May 21, 2024
The life sentence of Adnan Syed, subject of the popular true-crime podcast Serial, was overturned by a Baltimore judge after Syed spent 23 years behind bars.

The life sentence of Adnan Syed, subject of the popular true-crime podcast Serial, was overturned by a Baltimore judge after Syed spent 23 years behind bars.

Syed, 41, was ordered to be released Monday. He was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 17 over the alleged murder of his classmate and former girlfriend Hae Min Lee. He maintained his innocence throughout, claiming he wasn’t given a fair trial. On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn announced Syed was to be released, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier in September, prosecutors put forward the recommendation, saying, “The state no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction.” A yearlong investigation by prosecutors and Syed’s lawyers that concluded Wednesday found that “significant reliability issues regarding the most critical pieces of evidence” were found, along with the identification of “two alternative suspects.”

One of the critical pieces of evidence with reliability issues cited was “unreliable cell phone tower data,” according to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office, to which an entire episode of Serial was devoted. Host Sarah Koenig found that the call logs did not match up with the testimonies of a key witness.

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The debut of the 2014 podcast Serial, which reexamined the evidence of the murder and poked holes in the case against Syed, resulted in an explosion of interest in his case. Eight years later, the state announced the loss of faith in the case, overturning it, according to the New York Times.

Serial won a Peabody Award and is widely considered revolutionary in popularizing podcasts, according to the Associated Press.

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