC News that the charges against Syed have been dropped.
Syed, now 41, had been serving a life sentence for the past 23 years – more than half of his life – since his arrest in 1999.
He was just 17 years old when he was convicted in 2000 of the murder, robbery, kidnapping and imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
On January 13, 1999, 18-year-old Lee disappeared after leaving Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was a senior.
Her body was found buried in a park in Baltimore about a month later. She had been strangled.
Syed has maintained his innocence and has denied any involvement in Lee’s death.
Judge Michelle Phinn last month ordered Syed’s release after prosecutors asked that his conviction be overturned.
“At that point, we will untie Mr. Syed,” Phinn explained after announcing her decision from the bench.
She then said that “in the interest of fairness and justice,” Syed should be released on his own after prosecutors found it had failed to turn over evidence that could have helped his trial in 2000 and after new evidence emerged had been discovered that could have influenced the trial outcome of his case.
The Baltimore Attorney’s Office had 30 days to decide whether to reschedule or drop the case.
Lee’s family had appealed Syed’s vacated conviction, saying Mosby’s office failed to give them adequate notice to attend the hearing. The family asked the Maryland Court of Appeals to stay the case while the court considered their appeal.
Last week, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh joined the Lee family in asking the state’s appeals court to stay Syed’s trial court case.
It is unclear what these new developments mean for the attractiveness of the family.
“At last Adnan Syed is able to live as a free man. The DNA results confirmed what we already knew and underlies all current proceedings: that Adnan is innocent and lost 23 years of his life for a crime he committed without committing,” said Syeds’ attorney, assistant public defender and director of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore Law School Erica Suter in a statement.
Regarding the complaint, Suter said: “While the process is not yet fully completed, this is an important step for Adnan, who has been under house arrest since the request for eviction was first granted last month,” Ms Suter said. “He still needs some time to process everything that has happened and we ask that you give him and his family that space.”
In a motion filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court last month, prosecutors said a nearly year-long investigation conducted in cooperation with Syed’s defense attorney has uncovered information pointing to the possible involvement of two “alternative suspects.” , as well as important evidence not presented until the original attempt.
The public prosecutor’s office did not name the new suspects.
Her application detailed how one of the two suspects had once threatened to kill Lee, and both had documented records of violence against women.
One of the suspects was reportedly convicted of a series of rapes, according to court documents, while one was convicted of assaulting a woman.
“After nearly a year of investigating the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is properly represented and the most recent evidence can be presented,” Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement last month.
“We believe it would be unfair to hold Mr. Syed while we continue to investigate the case with what we now know if we have no confidence in the results of the first trial,” Mosby said.
At his original trial, prosecutors relied on testimony from a friend, Jay Wilds, who said he helped Syed dig a hole for Lee’s body.
Prosecutors produced cellphone records and witness statements to place Syed at the spot where Lee was buried.
At a post-conviction hearing in 2016, a forensic scientist testified that these cellphone recordings were unreliable and should not have been used to convict Syed.
A 2019 appeal for a new trial was previously denied by the US Supreme Court.