Alicia Dye | News Editor
Sept. 22, 2022
After serving 23 years for first-degree murder, Adnan Syed was freed from prison Sept. 19 after a judge vacated his conviction It was long awaited and well deserved.
Syed was charged and convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and robbery after his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, went missing. Her body was found almost a month after she went missing.
Syed was investigated after police learned he had apparently stated that he wanted to murder Lee. However, Syed has maintained his innocence since his arrest and convicted, even turning down a plea bargain in 2018 for a shortened sentence. Syed appealed his conviction multiple times throughout his time in prison.
There has been plenty of evidence that came out after Syed’s conviction, a lot of it proving that his counsel at trial was ineffective. Syed’s counsel failed to interview an alibi witness, who said they were with Syed at the time prosecutors said he attacked Lee.
In 2015, Syed’s new counsel brought forward new evidence that the cell tower evidence used by prosecutors was misleading and should not have been admitted at trial. His new counsel also brought up two other suspects in the case. Syed’s conviction was overturned in 2016, but the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the overturned conviction in 2018, keeping Syed in prison for another four years.
While it is good that Syed is now free, Syed should have been freed years ago.
A guilty conviction in court means that the jury is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime.
For Syed, there was a lot of evidence against him, but also some for him, even in the years after his conviction, including a DNA test. Syed’s DNA did not match any of the DNA present at the crime scene.
Since the popular podcast Serial, many have debated about Syed’s innocence, but believe that he did not commit the crime. Yet, it took until 2022, four years after the DNA evidence cleared him, to vacate his conviction.
The legal system within the United States has had a history of freeing innocent minorities too late. For Syed, who is Muslim, he’s maintained his innocence since day one, yet it took 23 years to vacate his sentence. For other minorities in the U.S., it can take even longer.
In Delaware, a Black teen got his sentence vacated after 91 years, after he had been executed. George Stinley Jr, a 14-year-old Black teen had his sentence vacated in 2014, 70 years after his conviction which took a jury 10 minutes to deliberate. Stinley was sentenced to death by electrocution and was executed later.
For many minorities, justice comes too late. Syed deserved his freedom years ago, before the case got major attention in the media. He deserved a better trial and deserved to prove his innocence with counsel who supported him and looked into every detail.
He deserved it sooner, like many within the justice system do.