Celebrity News

He was charged with murder 23 years ago, now Adnan Syed is free

His conviction was overturned.
Loading the player...

After serving 23 years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee, Adnan Syed walked free last week when a judge overturned his conviction, telling him, “All right Mr Syed, you’re free to join your family.”

Emerging from a Baltimore court house with a subtle smile on his face, Adnan was greeted by a cheering crowd of supporters and camera crews before being guided into a waiting car.

Adnan found the outcome “both joyful and incredibly overwhelming” and “couldn’t believe it’s real”, said his lawyer, Erica Suter of the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic. The 41-year-old is now spending time with his family.

He has been in jail for 23 years.

(Image: Getty)

Locked away

Adnan has always maintained his innocence, and despite multiple appeals and new evidence being presented over the years, he has remained locked up. Even though prosecutors defended the conviction repeatedly, Baltimore’s state attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a motion to vacate it and court judge Melissa Phinn approved Adnan’s release.

However, the decision doesn’t mean Adnan is innocent, and prosecutors must now decide whether to seek a new trial date or dismiss the case within 30 days. He’s been placed on home detention with GPS location monitoring.

His release was sudden.

(Image: Getty)

New evidence

The state attorney explained that the sudden release happened after a nearly year-long “exhaustive investigation” raised problems with using mobile phone data as evidence in the original trial and a failure to disclose alternative suspects in the killing.

Prosecutors and Adnan’s lawyers uncovered new evidence, including two new possible suspects who were known persons at the time of the original investigation. One had threatened to kill Hae and both had patterns of violence against women.

His mother is yet to comment.

(Image: Getty)

A shattered family

While her family had yet to comment on Adnan’s release last week, before the decision was announced, Hae’s brother Young Lee told the court that he felt “betrayed”.

“Whenever I think it’s over, and it’s ended, it always comes back… it’s killing me,” he said, adding that he felt blindsided by the prosecutor’s actions.

An 18-year-old high schooler at the time of her death, Hae went missing on January 13, 1999, and her body was found in a shallow grave in Baltimore’s Leakin Park on February 9. She was strangled, and after an anonymous tip off, Adnan was arrested on February 28.

The podcast, Serial made the cast famous.

(Image: Getty)

Trial by podcast

The case was chronicled in the podcast Serial in 2014, which was responsible for introducing millions of people to the medium for the first time by delving into the investigation with compelling, forensic detail.

Its creator, journalist Sarah Koenig, spent more than a year researching every aspect of the case and put Adnan’s conviction into question with her evidence. The 12-episode series was a huge hit and won the prestigious Peabody Award.

Sarah was present at the courthouse, watching and recording Adnan’s release for an updated episode.

Related stories