Baltimore prosecutors have dropped the charges against Adnan Syed, who was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999.
Syed was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 at the age of 17 after he was found guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Syed’s case, which became the subject of the first season of the hit podcast “Serial,” gained national attention in 2014. The case was also turned into a 2019 HBO docuseries titled “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”
After spending 23 years in prison, he was released on Sept. 19 after his conviction was overturned when it was revealed that trial prosecutors failed to properly turn over evidence to defense lawyers that could have pointed to other suspects in Lee’s murder.
City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to push for a new trial or dismiss the charges.
On Tuesday morning, the office confirmed that they had dropped the charges against Syed. According to the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, the state’s attorney reportedly dropped the charges due to the new results of DNA testing “that excluded Mr. Syed from the DNA recovered from the evidence.”
“Finally, Adnan Syed is able to live as a free man,” Erica J. Suter, Syed’s lawyer, reportedly said in a statement. “The DNA results confirmed what we have already known and what underlies all of the current proceedings: that Adnan is innocent and lost 23 years of his life serving time for a crime he did not commit.”
At the hearing last month, Becky Feldman, a prosecutor in the state’s attorney’s office, said that the investigation “acknowledged justice has been denied to Ms. Lee and her family by not assuring the correct assailant was brought to justice.”
“The state has lost confidence in the integrity of this conviction and believes that it is in the interest of justice and fairness that his convictions be vacated,” Feldman previously stated.
Syed was released without bail and placed on home detention with GPS location monitoring.
Syed previously attended Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County with Lee. Her strangled body was discovered in a clandestine grave in Leakin Park three weeks after she disappeared in January 1999. At the time, police suspected Syed to be the killer due to his purported emotional state after their breakup.
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