Updated Oct 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Charges against Adnan Syed dropped by Baltimore prosecutors

Adnan Syed leaving a courthouse after being released from prison in September 2022 in Baltimore.

Adnan Syed leaving a courthouse after being released from prison in September 2022 in Baltimore. Photo: Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Baltimore prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges against Adnan Syed, whose conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee was vacated last month based on new evidence discovered after his case became the subject of the first season of the hit podcast "Serial," an attorney for Syed confirmed.

Why it matters: Baltimore's State’s Attorney’s Office was deliberating whether to dismiss Syed's case or attempt to retry him over Min Lee's death after his life in prison sentence was overturned.

  • The podcast — and a 2019 HBO docuseries — cast doubt on Syed's original prosecution and key pieces of evidence used against him during the trial.
  • Syed, who was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment, in 2000, was released from prison last month.

What they're saying: “Finally, Adnan Syed is able to live as a free man. The DNA results confirmed what we have already known and what underlies all of the current proceedings: that Adnan is innocent and lost 23 years of his life serving time for a crime he did not commit," Erica Suter, Syed's attorney, said in a statement Tuesday.

  • “While the proceedings are not completely over, this is an important step for Adnan, who has been on house arrest since the motion to vacate was first granted last month,” Suter added. “He still needs some time to process everything that has happened and we ask that you provide him and his family with that space.”
  • Suter said during a news conference that it was currently too premature to discuss whether Syed would pursue a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the state.

The big picture: The city's State's Attorney office said in a motion in September that information about two possible alternative suspects made a new trial necessary.

  • The original prosecutors in the case failed to disclose relevant information about alternative suspects with Syed's defense, including one of whom threatened to kill Min Lee, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said last month.
  • After Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa M. Phinn vacated Syed's conviction, she gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to drop the murder charge against Syed or try him again.
  • He was 17 at the time of the murder of Min Lee, who was his ex-girlfriend.

Go deeper ... "Serial" case: Judge vacates Adnan Syed's conviction for 1999 murder

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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