- Adnan Syed was previously accused and convicted of the first-degree murder of an ex-girlfriend and was serving a life sentence.
- He was the subject of the popular Serial podcast.
- Prosecutors dropped charges against him on October 11, 2022.
- The conviction was reinstated by a Maryland court in March 2023.
Adnan Syed, 41, was convicted of the first-degree murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Feb. 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. 22 years after the ruling, he was set free, and charges were dropped. Adnan’s conviction was vacated on Sept. 19, 2022 by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn because she believed the defense team was not given all the evidence they needed for Adnan’s case, per the New York Post. Plus, there are two other suspects connected to the case who were never ruled out of the investigation. On October 11, 2022, prosecutors officially dropped charges in the case that had made him infamous.
Furthermore, per CNN, Adnan’s DNA was not found on any of the 12 samples taken from Hae’s body or car that were tested. The tidbit was revealed by one of Adan’s attorneys in the 2019 HBO docuseries The Case Against Adnan Syed. But the story doesn’t end there — Adnan’s murder conviction was reportedly reinstated in March of 2023.
According to The New York Times, the Appellate Court of Maryland ruled that the court violated the rights of Hae Min Lee’s brother Young Lee. The lower court failed to give the family appropriate notice of the hearing that would ultimately set Adnan free and throw out his conviction.
So, who is the man who was imprisoned for 22 years in the controversial murder case? Read on to learn five facts about Adnan Syed and his case, as reports emerge that his conviction has been reinstated.
Adnan Is Not Completely Free
Adnan has maintained his innocence since he was arrested when he was just 17 years old. And although he has now been released from prison, he’s not a completely free man. Adnan’s release is based upon Judge Phinn’s belief that Adnan’s trial was unfair, and prosecutors have 30 days to dismiss his case or ask for a new trial. For the time being, he must wear an ankle monitor with GPS tracking.
“We’re not yet declaring Adnan Syed is innocent,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement, per CNN. “But we are declaring that in the interest of fairness and justice he is entitled to a new trial.” On Tuesday, October 11, prosecutors in the case dropped charges. Per NPR, Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, stated that recently tested DNA has exonerated him. “His DNA was excluded,” she said during a press conference the same day. She added that the investigation is ongoing and stressed that Adnan had spent “23 years in prison for a crime as a result of a wrongful conviction.”
Adnan Was Pleasantly Surprised By His Release
“He said he couldn’t believe it’s real,” Adnan’s attorney Erica Suter told reporters after his conviction was thrown out, per the New York Post. His mother was thrilled to have her son back, at least temporarily, and was photographed with a huge grin on her face as she gave him a warm hug.
Adnan’s Case Was At The Center Of A Popular Podcast
Adnan’s case first gained notoriety in 2014 when it was the subject of the first season of Sarah Koenig‘s true crime podcast, Serial. Sarah dug into his case and found faults in Adnan’s defense and the evidence used against him. The case gained widespread attention thanks to the 12-part true-crime series and even won a Peabody Award, per The Guardian. In 2016, shortly after Sarah’s podcast exploded on iTunes, a lower court judge motioned for a retrial, but that was eventually denied by the Maryland supreme court.
Not Everyone Was Happy About Adnan’s Release
Although many people who had their doubts about Adnan’s conviction are glad he has a chance at being a free man, the victim’s brother, whose sister was strangled to death in 1999, feels “betrayed”, according to The Post. “This is not a podcast for me. This is real life,” he said during the hearing on Sept. 19.
Maryland’s state attorney said she understands the brother’s frustrations, but said Adnan deserves another fair chance at proving his innocence. “I also understand the importance as the administer of the criminal justice system to ensure equality and justice and fairness,” she said in a press briefing. “That is entitled to the defendant, as well.”
An appellate court ultimately ruled that her brother’s rights were violated when he wasn’t given sufficient notice of the hearing that would set Adnan free. The Appellate Court of Maryland reinstated Adnan’s murder conviction in March of 2023, per PEOPLE magazine.
Adnan Is From Baltimore
Adnan was born in Baltimore, Md. on May 21, 1981, per The Sun. He is Muslim and his ancestral roots are in Pakistan.