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‘Serial’ podcast submits Adnan Syed’s sentence overturned by Maryland judge after prosecutors request

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Baltimore prosecutors asked a Maryland magistrate to overturn judgment Monday afternoon in the case of Adnan Syed, whose decades-old murder conviction sparked renewed interest after being featured on the podcast “Serial” in 2014.

Judge Melissa Phinn granted the prosecution’s request shortly after 4 p.m. ET.

Despite a conviction and a life sentence, Syed maintained he was innocent of the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, 18, in 1999. His brother told the court on Monday that he was not opposed the release but that he “felt betrayed” by the way prosecutors were handling their review of the case.

Steve Kelly, an attorney for Lee’s family, ripped prosecutors for allegedly giving his brother just two days’ notice before filing a surprise motion to overturn Syed’s conviction last week.


Prosecutors are asking for the murder of Adnan Syed to be quashed.
(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The attorney asked the judge to postpone proceedings for a week to give Young Lee time to travel to Baltimore from the West Coast and attend in person, a request Phinn denied.

The judge gave Kelly time to call Lee by phone and ask if he wanted to comment during the proceedings. He asked for 30 minutes to prepare and the judge ordered a suspension.

In an emotional statement, Lee told the judge he was not opposed to Syed’s release because he had faith in the criminal justice system and the court – but he said the motion to quash the had “blinded” and shocked him.

“I’m not against his release,” he said. “I was a bit blind. I always thought this state was on my side, but out of nowhere I heard there was a motion to vacate judgment, and I honestly thought, I felt betrayed.”


He said his mother also struggled with the news.

“It’s not a podcast to me, it’s just real life,” he said, his voice breaking near the end of about 4 minutes and 40 seconds of remarks. “Without end, after more than 20 years… I ask the judge that you make the right decision. It’s all your honor.

The judge denied Kelly a chance to speak again after Lee’s remarks and prosecutors began filing their motion to dismiss the court.

Prosecutors have highlighted several pieces of evidence, including the possibility of additional suspects: one who allegedly threatened to kill Lee and one who is linked to an address where Lee’s car was ultimately discovered. They also said the other possible suspects had each been convicted of crimes after Lee’s murder.

“We believe this is consequential information that needs to be investigated further,” Assistant State’s Attorney Becky Feldman told the court.


Prosecutors said they plan to continue reinvestigating the case and asked the judge not to dismiss the case entirely. They also called for Syed to be released on his own recognizance for the time being.

The district attorney’s office revealed last Wednesday that a year-long review of the case revealed new evidence, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier.

“The state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Feldman wrote in a motion to vacate obtained by FOX 5 DC.

The filing, filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, revealed new information regarding two other potential suspects and revealed that DNA testing “gave mostly inconclusive DNA results or no DNA results.”

“To be clear, the state is not asserting that the defendant is innocent at this time,” the motion reads. “However, for all of the reasons set out below, the state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction.”


The ‘Serial’ podcast raised doubts over Syed’s conviction and became the most downloaded podcast of all time – and the investigation into his claims of innocence led to a hearing in which his lawyers disputed the evidence against him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.