‘Serial’ host: Evidence that freed Syed was long available

 

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The creator of a true-crime podcast that helped free a Maryland man imprisoned for twenty years stated Tuesday that she feels a mixture of feelings over how long it took authorities to behave on proof that’s long been available.

The choose’s order to launch Adnan Syed and vacate his homicide conviction Monday got here after the native prosecutor began a unit to overview sentencing and a brand new Maryland regulation referring to juvenile sentencing supplied a mechanism for reexamining the case, all after the “Serial” podcast in 2014 turned the main points of the case into an obsession for numerous beginner sleuths.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby instantly applauded the choose’s determination as a victory for justice, however Syed’s win got here as a bittersweet reminder to those that had been conscious of the gaps within the case for years. In a brand new episode of “Serial” launched Tuesday, host Sarah Koenig famous that most or all the proof cited in prosecutors’ movement to overturn the conviction was available since 1999.

“Yesterday, there was a lot of talk about fairness, but most of what the state put in that motion to vacate, all the actual evidence, was either known or knowable to cops and prosecutors back in 1999,” Koenig stated. “So even on a day when the government publicly recognizes its own mistakes, it’s hard to feel cheered about a triumph of fairness. Because we’ve built a system that takes more than 20 years to self-correct. And that’s just this one case.”

Koenig argued that the case in opposition to Syed concerned “just about every chronic problem” within the system, together with unreliable witness testimony and proof that was by no means shared with Syed’s protection workforce.

On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn in Baltimore ordered Syed’s launch after overturning his conviction for the 1999 homicide of highschool scholar Hae Min Lee, Syed’s ex-girlfriend. Syed, 41, has all the time maintained his innocence however in 2019 the state’s highest court docket had rejected his enchantment for a brand new trial.

At the behest of prosecutors who stated that they had lately uncovered new proof, Phinn dominated that the state violated its authorized obligation to share proof that might have bolstered Syed’s protection. The choose stated the state should resolve whether or not to hunt a brand new trial date or dismiss the case inside 30 days.

Mosby, who entered workplace in 2015, filed a movement final week to vacate Syed’s conviction, a submitting that Koenig described as a “firework” coming from the identical workplace that requested a jury to convict Syed years in the past.

In the “Serial” episode posted Tuesday, Koenig broke down prosecutors’ movement and described how some proof they cited was featured within the podcast, whereas different proof – together with the proof of different doable suspects – grew to become public extra lately.

Key to Monday’s final result was proof uncovered by a unit that Mosby’s workplace launched to reexamine circumstances by which juvenile defendants got life sentences. That labored in tandem with a 2021 Maryland regulation that permits somebody convicted as a juvenile to hunt a lowered sentence after serving at the very least 20 years. Syed was 17 when Lee was killed.

Prosecutor Becky Feldman led the unit and located notes written by considered one of her predecessors describing two cellphone calls by which individuals gave them data earlier than Syed’s trial about somebody with a motive to hurt Lee. That data wasn’t given to the protection on the time, in accordance prosecutors, an omission that Phinn stated violated Syed’s rights.

Koenig famous that she knew who these two new potential suspects had been – and so did detectives who investigated Syed twenty years in the past – however declined to call them as a result of they haven’t been charged.

“One of (the suspects) was investigated at the time, submitted to a couple of polygraphs. The other was investigated also, but not with much vigor, as far as I can tell,” she stated.

Other supporting proof on the unreliability of a key witness and questions on cellphone information was beforehand featured on “Serial,” Koenig stated.

“If you’ve listened to our show you probably remember all of this,” Koenig stated.

Koenig stated the present delved into questions on cellphone information that prosecutors used to bolster the witness’s testimony. But she acknowledged that knowledgeable evaluation utilized by prosecutors to reach at their present movement wasn’t absolutely explored on the present.

“We didn’t get to the bottom of this incoming call problem back when we were reporting this story,” she stated.

In the years since “Serial” chronicled Syed’s case and remodeled the true-crime style, quite a few breakthroughs have are available different circumstances examined by like-minded podcasters.

In Sydney, Australia, final month, a 74-year-old man was convicted of killing his spouse in 1982, costs introduced after police launched a renewed investigation primarily based on a circumstantial case made in opposition to him within the standard podcast “The Teacher’s Pet.”

A prolonged homicide trial can also be underway in Salinas, California, in opposition to a person for the dying of Kirstin Smart, a freshman who vanished from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 1996. The sheriff has stated the “Your Own Backyard” podcast helped produce new data and prompted witnesses to talk with detectives.

And the podcast “In the Dark” obtained a recorded recantation from a jailhouse informant that, along with an evaluation of racial bias by a Mississippi prosecutor in jury choice, preceded the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2019 determination to overturn the homicide conviction and dying sentence of Curtis Flowers. Flowers, a Black man, had been convicted within the taking pictures dying of 4 individuals in a furnishings retailer in 1996. Mississippi prosecutors later dropped costs in opposition to him.

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Associated Press Writer Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

 

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