Prosecutors move to vacate Syed’s conviction

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore prosecutors asked a judge Wednesday to vacate Adnan Saeed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled on the hit podcast “Serial.”

Baltimore’s state’s attorney filed a motion in circuit court saying a lengthy investigation with the defense turned up new evidence that could undermine the conviction of Saeed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office said, “The motion filed today supports a new trial for Syed based on a nearly year-long investigation that included two alternative suspects as well as unknowns about unreliable cell phone tower data. And newly developed information was revealed. News release.

Syed, 42, has maintained his innocence for decades and gained the attention of millions in 2014 when the first season of the “Serial” podcast focused on the case and cast doubt on some evidence, including cellphone tower data.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they were not claiming that Saeed was innocent, but that they lacked confidence in the “honesty of the charge” and recommended that he be released on his own recognizance or bail.

Mosby added, “We believe that to continue to investigate the case because of what we know now, when we do not rely on the results of the first trial, would be unjust.”

The state’s attorney’s office said that if the court grants its motion, it would effectively put Syed in a position for a new trial, and his convictions would be vacated, but the case would remain active.

“Whether the state ultimately pursues a prosecution in this case or dismisses the charges will depend on the outcome of the ongoing investigation,” the state’s attorney’s office said.

The prosecutor said that the re-investigation of the case has revealed evidence of the possible involvement of two other suspects besides Saeed. The state’s attorney’s office said the two suspects may be involved individually or together.

One of the suspects threatened Lee, “He’s going to make her (Ms. Lee) disappear. He’s going to kill her,” according to the filing.

“Given the incredible lack of credible evidence implicating Mr. Syed, with mounting evidence pointing to other suspects, this injustice cannot stand,” said Assistant Public Defender Erica Sutter, Mr. Syed’s attorney and director of the Innocence Project Clinic. said “Mr Syed is grateful that this information has finally seen the light of day and looks forward to his day in court.

Prosecutors said the suspects were known at the time of the original investigation and had not been properly ruled out or told to the defense.

Prosecutors said the investigation also found a separate document from the original case file, in which a different person provided information that could be seen as the same suspect’s motive for harming the victim. The state’s attorney’s office said information about threats and intent to harm could have provided a basis for the defense and was not disclosed to defense counsel at trial or post-conviction.

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

The state attorney’s office declined to release information about the suspects because of the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors also noted unreliable cellphone data used during Saeed’s court case to confirm his whereabouts on the day of the crime. The notice on records specifically advised that billing locations for incoming calls “shall not be considered reliable location information.”

“The evidence established that the state should not have relied on the incoming call evidence,” the state’s attorney’s office said.

Syed has served more than 20 years in prison for strangling Lee, who was 18 at the time. His body was found buried in a Baltimore park several weeks later.

More than a decade later, the popular “Serial” podcast revealed little-known evidence and attracted millions of listeners, breaking podcast-streaming and downloading records.

In 2016, a lower court ordered a retrial for Syed on the grounds that his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, did not contact an alibi witness and provided ineffective counsel.

But after a series of appeals, the Maryland Supreme Court in 2019 denied a new trial in a 4-3 opinion. The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that Saeed’s legal counsel was deficient in failing to cross-examine the alibi witness, but disagreed that the omission prejudiced the case. The court said Saeed had waived his claim of ineffective counsel.

The US Supreme Court declined to review Saeed’s case in 2019.

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