Adnan Syed, a convicted man turned family title after his look in NPR’s Serial podcast, has had his convictions tossed and was granted launch from jail pending a brand new trial — 22 years after being discovered responsible for the homicide of fellow highschool scholar Hae Min Lee.
After quite a few makes an attempt and retrials spurred by the web’s obsession with the case, a Baltimore, Maryland, choose vacated multiple convictions towards Syed on Monday, Sept. 29, together with homicide, kidnapping, theft, and false imprisonment. The choose ordered that he could be launched instantly from custody with out bail and held in detention at dwelling, awaiting a decision from prosecutors on whether or not or to not drop the costs or retry Syed. The choice cited unreliable evidence and the introduction of alternative suspects as issues in regards to the unique trial course of.
Syed has lengthy retained his claims of innocence within the horrific 1999 homicide of 18-year-old Lee, whom he had beforehand dated. Syed was 17 years previous when he was arrested and has served 23 years of his conviction. In 2014, he was chosen as the topic of the now critically-acclaimed crime podcast Serial, which documented the trial and particulars of his case on the behest of his household and mates, who had been attempting to show that Syed’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice. The present was an instantaneous viral hit, and had collected 40 million downloads by the top of 2014.
Following the present’s launch, Syed’s case continued as an web dialog starter for thousands and thousands of listeners and intrigued bystanders around the globe, most of whom took it on as an emblem of an unjust and damaged authorized system (a subject Serial has continued to cowl in its multi-season run, every of which covers a brand new case or authorized system-adjacent story). Others contended that the main focus of each the case and the podcast ought to have been on the sufferer Lee, and proceed to consider that Syed is responsible.
In 2018, Syed was granted a new trial after a choose dominated that his proper to “efficient help of counsel” had been violated in his unique trial, however in 2019, that ruling was overturned by the Maryland Court docket of Appeals. Syed remained in jail beneath the unique conviction. In 2021, his case was dropped at Marilyn J. Mosby, the state’s lawyer for Baltimore Metropolis, and, after Maryland handed the Juvenile Restoration Act, which permits courts to reevaluate juvenile convictions after they’ve served 20 years, to the Baltimore Metropolis Circuit Court docket.
Maryland state officers say this resolution is within the curiosity of “justice and equity” following a poorly-executed trial. “It’s our promise that we’ll do all the things we will to deliver justice to the Lee household. Meaning persevering with to make the most of all obtainable sources to deliver a suspect or suspects to justice and maintain them accountable,” mentioned Becky Feldman, chief of the State’s Legal professional’s Workplace’s Sentencing Overview Unit.
Talking in court docket on Monday, Lee’s household expressed their continued grief over how the case is handled by the media and the cycle of latest trials and trending information. Host and the on-the-ground reporter of Serial, Sarah Koenig, was additionally there in Baltimore as Monday’s verdict got here in; the present has already introduced it is producing a follow-up episode to debate the brand new ruling.
True crime media, together with podcasts and the still-growing TikTok obsession with recounting violent crimes and trials, has risen in curiosity in recent times, even amid intense criticism that the genre violates the privacy and ethical boundaries of victims and their households. Syed’s story was an earlier type of such a web obsession with violent crime towards ladies, however the compelling story additionally dropped at mild a nationwide dialog in regards to the therapy of individuals of coloration within the justice system.
As true crime customers proceed to comply with Syed’s trial — and rightfully criticize the nation’s unjust incarceration of many — it leaves a query of the place Lee, each her life and her dying, match into the digital dialog.