Adnan Syed, Subject Of 'Serial' Podcast, Has Charges Dropped Against Him by Prosecutors in 1999 Killing

Adnan Syed
Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Prosecutors dropped charges against Adnan Syed on Tuesday in the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Adnan Syed on Tuesday in the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee, a case that was chronicled in the hit podcast Serial. Emily Witty, a spokeswoman for the city of Baltimore's state's attorney's office, said in an email that her office had dropped its case against Syed and would release further details about its decision later Tuesday.

Laura Nirider, a co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law who accompanied Syed when he walked out of prison last month, tweeted: "Breaking news: After the latest round of DNA testing generated results that, like previous rounds of testing, excluded Adnan Syed, he has now been formally exonerated!"

Erica Suter, a lawyer who has represented Syed in court during his push to be freed, confirmed the charges were dropped to CBS News.

"Finally, Adnan Syed is able to live as a free man," Suter said. "The DNA results confirmed what we have already known and what underlies all of the current proceedings: that Adnan is innocent and lost 23 years of his life serving time for a crime he did not commit."

A Baltimore judge last month overturned Syed's murder conviction and ordered him released from prison, where the 41-year-old had spent more than two decades. Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn also gave prosecutors 30 days in which to decide whether to retry Syed or drop the charges.

Phinn ruled that the state violated its legal obligation to share evidence that could have bolstered Syed's defense. Syed was placed on home detention with GPS location monitoring.

Syed has maintained his innocence for decades and captured the attention of millions in 2014 when the debut season of "Serial" focused on the case and raised doubts about some of the evidence, including cellphone tower data.

Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby told CBS Baltimore in September she was waiting on DNA tests before deciding whether to retry Syed.

"If that DNA comes back inconclusive, I will certify that he's innocent," Mosby told the station. "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."

This story was originally published by CBS News on Oct. 11, 2022 at 11:19 a.m. ET.