IT is a podcast that upon its release, revolutionised the medium as it rocketed up the listening charts worldwide, telling the tale of a real-life murder case from the 1990s. Now, eight years on from Serial’s debut, the alleged killer has been freed from jail.



The first episode of Serial was released back in 2014, investigating the 1999 strangulation of 18-year-old Korean-American high school student, Hae Min Lee, in Baltimore. The podcast - an audio programme made to download or listen to online - narrated the events surrounding the murder over multiple episodes.


It went global?

Word spread and Serial went viral. Season one was downloaded nearly 70 million times within four months alone, as the episodes explored and unravelled different aspects of the case each week, planting the seed of doubt over whether police had the right man in jail.


So who was found guilty of the murder?

Despite the explosion of interest sparked by the podcast - that has now been downloaded hundreds of millions of times - police have remained adamant throughout that Ms Lee's ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was 18 when he was sentenced to life in prison, was responsible.



In the trial, prosecutors argued he was an angry ex-lover who had strangled Ms Lee and with a friend’s help, partially buriedd her body in Baltimore's Leakin Park. The case relied in part on mobile phone location data that has since been determined unreliable.



On Monday, Syed’s shackles were removed in court and he was released into home detention, leaving the court to cheers from his supporters, after a judge ruled that the state violated its legal obligation to share exculpatory evidence with his defense team in 1999. Prosecutors said they lacked "confidence in the integrity of the conviction" and said two new potential suspects - known to police since the murder - had been identified. The judge, Melissa Phinn, gave the state 30 days to decide whether to seek a new trial or dismiss the case, although analysts predict a retrial is unlikely.


What of Ms Lee’s family?

Victim’s rights lawyer for the Lees, Steve Kelly, said the family felt "shut out of the legal process" and were "deeply disappointed”, adding: "All they wanted was information. If the truth is that somebody else killed their daughter, they want to know that more than anyone."


Serial spawned a genre?

Serial - which has just released a new episode to cover the events of recent days - was one of the first globally successful podcasts that opened eyes to the possibilities of the now-booming genre. Podcasts that followed in the field included 2017's Dirty John true crime podcast, based on the life of John Meehan, a US con artist who used dating sites to seduce and extort women. 


Any others?

In 2018, the podcast The Teacher’s Pet became a global sensation, sparking renewed interest in the death of Lynette Dawson, a 33-year-old mother of two, who disappeared from her home in Sydney in 1982. Last month, her husband, Chris Dawson, was found guilty of her murder after a judge ruled he killed his wife so he could continue his relationship with his teenage lover and babysitter. He had been charged after a rewneed investigation following the podcast’s airing.