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Murder conviction of Adnan Syed, 'Serial' podcast subject, should be vacated, prosecutors say

Syed was convicted of killing Hae Min Lee, a former girlfriend, in 1999 and burying her body in Leakin Park in Baltimore. His case gained fame after the "Serial" podcast examined his cause.
Officials escort Adnan Syed from the courthouse following the completion of the first day of hearings for a retrial in Baltimore on Feb. 3, 2016.
Officials escort Adnan Syed from the courthouse after the first day of hearings for a retrial in Baltimore on Feb. 3, 2016.Karl Merton / Baltimore Sun via Getty Images file

Maryland prosecutors on Wednesday sought to vacate the murder conviction of a man whose case was made famous by the "Serial" podcast, saying they lack "confidence in the integrity" of the verdict.

Adnan Syed was tried and convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee and sentenced to life behind bars before the popular podcast in 2014 raised questions about his guilt.

"To be clear, the State is not asserting, at this time, that Mr. Syed is innocent," the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office said in a statement.

"While the investigation remains ongoing, when considering the totality of the circumstances, the State lacks confidence in the integrity of the conviction and requests that Mr. Syed be afforded a new trial."

Lee, 18, vanished in early 1999, and her body was found weeks later in Leakin Park. She had been strangled. Syed, 18 at the time of the killing and 41 now, was eventually accused.

His first trial ended in a mistrial before prosecutors won conviction in a second trial.

Prosecutors said they now question "unreliable cellphone tower data" and want to look at "two alternative suspects."

"For that reason, after a nearly yearlong investigation reviewing the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and the latest evidence can be presented," State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement.

"As stewards of the court, we are obligated to uphold confidence in the integrity of convictions and do our part to correct when this standard has been comprised. We have spoken with the family of Ms. Hae Min Lee and fully understand that the person responsible for this heinous crime must be held accountable."

Representatives for Lee's family could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

A circuit judge overturned Syed’s conviction in 2016; Maryland’s highest court reinstated it in 2019.