Adnan Syed, subject of the first season of wildly popular podcast Serial, was released from prison on Monday after having his 1999 conviction for the murder of his former girlfriend was overturned. Syed, 41, had been serving a life sentence and long maintained he was innocent of the crime.
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn said Syed’s conviction for the murder of Hae Min Lee was flawed, according to a report from NBC News on Monday.
Prosecutors failed to properly turn over evidence that could have allowed for “substantial and significant probability that the result would have been different,” Phinn said.
In Phinn’s ruling, according to NBC News, the judge vacated the murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment convictions against Syed, and the judge ordered him released without bail. Last week, prosecutors asked the conviction be vacated and for a new trial to be set.
Syed’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Erica Suter, who is also director of the Innocence Project, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Innocence Project at the University of Baltimore School of Law is a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing people it believes have been wrongfully convicted.
Syed was flung into national prominence when he became the subject of the first season of Serial in 2014. The podcast unearthed the case, followed key details and called into question the case prosecutors made against him. The podcast was downloaded over 100 million times and won a Peabody Award. It also led to a 2019 four-part documentary series on HBO titled The Case Against Adnan Syed.
Following the remarkable turn of events, the Serial Twitter account announced that a new episode would publish Tuesday, after host Sarah Koenig attended court Monday to see the conviction overturned.