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Adnan Syed of NPR’s ‘Serial’ has quashed conviction and will be released from prison

Adnan Syed, a convicted man turned household name after his appearance on NPR Serial podcast, his convictions were overturned and he was released from prison pending a new trial, 22 years after he was found guilty in the murder of his high school classmate Hae Min Lee.

After numerous attempts and retrials fueled by the Internet’s obsession with the case, a judge in Baltimore, Maryland, overturned several convictions against Syed on Monday, September 29, including murder, kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment. The judge ordered that he be immediately released without bail and held in his home, awaiting a decision from prosecutors on whether or not to drop the charges or try Syed again. The judgment quoted unreliable evidence and the introduction of alternative suspects as concerns about the original trial process.


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Syed has long maintained her claims of innocence in the horrific 1999 murder of 18-year-old Lee, whom she had previously dated. Syed was 17 years old when he was arrested and has served 23 years of his sentence. In 2014, he was chosen as the subject of the now critically acclaimed crime podcast. Serial, who documented the trial and the details of his case at the urging of his family and friends, who had been trying to prove that Syed’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice. The show was an instant viral hit and had amassed 40 million downloads at the end of 2014.

After the show’s launch, Syed’s case continued to be a topic of conversation on the Internet for millions of intrigued listeners and viewers around the world, most of whom took it as a symbol of an unjust and broken legal system (a topic Serial has continued to cover in his career for several seasons, each covering a new case or story adjacent to the legal system). Others contended that the focus of both the case and the podcast should have been on victim Lee and continue to believe Syed is guilty.

In 2018, Syed was granted a new trial after a judge ruled that his right to “effective assistance of counsel” had been violated at his original trial, but in 2019, the Maryland Court of Appeals overturned that ruling. . Syed remained in prison under the original sentence. In 2021, his case was taken to Marilyn J. Mosby, the State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore and, after Maryland passed the Juvenile Restoration Actwhich allows courts to review juvenile convictions after they have served 20 years, to the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Maryland state officials say this decision is in the interests of “justice and fairness” after a poorly executed trial. “Our promise is that we will do everything we can to bring justice to the Lee family. That means continuing to use all available resources to bring a suspect or suspects to justice and hold them accountable,” said Becky Feldman, chief of the Office of the Condition. Judgment Review Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Speaking in court Monday, Lee’s family expressed their continued pain at how the case is being treated by the media and the cycle of new trials and breaking news. Host and field reporter for serial, Sarah Koenig, who was also there in Baltimore when Monday’s verdict came in; the show has already announced that it is producing a follow-up episode to discuss the new ruling.

True-crime media, including podcasts and TikTok’s growing obsession with chronicling violent crimes and trials, have surged in interest in recent years, even amid intense criticism that the genre violates privacy and ethical boundaries. victims and their families. Syed’s story was an earlier form of this kind of online obsession with violent crime against women, but the compelling story also sparked a national conversation about the treatment of people of color in the justice system.

As true crime consumers continue to follow Syed’s trial, and rightly criticize the unjust incarceration of many across the country, the question remains of where Lee, both his life and death, fits into the digital conversation.


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