US judge releases murder convict after 20 years

Picture source - Reuters

A United States judge in the state of Maryland has vacated the 2000 sentence of a murder convict, Adnan Syed.

On Monday, the decision came after prosecutors claimed that two more potential suspects in the murder of Adnan Syed’s ex-girlfriend were never mentioned to the defense at trial.

The podcast “Serial” placed doubt on his guilt, which brought the case to national prominence.

Hae Min Lee was 18 years old when she was killed and buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.

Syed has consistently maintained his innocence and denied killing her.

Syed’s release from custody and placement in home detention was mandated by Judge Melissa Phinn of the Circuit Court in Baltimore on Monday.

Prosecutors have 30 days to request a new trial or to have the case dismissed.

Following a year-long inquiry undertaken with a public defender representing Syed, the state’s attorney for Baltimore filed a request to overturn the conviction on Wednesday.

During this investigation, various issues with witnesses and trial evidence were discovered.

In its statement to the court, the prosecution said that while they were not claiming Syed was innocent, they no longer believed in the integrity of the conviction and that justice demanded that Syed at the very least be given a new trial.

They argued that Syed, who has served 20 years in jail, ought to be let out while the inquiry was still ongoing and the prosecution considered whether to ask for a fresh trial.

The victim’s brother, Young Lee, said in court that he and his family felt deceived by the prosecution’s decision to shift course after sticking by the conviction for so long.