The release of Adnan Syed from prison: Justice done — or undone? | READER COMMENTARY

Adnan Syed had his murder conviction overturned and is released after prosecutors raised doubts about his guilty finding because of the revelation of alternative suspects in the homicide and unreliable evidence used against him at trial.

Don’t be so quick to judge Syed innocent — or deserving of a new trial

I was an investigative paralegal in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office when former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig asked to inspect our file on Adnan Syed under the Maryland Public Information Act. I was assigned to read the file and redact it appropriately, withholding only identifying information about the witnesses and the families. My work was reviewed and approved by my superiors in the Conviction Integrity Unit of the state’s attorney’s office.

I do not recall any police report in the file that could reasonably amount to exculpatory information that pointed away from the mountain of evidence against Syed. I cannot be absolutely sure of this, of course, because the file is not currently available for inspection by outsiders.


After two trials, two post-convictions, review by the Court of Special Appeals, and what should be the last word from the Court of Appeals, there is little doubt in my mind that Syed killed Hae Min Lee (”War of words: Maryland AG Brian Frosh, Marilyn Mosby spar over evidence that led to Adnan Syed’s release,” Sept. 21).

I am strongly persuaded that the timing of the hearing that resulted in Syed’s release on Sept. 19 had everything to do with Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s own predicament. If Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby had not unexpectedly postponed the federal trial, the government would have been calling witnesses in Ms. Mosby’s trial on the very day that Judge Melissa Phinn released Syed.


Syed was allowed his freedom in order to suit Ms. Mosby’s purposes and help her solicit the support of the Syed lobby and she tries to defend her own case. She paints herself as the heroic progressive prosecutor more interested in justice than in convictions and for which the federal government has prosecuted her. Up go her chances for a hung jury next year.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh issued the following statement after Syed’s release on Monday:

“Among the other serious problems with the motion to vacate, the allegations related to Brady violations [exculpatory evidence] are incorrect.

Neither State’s Attorney Mosby nor anyone from her office bothered to consult with either the assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted the case or with anyone in my office regarding these alleged violations. The file in this case was made available on several occasions to the defense.”

Mosby now has 30 days from Monday, Sept. 19 to charge Syed and prepare to try him again. It is entirely in her hands. There is little doubt that she will simply drop the case forever.

Thus, Marilyn Mosby trades the life of Hae Min Lee for Syed’s 23 years in custody and lets him falsely add his name to the list of defendants wrongly convicted and imprisoned.

— Hal Riedl, Baltimore

Sun editorial board correct about questions in Syed case, just not which ones to ask

If all you’ve read are the headlines, and all you’ve listened to is “Serial,” then, yes, .there are too many questions about his release to have a celebration (”Adnan Syed’s release: Too many questions remain for celebration,” Sept. 20).  However, if you’ve taken a deep dive into this case and followed the “Undisclosed” podcast, you’d see that the questions are whether two police officers and one prosecutor teamed up to falsify evidence and coach a witness — whose story changed about 10 times as the police theory evolved — to help their case. 


Long before the Gun Trace Task Force created, out of thin air, “guilty” citizens who had done nothing wrong, the police officers in the Adnan Syed case were ignoring evidence of others who were more likely to have committed the crime and putting a kid behind bars for 23 years. 

So, while I agree that there are questions, the questions I’m asking are: When do we prosecute the diirty cops? When do we prosecute the corrupt prosecutor? Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh was nowhere to be seen in this case, so why is he commenting now? These are the weighty questions that those who have deep-dived into this case are asking today.

— Michael Smith, Towson

Syed has already served more time than most, do not retry him

The release of Adnan Syed (“Conviction of Syed overturned,” Sept. 20) has finally brought to light what many have been concerned about for years. The numerous questionable aspects of the case of the horrible murder of Hae Min Lee — including, apparently, the existence of two other credible alternative suspects — meant Syed never got a fair trial. Quite possibly an innocent man has spent over two decades of his life behind bars. And, nearly as disturbingly, the truly guilty party went free and continued to threaten and possibly harm the public.

Let us however now hope that the authorities have the wisdom, the sense of justice and the simple humanity not to try Syed yet another time. Not only are facts of the Syed conviction in serious doubt, but according to the U.S Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average time spent in state prisons for murder is less than 18 years. Syed has already been imprisoned for 23 years. There can be no reasonable justification for wasting additional time, money, and resources on a retrial of Syed, no justification for torturing the Syed and Lee families by putting them through the agonizing ordeal again.

We’ve seen politicians grandstanding and scoring political points on the issue of Syed’s conviction for years. If the authorities are sincere in wanting to get to the bottom of Hae Min Lee’s tragic murder, they must turn the focus onto one or both of the alternative suspects. And ask themselves why these suspects were not investigated more thoroughly in the first place.


— Bradley Alger, Baltimore

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