Deputy attorney general who handled 'Serial' case appeal for state leaving position

The deputy Attorney General who handled the "Serial" case appeal for the state is leaving the office

Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, a former top city prosecutor who represented the state in recent court proceedings in the "Serial" case, is leaving his post, the office confirmed.

The Attorney General's Office said Vignarajah will stay with the office until next month and was leaving on his own accord.

The office also said it would continue to pursue an appeal of a new trial ruling for Adnan Syed, whose 2000 conviction in the death of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee was overturned in June.

"We are very disappointed to see Thiru go, and the Attorney General is proud of his exceptional advocacy, leadership and hard work on this case and many other matters," the office said in a statement.

Reached by phone about his next move, Vignarajah said "I will share my news when it's appropriate to share my news."

Vignarajah joined the Attorney General's Office as a deputy after the election of Attorney General Brian Frosh in 2014. At the time, Vignarajah was head of the Major Investigations Unit for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office. Previously, he was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland.

Since last year, Vignarajah has been handling the appeal of Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction and questions about the case became the subject of the "Serial" podcast. Vignarajah argued against a new trial for Syed, saying he was convicted based on "overwhelming evidence."

"He did it, and the state proved it," Vignarajah said during a February hearing.

After the hearing, Syed's conviction was overturned by Judge Martin Welch. The state has filed an appeal that is pending, and said it will continue pursuing that appeal with other attorneys.

"A team of attorneys has always been responsible for this matter, and a team will continue handling this case moving forward," spokeswoman Raquel Coombs said in an e-mail. "Just as Thiru and our team have done so far, we will continue to pursue justice for the murder of Hae Min Lee, as the State's responsibility remains to defend what is a just and valid conviction."

An inter-office memo about his departure said Vignarajah "continues to pursue justice for the murder of Hae Min Lee."

Taking Vignarajah's place will be Carolyn Quattrocki, who currently serves as executive director for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. She previously worked for the Attorney General's Office as a special assistant to former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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