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Adnan Syed Prosecutor Says She’ll ‘Certify He’s Innocent’ Depending On DNA Test

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she will drop charges against Adnan Syed and not seek a new trial against him in the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend depending on the results of new DNA testing that’s currently underway.

“If that DNA comes back inconclusive, I will certify that he’s innocent,” Mosby told Baltimore station WJZ News on Tuesday. “If it comes back to two alternative suspects, I will certify that he’s innocent. If it comes back to Adnan Syed, the state is still in a position to proceed upon the prosecution.”

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn on Monday gave Mosby’s office 30 days to decide whether they will pursue new charges against Syed or drop the case.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (left) discusses the release of Adnan Syed after his conviction was overturned on Monday. Syed’s mother, Shamim Syed (right), looks on with another son, standing behind Mosby.

The 41-year-old was released from prison Monday on his own recognizance after prosecutors argued that they no longer had faith in his 2000 conviction that he’s served more than 20 years for and that was covered by the hit podcast “Serial” in 2014. Syed, who was sentenced to life in prison for Lee’s strangulation death as a juvenile, has maintained his innocence.

Phinn had agreed back in March to order new DNA testing in Lee’s murder following a request by prosecutors and Syed’s defense team. The tests being performed by a California crime lab involve DNA technology that was not available during Syed’s murder trial.

Mosby’s office, in a motion filed last week, said they weren’t asserting that Syed is innocent but that they had uncovered new evidence that potentially links two other suspects with Hae Min Lee’s murder. These two individuals, not publicly identified, were already known in relation to the case.

Becky Feldman, a prosecutor with Mosby’s office, said they found new evidence in a case file during a recent yearlong investigation into Lee’s murder. Handwritten notes by one of her predecessors identified the two suspects and allegations that one of them had at one point threatened to kill Lee. This information was not shared with Syed’s defense team.

Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse after Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn on Monday overturned his first-degree murder conviction in the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee.
Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse after Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn on Monday overturned his first-degree murder conviction in the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee.

Baltimore Sun via Getty Images

“I understand how difficult this is, but we need to make sure we hold the correct person accountable,” Feldman told the judge Monday.

Lee’s family has expressed opposition to the judge’s decision to release Syed.

Her brother, Young Lee, told the court on Monday that he felt “betrayed” having believed the right person had been brought to justice.

“This is not a podcast for me,” he said. “It’s real life that will never end; it’s been 20-plus years. It’s a nightmare. … This is killing us,” he said.

An attorney for Lee’s family, Steve Kelly, similarly blasted Mosby’s motion, saying it caught the family by surprise and wasn’t reasonably explained to them.

“Whether or not Adnan is guilty is beside the point,” Kelly told CNN. “What happened yesterday… they were completely excluded from the process. This is a preordained agreement between the state’s attorney, the defense, even the court.”


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