A judge on Monday vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, years after the hit podcast "Serial" chronicled his case and cast doubt on his role in the slaying of former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
City Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn said prosecutors made a compelling argument that Syed's convicted was flawed.
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She vacated murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment against Syed. The judge ordered him released without bail.
Syed, who has a full beard, appeared in court wearing a long-sleeve white dress shirt, dark tie and traditional Muslim skull cap.
Maryland prosecutors last week asked to vacate Syed's conviction and for a new trial, saying they lacked "confidence in the integrity" of the verdict.
Lee's brother, Young Lee, fought back tears as he addressed the court, wondering how this turn of events unfolded.
"This is real life, of a never ending nightmare for 20-plus years," the brother told the court via Zoom.
Steve Kelly, a lawyer for Lee's family asked Phinn to delay Monday's proceedings by seven days so the victim's brother could attend and address the court.
The family wasn't given enough time and didn't have an attorney to make a decision about appearing in court, according to Kelly.
"To suggest that the State's Attorney's Office has provided adequate notice under these circumstances is outrageous," Kelly told the court.
"My client is not a lawyer and was not counseled by an attorney as to his rights and to act accordingly."