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Judge in Baltimore vacates conviction of Adnan Syed

A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge on Monday approved the state’s motion to vacate the murder conviction of Adnan Syed. Syed, 41, appeared in court Monday afternoon after Baltimore City prosecutors filed a motion last week to vacate his murder conviction in the death of his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.| PDF: Read the judge’s order | Read the state’s motionSyed is accused of killing Lee in 1999 and was subject of the popular podcast, “Serial.” His first trial ended in a mistrial. A jury convicted him in a second trial. Syed had been in jail since his arrest in February 1999.Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn said in her ruling: “In the interest of judgment and fairness, the state’s motion to vacate judgment … is hereby granted. The defendant will be released and placed on remote monitoring … The state will have 30 days to refile or nolle pros. At this time, we will remove the shackles off of Mr. Syed.”Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said her office awaits DNA testing and that the case continues to be investigated. They have to decide within 30 days whether to go to a new trial or nolle pros.Syed kept his hands on his lap and looked forward during the hearing. His attorney was wiping tears from her eyes while the judge announced her decision.”Today, my friend and client Adnan Syed walks free for the first time in 23 years. In 1999, Adnan was a senior at Woodlawn High School. He had been accepted to college with plans to major in pre-med. Those dreams were ended with Adnan was accused of the brutal murder of his friend and classmate, Hae Min Lee,” Assistant Public Defender and Innocence Project Clinic Director Erica Suter said.Maryland Public Defender Natasha Dartigue released a statement, saying: “Adnan Syed never should have waited this long for his name to be cleared and his freedom restored. The information pointing to other, more likely, suspects was within the possession of the state’s attorney’s office for 23 years. Withholding evidence is unconscionable and morally reprehensible.”I applaud my colleague, Assistant Public Defender and Innocence Project Clinic Director Erica Suter for her outstanding work which led the state to correct this injustice. It is her tenacity, thoroughness and commitment which got us here today.”As public defenders, we are at the forefront of uncovering withheld evidence and shining light on the grave issues and wrongs. The state must continue to correct past injustice and engage in meaningful reform focused on preventing wrongful convictions and prosecutions. OPD is proud to be part of this critical moment in Mr. Syed’s journey and we remain steadfast in our commitment to him and similarly situated individuals.”| PDF: Read full statement from the public defender for SyedHearing starts with statement from Lee’s brotherThe judge ruled against a motion from the attorney for Lee’s family to postpone the hearing until the family can participate. The judge granted a 30-minute recess for the attorney to reach Lee’s brother in California so he could participate in the hearing via Zoom.The hearing resumed shortly after 3:30 p.m. and heard from Lee’s brother, who asked the judge to make the “right decision,” saying he feels the motion is unfair, especially for his family, which has trusted the courts: “This is not a podcast for me. It’s real life that will never end — it’s been 20-plus years. It’s a nightmare … This is killing us,” he said.Steve Kelly, an attorney for the Lee family, said outside the courthouse after the hearing: “We are disappointed that today’s hearing happened so quickly with, unfortunately, no notice and that the court acted the way it did and that the prosecutor’s office made the recommendation the way that they did. This family is interested in the pursuit of justice. They want to know more than anybody who it was that killed Hae Min Lee.”LEE FAMILY STATEMENTKelly also released a statement on behalf of the family, saying: “For more than 20 years, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office has told the family of Hae Min Lee that their beloved daughter and sister was murdered by Adnan Syed. One week ago, for the first time, the family was informed that, through a year-long investigation that is apparently still ongoing, the state had uncovered new facts and would be filing a motion to vacate Mr. Syed’s conviction. “For more than 20 years, no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family. “The Lee family is deeply disappointed that today’s hearing happened so quickly and that they were denied the reasonable notice that would have permitted them to have a meaningful voice in the proceedings.” Prosecutor lays out new evidence foundNext, the prosecutor asked the judge to set a new trial date and release Syed on his own recognizance, pending a decision on whether to go to trial.”If this is granted, we will continue to investigate and possibly ask for a new trial,” the prosecutor said.Video below: The moment Adnan Syed was released from courtProsecutors then put on the record the new evidence and information they said their investigation uncovered this year. Prosecutors said their new investigation revealed information about two other potential suspects who may have been involved. Prosecutors said that based on the new potential suspect information, problematic cellphone evidence, DNA testing and Brady violations when it came informing the defense, they are pursing this motion to vacate.Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh released a statement, saying: “Among the other serious problems with the motion to vacate, the allegations related to Brady violations are incorrect.”Neither State’s Attorney Mosby nor anyone from her office bothered to consult with either the assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted the case or with anyone in my office regarding these alleged violations. The file in this case was made available on several occasions to the defense.”The state said cellphone tower records were unreliable and should not have been presented at trial. The state conferred “the location of the actual phone during incoming calls could not be conclusively determined” and the evidence should not have come in. The state said the prosecution really had no case against Syed without the cellphone evidence, telling the judge the case was flimsy at best.”The state has overwhelming cause to question the reliability of the defendant’s conviction,” the prosecutor said.The motion to vacate from prosecutors says the evidence against Syed in the previous trial was largely circumstantial, and they lacked confidence “in the integrity of the conviction.”The defense agreed with the state. The defense attorney began remarks by expressing condolences to the Lee family.”My client is innocent,” the defense attorney said.Video below: Baltimore City state’s attorney speaks after ruling

A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge on Monday approved the state’s motion to vacate the murder conviction of Adnan Syed.

Syed, 41, appeared in court Monday afternoon after Baltimore City prosecutors filed a motion last week to vacate his murder conviction in the death of his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

| PDF: Read the judge’s order | Read the state’s motion

Syed is accused of killing Lee in 1999 and was subject of the popular podcast, “Serial.” His first trial ended in a mistrial. A jury convicted him in a second trial. Syed had been in jail since his arrest in February 1999.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn said in her ruling: “In the interest of judgment and fairness, the state’s motion to vacate judgment … is hereby granted. The defendant will be released and placed on remote monitoring … The state will have 30 days to refile or nolle pros. At this time, we will remove the shackles off of Mr. Syed.”

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said her office awaits DNA testing and that the case continues to be investigated. They have to decide within 30 days whether to go to a new trial or nolle pros.

Syed kept his hands on his lap and looked forward during the hearing. His attorney was wiping tears from her eyes while the judge announced her decision.

“Today, my friend and client Adnan Syed walks free for the first time in 23 years. In 1999, Adnan was a senior at Woodlawn High School. He had been accepted to college with plans to major in pre-med. Those dreams were ended with Adnan was accused of the brutal murder of his friend and classmate, Hae Min Lee,” Assistant Public Defender and Innocence Project Clinic Director Erica Suter said.

Maryland Public Defender Natasha Dartigue released a statement, saying: “Adnan Syed never should have waited this long for his name to be cleared and his freedom restored. The information pointing to other, more likely, suspects was within the possession of the state’s attorney’s office for 23 years. Withholding evidence is unconscionable and morally reprehensible.

“I applaud my colleague, Assistant Public Defender and Innocence Project Clinic Director Erica Suter for her outstanding work which led the state to correct this injustice. It is her tenacity, thoroughness and commitment which got us here today.

“As public defenders, we are at the forefront of uncovering withheld evidence and shining light on the grave issues and wrongs. The state must continue to correct past injustice and engage in meaningful reform focused on preventing wrongful convictions and prosecutions. OPD is proud to be part of this critical moment in Mr. Syed’s journey and we remain steadfast in our commitment to him and similarly situated individuals.”

| PDF: Read full statement from the public defender for Syed

Hearing starts with statement from Lee’s brother

The judge ruled against a motion from the attorney for Lee’s family to postpone the hearing until the family can participate. The judge granted a 30-minute recess for the attorney to reach Lee’s brother in California so he could participate in the hearing via Zoom.

The hearing resumed shortly after 3:30 p.m. and heard from Lee’s brother, who asked the judge to make the “right decision,” saying he feels the motion is unfair, especially for his family, which has trusted the courts: “This is not a podcast for me. It’s real life that will never end — it’s been 20-plus years. It’s a nightmare … This is killing us,” he said.

Steve Kelly, an attorney for the Lee family, said outside the courthouse after the hearing: “We are disappointed that today’s hearing happened so quickly with, unfortunately, no notice and that the court acted the way it did and that the prosecutor’s office made the recommendation the way that they did. This family is interested in the pursuit of justice. They want to know more than anybody who it was that killed Hae Min Lee.”

LEE FAMILY STATEMENT

Kelly also released a statement on behalf of the family, saying: “For more than 20 years, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office has told the family of Hae Min Lee that their beloved daughter and sister was murdered by Adnan Syed. One week ago, for the first time, the family was informed that, through a year-long investigation that is apparently still ongoing, the state had uncovered new facts and would be filing a motion to vacate Mr. Syed’s conviction.

“For more than 20 years, no one has wanted to know the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee more than her family.

“The Lee family is deeply disappointed that today’s hearing happened so quickly and that they were denied the reasonable notice that would have permitted them to have a meaningful voice in the proceedings.”

Prosecutor lays out new evidence found

Next, the prosecutor asked the judge to set a new trial date and release Syed on his own recognizance, pending a decision on whether to go to trial.

“If this is granted, we will continue to investigate and possibly ask for a new trial,” the prosecutor said.

Video below: The moment Adnan Syed was released from court

Prosecutors then put on the record the new evidence and information they said their investigation uncovered this year. Prosecutors said their new investigation revealed information about two other potential suspects who may have been involved. Prosecutors said that based on the new potential suspect information, problematic cellphone evidence, DNA testing and Brady violations when it came informing the defense, they are pursing this motion to vacate.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh released a statement, saying: “Among the other serious problems with the motion to vacate, the allegations related to Brady violations are incorrect.

“Neither State’s Attorney Mosby nor anyone from her office bothered to consult with either the assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted the case or with anyone in my office regarding these alleged violations. The file in this case was made available on several occasions to the defense.”

The state said cellphone tower records were unreliable and should not have been presented at trial. The state conferred “the location of the actual phone during incoming calls could not be conclusively determined” and the evidence should not have come in. The state said the prosecution really had no case against Syed without the cellphone evidence, telling the judge the case was flimsy at best.

“The state has overwhelming cause to question the reliability of the defendant’s conviction,” the prosecutor said.

The motion to vacate from prosecutors says the evidence against Syed in the previous trial was largely circumstantial, and they lacked confidence “in the integrity of the conviction.”

The defense agreed with the state. The defense attorney began remarks by expressing condolences to the Lee family.

“My client is innocent,” the defense attorney said.

Video below: Baltimore City state’s attorney speaks after ruling

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You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

This content is imported from Twitter.
You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

This content is imported from Twitter.
You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

SOURCE: https://www.wbaltv.com/article/adnan-syed-conviction-vacated/41278447

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