Adnan Syed: What happens next for the Serial podcast subject and the murder case of Hae Min Lee?
Adnan Syed was released from a Baltimore court on Monday — 23 years after his first prison sentence for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Lee Hae-min.
Lee, 18, disappeared on January 13, 1999, after leaving Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, Maryland.
About a month later, her body was found buried in a shallow grave in Likin Park, Baltimore. She was strangled.
A few weeks later, her car was found abandoned.
Said, who was 17 at the time and had recently split from Lee, was arrested and charged with murder. In 2000, he was sentenced to life in prison for murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
After spending more than two decades proving his innocence, his case passed serial Podcast – Sayed’s sentence was overturned on Monday and he is finally back with his family.
But with Syed’s beliefs now being overturned, what happens next?
Will Syed be retried for Lee’s murder?
Will one of the other suspects face charges?
Or is it cold now?
First, Syed isn’t completely free yet.
On Monday, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn ordered the 41-year-old to be released in her own name and held at home under GPS surveillance.
Under state law, prosecutors now have 30 days to decide whether to drop the charges against him or set a date for a new trial against him.
Outside court Monday, Baltimore City State Attorney Marilyn Mosby did not say Syed was innocent of Lee’s murder or excused him.
Instead, Ms Mosby said, Syed – innocent or guilty – deserved a fair trial.
Last week, Ms Mosby filed a motion for his release, laying out several issues surrounding Saeed’s 2000 conviction.
That includes evidence about two other potential suspects that wasn’t turned over to the defense, the admissibility of cellphone data used to place him at the crime scene and the unreliability of the state’s star witnesses.
Ms Mosby said the state was now awaiting the results of the DNA test, which it hoped would spur the investigation.
In March, prosecutors and Syed’s defense attorneys jointly filed a request that Lee’s clothes be tested with a new touch DNA test, which was not available at the time of the initial trial. The analysis came back in August without any conclusions.
However, Ms Mosby said on Monday that further testing is now underway, which will be fast-tracked to try to uncover new information before the 30-day deadline.
She added that if the test returned Syed’s DNA, then her office would file a new lawsuit against him.
However, legal experts said it was “highly unlikely” that Syed faced a retrial.
Duncan Levin, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a prominent criminal defense attorney at Levin & Associates who has represented clients such as Harvey Weinstein and Anna Sorokin, said independent On Tuesday, he believed it marked the end of Syed’s two-year legal battle.
“It’s pretty much the end of the road,” he said.
“It’s the prosecution’s motion to set aside the sentence, so I think they may need some time to sort out the file, but at the moment I think it’s highly unlikely he will get a new court date in the next 30 days.”
However, this does not necessarily mean prosecutors believe he is innocent, Mr Levine explained.
“Whether he is guilty or innocent, the right thing to do at this point is to drop the charges against him,” he said.
“There was enough doubt about his beliefs that it was clearly the right thing to do.
“It’s been a long road, and anyone who’s been following the case — that’s millions — has come to the conclusion that there’s enough doubt about his conviction to drop it and drop the charges.”
He added: “There’s one difference: they didn’t declare him innocent, but there was enough suspicion that it couldn’t stand.”
Mr Levine said it was unlikely that prosecutors would not know what they would do when the 30-day deadline came.
“I can’t imagine they don’t know which direction they’re going,” he said, adding that he thought it was likely they were already planning to drop all charges against the 41-year-old.
If Syed’s charges were dropped, Lee’s murder would hang in the balance.
According to Ms Mosby’s office, the two alternate suspects were credible and both were known to the original murder investigation.
Prosecutors said one of the suspects had a motive to kill Li and threatened to “make her disappear and kill her.”
The names of the two suspects have not been released, but investigators are said to be keen to speak to them as they seek justice for Lee’s family.
“To the family of the murdered 18-year-old girl, [the prosecutors] duty to find out [who is responsible],” Mr Levine said.
Of course, it’s certainly possible that prosecutors will bring new charges against Syed at some point in the future if new evidence comes to light after the 30 days have elapsed and the current charges are dropped.
But given the “loopholes” in the case against him, Mr Levine said it was also “highly unlikely”.
“I don’t think it’s likely that prosecutors will charge him,” he said.
“This could be the end of the case. They will continue to investigate, but at the moment it’s a fairly old case.
“For Mr Saeed at least, I think it’s over.”