After 23 years in prison, Adnan Syed is a free man. Baltimore prosecutors on Tuesday announced they were dropping charges against the 41-year-old and subject of the hit podcast Serial, reports The New York Times. Prior to his release in September, Syed had been serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
The decision comes after a judge last month overturned Syed’s prison sentence on the recommendation of prosecutors, who said the state was no longer confident of the conviction. At that point, prosecutors had 30 days to decide whether to move forward with a new trial or drop charges. Where the case of Lee’s murder goes from here is hard to say. In September, following a nearly yearlong investigation, the state said it had found two possible “alternative suspects.” However, the public identity of those individuals is not known yet.
A Baltimore prosecutor stumbles upon two handwritten notes in Adnan’s case file. They change everything. A new episode from season one, out now. https://t.co/0O60tPrtxS
— Serial (@serial) September 20, 2022
While Syed maintained his innocence throughout the two decades he was in prison, it’s fair to he probably wouldn’t be free today if not for Serial. His case attracted global attention in 2014 after it was chronicled by former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig in the podcast’s breakout first season. Koenig spent more than a year investigating the specifics of Syed’s case, paying particular attention to the conduct of Cristina Gutierrez, his lawyer at the time. The issues she highlighted proved to be critical in the state’s reassessment of Syed’s case.
In 2019, for instance, Maryland’s highest court found Gutierrez had failed to properly investigate an alibi witness ahead of Syed’s trial. More recently, the state investigation found “reliability issues” with some of the evidence that was used to convict Syed and that prosecutors may have failed to disclose evidence that would have aided his case.