Adnan Syed case update: DNA results loom as state faces deadline to retry Serial podcast subject for murder

Adnan Syed gets new trial

Adnan Syed walked out of court a free man on Monday after two handwritten notes featuring the name of another potential suspect was discovered earlier this year, it has been revealed.

Serial, the podcast which propelled the case to global attention and first raised doubts about Mr Syed’s conviction, released a new episde on Tuesday revealing what finally led Baltimore prosecutors to rethink the 41-year-old’s conviction for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

In the episode, journalist Sarah Koenig said that “messy” notes which languished in statet trial boxes for more than two decades revealed that two different people had placed two separate phone calls alerting prosecutors to the unnamed suspect prior to Syed’s 2000 conviction.

The notes were not shared with Mr Syed’s legal team – something the judge agreed was a Brady violation.

On Monday, Judge Melissa Phinn overturned Mr Syed’s conviction and ordered him to be released – after 23 years behind bars.

Prosecutors now have 30 days to decide whether they will fully drop the charges or retry the case.


Hae Min Lee’s family pleads for ‘truth’

Hae Min Lee’s family has spoken out after the man convicted of her murder 22 years ago walked free from a Baltimore courthouse on Monday.

Steve Kelly, an attorney representing the Lee family, released a statement saying that “no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family”.

The family also criticised the prosecution for the lack of notice they gave that they planned to have Adnan Syed’s sentence overturned.

“For more than 20 years, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office has told the family of Hae Min Lee that their beloved daughter and sister was murdered by Adnan Syed,” the statement read.

“One week ago, for the first time, the family was informed that, through a year-long investigation that is apparently still ongoing, the state had uncovered new facts and would be filing a motion to vacate Mr. Syed’s conviction.

“For more than 20 years, no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family.

“The Lee family is deeply disappointed that today’s hearing happened so quickly and that they were denied the reasonable notice that would have permitted them to have a meaningful voice in the proceedings.”


Serial host says Syed’s case shows issues in justice system

Serial host Sarah Koenig has said that Adnan Syed’s case contains almost all the issues with the US’s criminal justice system.

As one of the pioneers of the true crime phenomenon, the podcast divided opinion around Syed’s innocence or guilt.

“We knew people would come to different conclusions, of course,” Ms Koenig told the New York Times.

“Barring some smoking-gun evidence, which we didn’t find (and it seems like no one else has either), there was no way for us to say definitively what happened.

“But what we were pointing out in our story was that the timeline of the case and the evidence in the case had serious problems. Which meant the people who convicted Adnan of murder, they didn’t know what happened either.”

She added: “And so this kid goes to prison for life at 18, based on a story that wasn’t accurate. That’s what we wanted people to think about: Even setting aside the question of Adnan’s guilt or innocence, are we OK with a system that operates like that?”

Ms Koenig went on to list off the various systemic issues which played out in the 2000 case, which she said are far from unique to Syed’s case.

“Questionable interrogation tactics and tunnel vision by police; an overtaxed system that fails to properly interrogate evidence; prosecutors withholding evidence from the defense; our country’s tolerance for insanely long prison sentences; juveniles treated as adults when science tells us they aren’t; racism; how grindingly difficult it is to get the system to take another look at your case once you’ve been convicted; prosecutors and cops who don’t police themselves and then double down when they’re accused of doing something wrong,” she said.

“It’s pretty much — you name it, this case has it. And while I’m up here: There is nothing unusual about the presence of these systemic problems in Adnan’s case. Nothing.”

So far, prosecutors have stopped short of exonerating Syed, saying their request to overturn his conviction – and the subsequent judge’s ruling – does not mean a declaration of innocence but that “in the interest of fairness and justice, he is entitled to a new trial”.


True crime is America’s guilty pleasure. Is it harmful?

Maybe you’ve seen The Thing About Pam, the recent NBC black comedy starring Renee Zellwegger as convicted killer Pam Hupp – and you devoured it in one binge-session. Or maybe you watched it week to week, reading reviews of how much time Zellwegger spent in the makeup chair.

But you probably didn’t know that a detective who worked on the actual Hupp case thought the show was “despicable,” misrepresentative of the case, the witnesses, the investigation, and everything else.

The true crime phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down – as documentaries, podcasts, dramatizations and all manner of content continue to explode across platforms – and the reaction of that Hupp detective is not unusual. Armchair sleuths may spend countless hours poring over the lives of crime victims while concocting their own theories, but family members, investigators, victims themselves and even offenders frequently bristle when they see portrayals of their own lives.

Why are we so fascinated by gory tales of death, murder and mayhem? And is the public’s bombardment with true crime content helping or hurting?

The Independent’s Sheila Flynn investigates:


Sarah Koenig says vacation of Adnan Syed’s conviction is ‘deja vu’ for defence

Serial host Sarah Koenig has said that the vacation of Adnan Syed’s conviction is “deja vu” for the defence who have argued there were flaws in the case for years.

Ms Koenig told the New York Times that many of the arguments made by the prosecution calling for Syed’s release are “the same” as those already made by his legal team, during his decades-long fight to prove his innocence in the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.

“A lot of what the state is saying in this motion probably feels like déjà vu for the defense side,” she said.

“Many of the arguments are the same — unreliable witness statements, unreliable cellphone evidence. A timeline of the crime that doesn’t hold up.”

Ms Koenig, who propelled the case to global attention through her podcast series, said that the “bombshell” new revelation came from the details that the state had failed to hand over information about another potential suspect back during the original case.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


Maryland AG pushes back at arguments of a Brady violation

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has pushed back against the argument that there were Brady violations in the case of Adnan Syed.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that prosecutors withheld information about two other potential suspects from Syed’s defence team at his 2000 trial.

Based on that, she said that his conviction should be overturned, pending the possibility of a new trial.

A Brady violation is where a prosecutor fails to provide the defence with evidence that could be helpful or beneficial to a defendant’s case.

Mr Frosh released a statement saying that the allegations that prosecutors did not hand over evidence to Syed’s defencce is false.

“Among the other serious problems with the motion to vacate, the allegations related to Brady violations are incorrect,” Mr Frosh said in the statement.

“Neither State’s Attorney Mosby nor anyone from her office bothered to consult with either the assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted the case or with anyone in my office regarding these alleged violations.

“The file in this case was made available on several occasions to the defense.”


Rabia Chaudry jokes he’s not looking to ‘hook up’ with ‘thirsty’ ladies

A family friend of Adnan Syed has joked that the 41-year-old is not “looking to hook up” with the influx of “thirsty” ladies who have reached out following his bombshell release from prison.

“I keep getting asked this question and I’m only answering it once because first of all this is not my role in his life, but also people get a grip,” tweeted Rabia Chaudry on Wednesday morning.

“Adnan is not looking to hook up or meet any of the very thirsty, er I mean interested, ladies reaching out.”

Ms Chaudry, an attorney and family friend, shared a GIF of actor Julia Stiles gesturing to move on.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


What we know about two alternate suspects in 1999 murder

Adnan Syed walked out of court a free man on Monday, after an almost year-long investigation uncovered new evidence about the possible involvement of two alternative suspects in the 1999 slaying of student Hae Min Lee.

On Monday, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn vacated the 41-year-old’s conviction “in the interest of justice”, granted him a new trial and ordered him to be released under home detention while the investigation into Lee’s murder continues.

His release came days after Maryland prosecutors made a bombshell request for his conviction to be quashed.

On Wednesday – after more than two decades behind bars where Syed has continued to maintain his innocence of any involvement – Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a motion to throw out his conviction.

She said that “the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction” based on doubts about the validity of cellphone records as well as new information about two unnamed suspects.

Wednesday’s court filing did not name the two alternate suspects in the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

However, prosecutors said that the two alternate suspects were both known to the initial 1999 murder investigation and were not properly ruled out or disclosed to the defence.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


Serial host says she ‘did not see this coming at all’

Serial host Sarah Koenig has said that she “did not see it coming at all” when prosecutors made the bombshell announcement last week that they were calling for Adnan Syed’s release.

After following the case for close to a decade – and seeing multiple legal setbacks for Syed along the way – she told the New York Times that she was “shocked” when the state suddenly “pulled off a rubber mask and underneath was a scowling defense attorney”.

“I was shocked. I did not see this coming at all. One of the first things I did was call Adnan’s brother and then his mother — they told me they didn’t know either,” she said.

“The prosecutors who filed the motion to release him kept it pretty tight, it seems.

“But the shocking part was that this was coming from the state’s side. I felt almost disoriented for about a day. Like the city prosecutor’s office suddenly pulled off a rubber mask and underneath was a scowling defense attorney.”

Ms Koenig launched the podcast in 2014, after being contacted by Syed’s family friend and attorney Rabia Chaudry.

The podcast series propelled the case to international attention and raised serious doubts about Syed’s conviction, as one of the pioneers of the true crime phenomenon.


Adnan Syed: What happens next for the Serial podcast subject and the murder case of Hae Min Lee?

With Adnan Syed’s conviction now quashed, questions remain around what happens next.

Will Syed be retried for Hae Min Lee’s murder?

Will one of the other suspects face charges?

Duncan Levin, former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office and a prominent criminal defence attorney at Levin & Associates who has represented clients including Harvey Weinstein and Anna Sorokin, tells The Independent on Tuesday that he thinks this marks the end of Syed’s two-decade long legal battle.

“This is pretty much the end of the road,” he said.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:


Serial podcast reveals notes about another potential suspect led to conviction being tossed

The discovery of two handwritten notes about another potential suspect ultimately led to Adnan Syed’s conviction being tossed, according to a newly released Serial episode.

The “messy” notes, which were found deep within boxes of files on the case earlier this year, revealed that two different people had placed two separate phone calls alerting prosecutors to the unnamed suspect prior to Syed’s 2000 conviction.

Despite the tipoffs, the notes were not shared with Syed’s legal team and instead sat gathering dust in boxes inside the state attorney’s office for the past 23 years – all the while Syed was holed up behind bars for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

Now, in 2022, the notes have finally come to light and “shocked” both the prosecution and the defence.

On Monday, a judge overturned Syed’s conviction and he walked out of court a free man.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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