A judge ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning his murder conviction, the subject of the popular Serial podcast.

Mr. Syed was 17 when he was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 for the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee, who was strangled and buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.

On Monday, a Maryland judge overturned the sentence after prosecutors said there were two other possible suspects who were never revealed to the defense during the trial.

Judge Melissa Phinn of the Baltimore Circuit Court ordered Mr. Syed’s release from prison and home detention. She also ordered the state to decide whether to ask for a new trial date or to close the case within 30 days.

“Okay, Mr. Syed, you are free to join your family,” Ms. Phinn said at the end of the hearing.

Mr. Syed, now 41, has always affirmed his innocence and has been appealing against his conviction for years.

The case was first brought to global attention by the 2014 hit podcast, which raised doubts about his guilt and some evidence that prosecutors had used.

The serial evidence suggested by witness Asia McClain could have corroborated Mr. Syed’s account that he was in the library at the time of the murder.

Image:
Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse on Monday. Image: AP
Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse on Monday

Last week, prosecutors filed a motion stating that a lengthy investigation conducted with the defense had discovered new evidence that could undermine Mr. Syed’s belief.

Becky Feldman, head of the Sentencing Review Unit, described to the judge various details of the case that undermine the conviction, including faulty cell phone data, unreliable testimony, and a potentially biased detective.

Adnan and Hae Min Lee at the prom.  Image from the case against Adnan Syed.  Pic Pic: HBO / Sky Atlantic / NOW TV
Image:
Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee at a prom. Photo: HBO / Sky Atlantic / NOW TV

The investigation “revealed confidential and newly developed information regarding two alternative suspects as well as unreliable cell phone tower data,” Baltimore State Attorney’s Office Marilyn Mosby said in a news release last week.

Read more:
Serial and the case against Adnan Syed

The suspects were people known at the time of the original investigation, prosecutors said, but were not adequately excluded or disclosed to the defense, which refused to release information on the suspects due to the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors said they were not claiming that Mr. Syed was innocent, but they did not trust “the integrity of the sentence” and recommended that he be released.

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