Baltimore prosecutors drop charges against Adnan Syed because last ditch DNA tests exclude Syed – Baltimore Sun

Baltimore prosecutors dropped charges Tuesday against Adnan Syed, whose legal story gained international fame thanks to the hit podcast “Serial.”

The sudden move comes after Syed’s conviction in the 1999 murder case of Hae Min Lee was overturned last month. However, as City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office pondered whether to dismiss or retry him in the death of his Woodlawn High School sweetheart, his murder, kidnapping and robbery charges arose.

Mosby said his decision rested on new, recent DNA testing conducted on evidence collected in the decades-old murder. DNA test results excluded Syed, the public defender’s office representing Syed said in a news release after court Tuesday.

“Finally, Adnan Syed is able to live as a free man,” Syed’s attorney Erica Sutter said in a statement. “The DNA results confirmed what we already knew and the basis of all the current proceedings: Adnan was innocent and lost 23 years of his life for a crime he did not commit.”

Suter, who is also director of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law, participated with city attorneys in the year-long investigation. Together, prosecutors tracked down the two men they now consider Alternative suspects On Lee’s death. Both suspects were known to authorities all along, but at least one was not disclosed to Syed’s defense, they said.

The revelation led Mosby’s office to vacate Syed’s conviction, saying his lawyers had lost faith in his guilty verdict. On September 19, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Finn threw out Syed’s conviction and gave Mosby’s office a 30-day deadline to decide what to do about Syed’s case.

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Mosby said last month His decision in Syed’s case hinged on pending DNA The investigation is based on evidence that Lee was killed. Ahead of the final round of DNA tests in the case, results revealed for the first time Tuesday show that analysis of genetic material collected during the investigation into Lee’s death proved largely inconclusive and futile.

But Mosby, a Democrat serving his second and final term as the city’s top prosecutor, said he was willing to certify Syed’s innocence if DNA testing was inconclusive or indicated. to another suspect. He said his office would try Syed again if DNA was implicated in the murder.

If she formally declares Syed innocent, she will receive significant financial benefits from the state for being wrongly imprisoned for more than two decades. Under the Walter Lomax Act, Syed will receive nearly $2.2 million for years served in prison. According to state law, he is entitled to five years of health care, housing and free education.

In September, a month after Syed’s guilty plea was thrown out, Finn scheduled a court date for Oct. 19. Tuesday morning’s hearing in Reception Court was not recorded in online court records.

Mosby’s office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning, but the state’s attorney is expected to hold a press conference at 1 p.m.

After Syed’s conviction was overturned, Lee’s family appealed, Mosby’s office argued, neglected to provide adequate notice to attend the hearing. The family asked the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to stay the proceedings in circuit court while the court considered their appeal.

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Just last week, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosch joined Lee’s family In asking the state intermediate appellate court to stay Syed’s case in the trial court.

Frosh criticized Mosby’s handling of the latest case after his office represented the state on Syed’s repeated appeals. Frosch cast doubt on the basis city attorneys presented in favor of overturning Syed’s conviction.

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It is not clear what the Mars development means for the family’s appeal.

Frosh declined to comment through a spokeswoman, while Lee’s family attorney did not return a request for comment.

Lee, 18, was strangled and buried in a secret grave in Leek’s Park. A man found her body three weeks after she was last seen at the high school. At the time, police and prosecutors suspected Syed killed Lee because he was distraught over the breakup.

Syed went on trial in 1999 and 2000. The state’s case relied on witness testimony, cell phone call records, and Syed’s own statements; Little, if any, physical evidence linked him to the murder. After a second trial, a jury found him guilty of murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment. The judge sentenced him to life imprisonment and 30 years in prison.

Syed, who was arrested at the age of 17 and has been in prison for 23 years, was released last month by Elijah E. Cummings walked out of court. He was placed under GPS monitoring pending a decision by prosecutors on how to proceed with his case.

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This article will be updated.

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