‘Serial’ Update: Adnan Syed Murder Conviction Should Be Vacated, Prosecutors Say

The subject of the 2014 podcast and 2019 HBO docuseries may receive a new trial after additional suspects were uncovered

case against adnan syed hbo
"The Case Against Adnan Syed"/HBO

Adnan Syed, the subject of both the 2014 hit podcast “Serial” and HBO’s 2019 docuseries “The Case Against Adnan Syed” could soon be a free man, on the advice of prosecutors.

State attorneys in Baltimore moved Wednesday to vacate Syed’s 2000 conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee and request a new trial, the Baltimore Sun reported. They also asked he be released pending new developments.

A yearlong investigation conducted by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office and Syed’s attorney Erica Suter concluded that the prosecution are guilty of a number of Brady Violations, failure to disclose potentially exculpatory information to Syed’s defense attorneys. They were not made aware there were two additional suspect in the case, including one who had threatened Lee, saying “he would make her disappear. He would kill her,” the motion states.

“The State’s Brady violations robbed the Defendant of information that would have bolstered his investigation and argument that someone else was responsible for the victim’s death,” Becky Feldman, chief of the state’s attorney’s office’s Sentencing Review Unit, wrote in the motion, adding that he new information has “caused the state to lose faith in the integrity of the convictions.”

“Given the stunning lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with increasing evidence pointing to other suspects, this unjust conviction cannot stand,” said Suter, who is also the director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Innocence Project clinic. “Mr. Syed is grateful that this information has finally seen the light of day and looks forward to his day in court.”

Rabia Chaudry, a longtime friend of Syed’s who has worked for years to prove his innocence, told the Sun, “This is validating. It’s what we’ve been saying for decades.” Chaudry wrote, “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial,” and now hopes he will get a fair trial at last. “It’s what he did not get when he was 17. We know he’s innocent,” she said.

The family of Lee, who was found strangled to death and buried in Baltimore’s Leakin Park in 1999, has been notified of the motion but so far have not commented on it.

Maryland Public Defender Natasha Dartigue issued a statement saying that revelation of the withheld evidence in Syed’s case for more than 20 years should “shock the conscience.”

In her statement, she wrote, “This is a true example of how justice delayed is justice denied. An innocent man spends decades wrongly incarcerated, while any information or evidence that could help identify the actual perpetrator becomes increasingly difficult to pursue.”

The names of the two additional suspects have not been released as the case is still ongoing.