Monday, October 3, 2022

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US court seeks to vacate murder conviction in Adnan Syed case

Syed was found guilty in 2000 at the age of 17 of killing his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore but has always maintained his innocence after decades behind bars.

Baltimore prosecutors have asked a court to reject the 2000 murder conviction of a man found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend in a case that drew national attention when the podcast Serial cast doubt on his guilt let arise.

Adnan Syed, 42, has always maintained his innocence in the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee, who was choked to death and buried in a Baltimore park.

Syed, who was 17 at the time of the murder and has served more than 20 years in prison, will either be retried or released if the court grants the motion to vacate the conviction.

In a Wednesday court filing, prosecutors said evidence indicated two other possible suspects in the case could have been involved in the woman’s death.

“The motion filed today supports a new trial against Syed based on a nearly year-long investigation that revealed undisclosed and newly developed information about two alternative suspects as well as unreliable cell tower data,” prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s office said in a news release.

Syed has maintained his innocence for decades, drawing the attention of millions in 2014 when the serial podcast’s first season focused on the case and cast doubt on some of the evidence, including cell tower data.

Prosecutors said they did not claim Syed was innocent but lacked confidence “in the integrity of the conviction” and recommended he be released on his own or on bail.

“We believe it would be unfair to hold Mr Syed while we continue to investigate the case with what we now know if we have no confidence in the results of the first trial,” Mosby added.

Prosecutors said if the court granted his request, it would effectively place Syed in a new trial status and his convictions would be overturned, but the case would remain active.

“Whether the state ultimately continues the process in this matter or drops the charges will depend on the outcome of the ongoing investigation,” the prosecutor said.

The two suspects could be involved individually or together, he added.

One of the suspects had threatened Lee, saying, “He would make her disappear. He would kill her,” the file says.

“Given the bewildering lack of reliable evidence implicating Mr. Syed, coupled with mounting evidence pointing to other suspects, this unfair conviction cannot stand,” said Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter, Mr. Syed’s attorney and director of the 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.”

The suspects were known people at the time of the original investigation and have not been properly disqualified or disclosed to the defense, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also said new information showed one of the suspects was convicted of assaulting a woman in her vehicle, and one of the suspects was convicted of serial rape and sexual assault.

Because of the ongoing investigation, the public prosecutor’s office did not want to give any information about the suspects.

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