Syed was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 17 in 1999 for the murder of his then-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The story of Lee’s murder was told in the 2014 podcast Serial.
Today (September 19), Judge Melissa M. Phinn in Baltimore, Maryland, ordered the release of Syed after new evidence was discovered by prosecutors, according to ABC News.
In 2000, Syed was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and imprisonment of Lee following her death. He continued to maintain his innocence and deny any involvement in the crimes.
Phinn has now ordered that Syed be released from prison and put on home detention in light of new evidence, and ordered the state to decide whether to set another trial date or dismiss the case within 30 days.
Prosecutors have revealed the possible involvement of two suspects following a year long investigation conducted alongside Syed’s defence team.
“After a nearly year-long investigation reviewing the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and the latest evidence can be presented,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement.
“We believe that keeping Mr. Syed detained as we continue to investigate the case with everything that we know now, when we do not have confidence in results of the first trial, would be unjust.”
She added that prosecutors are “not asserting, at this time, that Mr. Syed is innocent” but that the state “lacks confidence in the integrity of the conviction” and that a new trial should be set.
In 2019, Syed was refused a new trial by the US Supreme Court after being granted one in 2018. A forthcoming date for another one now has not yet been set.