Adnan Syed is a free man, now and forever. Prosecutors have dropped charges against the subject of the popular true-crime podcast Serial, the Baltimore Sun reports, with no expectation of a retrial. He served 22 years in prison.
Prosecutors asked to have the conviction thrown out after a year-long investigation uncovered two other potential suspects. At least one of them was never disclosed to Syed’s attorney during the original trial for the 1999 murder Syed’s ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
The news follows a September 14th filing to vacate the murder charges. “The State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction,” said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby at the time.
The decision was based on new evidence as well as old details that had been kept from the defense. During the original trial, prosecutors were aware of another suspect’s statement in which he said “he would make her [Lee] disappear. He would kill her.” Besides that, the new investigation learned that Lee’s car had been discovered in a grassy lot behind a house belonging to a suspect’s relative.
On September 19th, Syed’s conviction was officially vacated, as the state debated whether or not to try him again. Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn gave prosecutors 30 days to make up their minds, a decision Mosby suggested would hinge on the results of DNA testing. Earlier DNA results were deemed “useless,” and it is not clear if Mosby has received newer information. Mosby previously suggested that if the DNA tests came back inconclusive or pointed to another suspect, she would be willing to certify Syed’s innocence, paving the way for wrongful conviction compensation from the state.
Now, Syed’s attorney, Erica Suter, has confirmed that prosecutors have dropped all charges, but offered no further comment.
Syed was convicted in 2000 of first degree murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years. He always maintained his innocence.
His story attracted nationwide attention in 2015 with the release of the first season of Sarah Koenig’s podcast, Serial. The series has been downloaded over 340 million times, and is often credited with popularizing true crime podcasts. In 2019, HBO released a four-part docuseries on the trial, The Case Against Adnan Syed.