Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she will drop the charges against Adnan Syed and not seek a new trial in the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend based on the results of new DNA testing currently underway.
“If that DNA comes back inconclusive, I will confirm that he is innocent,” Mosby told Baltimore station WJZ News on Tuesday. “If it comes back to the two alternative suspects, I will affirm that he is innocent. As far as Adnan Syed is concerned, the state is still in a position to proceed with the prosecution.
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Finn on Monday gave Mosby’s office 30 days to decide whether to file new charges against Syed or drop the case.
The 41-year-old was released from prison on his own recognizance Monday after prosecutors argued they did not believe the 2000 indictment, which he served more than 20 years and was covered by the hit podcast “Serial” in 2014. Sentenced to life in prison for strangling Lee as a juvenile, Syed maintains his innocence.
Finn agreed in March to order new DNA testing in Lee’s murder at the request of prosecutors and Syed’s defense team. Tests conducted by a California crime lab include DNA technology that was not available during the Syed murder trial.
Mosby’s office, in a motion filed last week, said it was not asserting Syed’s innocence, but that it had discovered new evidence that could potentially link two other suspects to Hye Min Lee’s murder. The two men, who have not been publicly identified, are already known to be involved in the case.
Becky Feldman, a prosecutor in Mosby’s office, said they discovered new evidence in a case file during the recent year-long investigation into Lee’s murder. Handwritten notes by one of her ancestors identified the two suspects, and one of them allegedly threatened to kill Lee. This information was not shared with Syed’s defense team.
“I understand how difficult it is, but we have to make sure we hold the right person accountable,” Feldman told the judge Monday.
Lee’s family protested the judge’s decision to release Syed.
Her brother, Young Lee, told the court on Monday that he felt “betrayed” for believing that the right person had been brought before the court.
“It’s not a podcast for me,” he said. “This is real life that never ends; It’s been 20-plus years. It’s a nightmare. … It’s killing us,” he said.
Lee’s family attorney, Steve Kelly, similarly blasted Mosby’s move, saying it caught the family by surprise and was not reasonably explained to them.
“Whether Adnan is guilty or not is beside the point,” Kelly told CNN. “What happened yesterday… they were completely excluded from the process. It is also a pre-determined agreement between the state attorney, the defense, and the court.