Baltimore prosecutors have a month to decide whether to try Adnan Syed again, although legal analysts — and the victim’s family — said Tuesday they don’t expect the murder case to ever be tried again.
After more than two decades in prison, Syed, 42, walked out of court Monday a free man but under house arrest. Prosecutors consider their next move after successfully lobbying a Baltimore judge to overturn his murder conviction.
“They won’t try this case again because where are they going to get all the evidence in case they’ve already admitted there are inconsistencies?” NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said. “The idea of trying this case again would be an incredible opportunity.”
Syed was convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, 18, whose body was found buried in Baltimore’s Leakin Park in 1999.
He was sentenced to life behind bars. Then, in 2014, the popular podcast “Serial” raised questions about the evidence against him.
“I would never bet on anything, but it would be incredibly difficult to try again,” said University of Baltimore law professor David Jaros. “It would be very difficult for me to imagine that they would prosecute this case again.”
What would it take to try Adnan Syed again?
It would take rock-solid UKTN evidence directly linking Syed to Lee’s murder to allow for a credible prosecution, said Doug Colbert, a law professor at the University of Maryland who once represented Syed.
“So unless there’s a finding of UKTN or… [new] persuasive testimony, I expect that “Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby” will come to an end and conclude that she is unable to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Colbert said.
Hae Min Lee’s family feels betrayed
Syed was released despite a tearful statement from the victim’s brother, Young Lee, who said the prosecutor’s request to have the conviction lifted felt like a “betrayal.”
Family attorney Steve Kelly said Lee’s survivors do not believe Baltimore prosecutors will choose another trial.
“The family has little hope at the moment. They have no hope that anyone will ever appear in court for Hae’s murder,” Kelly said Tuesday. “Right now they feel very stung and distraught.”
After a judge released Syed from prison and retracted his murder conviction, Mosby, at the behest of prosecutors, stated that the newly released man has not been found innocent and that her office will weigh a new trial.
Mosby’s covered comments belie a lawsuit moments earlier, when her own district attorney broke up the state’s successful murder case.
Prosecutor stopped declaring Syed innocent
Cevallos theorized that Mosby was on a tightrope—suggesting Syed could still be responsible for Lee’s murder—to protect her office from civil liability should he take civil action.
“Syed should litigate to find that he was wrongly convicted, rather than being imposed on him by the state,” Cevallos said. “My prediction is that you will never hear an official word from the state again because they are already known as ‘we think it was trouble, but we’re not saying he’s innocent’.”
Cevallos added: “To me it’s very clear that the only reason (Mosby) made this confusing statement is that if you’re the prosecutor you want to be responsible for disclosing a massive bill to the state?”
In her arguments in court Monday, prosecutor Becky Feldman attacked virtually every pivotal point of the state’s case against Syed.
She called the state’s key witness unreliable, questioned the cell phone technology Syed allegedly placed in the park where Lee’s body was found, and questioned the integrity of a detective.
Even if there are another credible suspect or suspects, as the prosecutor’s office claims, the stain left by Syed’s case could influence a possible future prosecution.
“It’s hard to imagine how you come back from this and actually file a case when you have these kinds of public statements being made,” Kelly said.
Other suspects in Lee .’s murder
And even if authorities found evidence that anyone other than Syed was involved in Lee’s murder, any potential suspect could have a solid defense right from the start.
“The mistakes made 23 years ago that caused them to chase Mr Syed and look past other suspects could mean it will be very difficult to bring anyone to justice,” Jaros said.
“Anyone charged in this case will be able to ask a lot of questions about the arguments that have been made before about Mr. Syed and the evidence they thought suggested on Mr. Syed’s guilt. So on the issue of it would be a huge challenging, even if this case was not yet 23 years old.”
Kelly said his clients have a right to challenge Judge Melissa Phinn’s ruling to overturn Syed’s murder conviction, but are too devastated to decide whether to appeal.
“The customers are not in a position right now,” Kelly said. “I can’t have a coherent conversation with them. My contact is with Young Lee, and I can barely get a sentence out of him. He’s just so shocked.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com