News 09.19.22

Adnan Syed of “Serial” Walks Free After 23 Years in Prison

A judge vacated his conviction and granted him a new trial due to State's failure to disclose exculpatory evidence.

By Innocence Staff

Adnan Syed, center, whose case gained notoriety from the hit podcast “Serial,” leaves a courthouse after a judge vacated his 2000 murder conviction Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 in Baltimore. (Image: Steve Ruark/AP Images for The Innocence Project)

We welcome Judge Melissa Phinn’s decision to vacate the conviction of Adnan Syed, grant a new trial, and order his immediate release. Mr. Syed, who is represented by Erica Suter of the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic, has maintained his innocence throughout the 23 years of his wrongful imprisonment. The focus of the podcast “Serial” and HBO’s documentary “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” Mr. Syed was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his former high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The court concluded that Mr. Syed’s trial was unfair because the State failed to disclose key exculpatory evidence.

Mr. Syed’s case is a stark example of how the concealment of exculpatory evidence — known as a Brady violation — leads to wrongful convictions. In the last three months alone, the exonerations of Innocence Project clients Mallory Nicholson, John Galvan and, just last week, Herman Williams, all revealed Brady violations that contributed to the conviction and imprisonment of innocent people. And we know these are not isolated examples. A 2020 report by the National Registry of Exonerations, Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent, covering the nation’s first 2,400 exoneration cases, found that the concealment of exculpatory evidence is the most common type of misconduct and it occurred in 44% of those exonerations. 

The integrity of the legal system requires accountability for not only Mr. Syed’s wrongful conviction but also the pain the State’s unlawful conduct caused to Hae Min Lee’s family.

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  1. Debra Koontz says:

    All of these people who prosecuted his case should be held accountable, how do they sleep at night and stand for justice, when they are harming and framing the innocent. I realize the guilty need to be pay for their crimes, the way the system operates the guilty go free and the innocent are punished. I am so grateful and l thank God for the innocence project. May God add blessings to all on this journey

  2. Carolyn Delvalle says:

    When will the State’s Brady violators start to be prosecuted? When will DA’s start to be held accountable?? They so called are for the law? So when will they turn themselves in for destroying people’s lives?? This makes me so angry that so many people have spent their lives behind bars just for the PR!!
    Now it’s time for the innocent to rebuild their lives. I wish them all well. I hope they get into counseling so they are able to come back into society and process what has happened to them. I am sending them all a big hug from me!!

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