Serial: Why Jay’s Testimony Is Not Credible Evidence of Adnan’s Guilt

In a later post, I plan on expanding further on Adnan’s cell phone records and the related witness testimony, and discussing what we can reconstruct about Hae’s murder from the existing evidence. This post, however, is not about the evidence that we have. It’s about the evidence that we don’t have — and that’s evidence that Jay is telling the truth about Adnan’s involvement in Hae’s death.

Now, it’s possible that Adnan is still guilty of Hae’s murder, and that the state managed to get the right guy, even if they didn’t have much to go on. Possible. The fact that Jay is a completely incredible witness is not evidence that Adnan is innocent. But that doesn’t change the fact that the state’s evidence was based entirely on the uncorroborated testimony of a self-acknowledged liar with a motive to falsely incriminate Adnan.

The state has itself acknowledged that Jay was the alpha and the omega of its case against Adnan. At trial, the prosecutor told the jury, “Let’s talk about Jay [ ] because, clearly, this case hinges on his testimony” (Brief of Appellant at 40). But while the prosecution then went on to continually assert, at every opportunity, that Jay was a “credible” witness, there was simply no objective basis for believing that Jay was likely to tell the truth when he testified at Adnan’s trial.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here, or to exaggerate for effect. I know that’s a pretty expansive claim to make. But it also happens to be accurate. We know that Jay had every motivation to lie and no motivation to the tell the truth; had a demonstrated history of lying when it was to his own advantage; and lacked corroborating evidence in support of his claims. Even assuming that Adnan is guilty of Hae’s murder, there was still no objective reason to find Jay’s testimony on that point to be credible.

How can a thing like that be evaluated? Well, the credibility of a witness’s testimony — that is, roughly speaking, the testimony’s evidentiary value — is judged in reference to four basic factors. Those factors are sometimes formulated in different ways, or split into additional categories, but they  can be summarized as the following:

  1. Inherent Credibility. A witness’s general character for truthfulness and honesty.
  2. Bias or Interest. A witness’s motive to lie in a particular circumstance.
  3. Inconsistent Statements. Whether a witness’s statements have been internally consistent.
  4. Corroboration by Other Evidence. A witness’s credibility is enhanced when his testimony matches known evidence.

With those factors in mind, how does Jay’s testimony stack up?

The Witness’s Inherent Credibility

Some witnesses have inherent credibility. Call it demeanor, call it character, whatever, but the factfinder in a trial is entitled to conclude that a witness is simply not the type of person who would lie, and credit their testimony based on that alone. Personally, I think this is the most useless way to evaluate testimony, because humans just aren’t natural polygraph machines — as a general rule, we’re really bad at this. Juries always overestimate their own ability to distinguish the liars from the truth tellers simply by observing them.

But sometimes, it is very easy to make an assessment of a witness’s inherent credibility. And that is when a witness informs you that he has none.

Jay is that witness.

Jay told the police and the jury, again and again, that he was willing to lie in order to avoid criminal punishment. He was not shy about this fact. Ask Jay why he lies, and he’ll tell you: he lies because he didn’t want to get in trouble.

For instance, in Jay’s third police statement, he gave a completely different story than he had give in his first two statements. And when the cops asked why he has not told the truth before, Jay “admitted that he lied on the two previous occasions to cover up the fact that he bought and sold marijuana” (Appellant’s Brief at 12).

And in one of Jay’s first two interviews, a detective asked Jay “what [Adnan] ha[d] over [him],” and noted that he could not understand why Jay would have voluntarily helped cover up Hae’s murder unless Adnan had some sort of leverage. Jay responded,

“Like I said, he knows I sold drugs, I mean . . . that was, I mean, that’s . . . he could get me locked up for that, I mean.” (Episode 4.)

In Jay’s second interview — which, again, was radically different from what was said in his first interview, and also radically different from what he would later say in his third — Detective MacGillivary pointed out all of the known lies that Jay had told so far, and asked Jay why he had not simply told them the truth during his first interview. The following exchange occurred:

Detective: “Why did you lie about the location [where Hae was killed]?”

Jay: “Uh, I figured there was cameras there or somebody had spotted him doing what he was doing.”

Detective: “But if you actually didn’t assist with her murder . . .”

Jay: “But I’m associated. I’m associated.” (Episode 4.)

Ignoring the truthful response that Jay’s answer inadvertently contains (that Jay lied because he was concerned there would be video footage showing who committed the murder), we have yet another example of Jay fully disclosing to the police that when he believes the truth will get him in trouble, he is going to lie instead.

And if Jay is willing to repeatedly lie to the cops in order to avoid getting in trouble for buying and selling pot, why on earth would he not also be willing to lie in order to avoid getting in trouble for murder?

The Witness’s Bias or Self-Interest

A witness’s credibility is affected by the witness’s “biases, prejudices, or ulterior motives . . . as they may relate directly to issues or personalities in the case at hand.” Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 (1974). Bias exists when there is a “relationship between a party and a witness which might lead the witness to slant, unconsciously or otherwise, his testimony in favor of or against a party,” and biased “may be induced by a witness’ like, dislike, or fear of a party, or by the witness’ self-interest.” United States v. Abel, 469 U.S. 45 (1984).

Does Jay have a bias which might lead him to slant his testimony against Adnan? Well, since not testifying against Adnan could very well have resulted in Jay serving the life-plus-thirty sentence that Adnan got, I’m going to say yes, he did in fact have a bias that might cause him to not tell the truth about Hae’s murder.

It was obvious to Jay that the police were looking at him as a possible suspect. Jenn had already told the cops that Jay was throwing away shovels and clothes after Adnan had, supposedly, disposed of Hae’s body by himself — and the cops knew, even if Jenn didn’t, that Jay’s story about not being involved in the burial was utter horseshit. So Jay’s claims about not being involved at all in Hae’s death were not going to get him very far. That cat was already out of the bag, because the police knew he had at least helped bury the body. And Jay had a very strong self-interest in making sure that the police believed his involvement went no further than that.

Jay also knew that the cops were running with the theory that Adnan had done it — after all, that’s why they pulled Adnan’s cell phone records. And Adnan being responsible matched the story that Jenn had already given them, via Jay’s previous statements to her. At that moment, regardless of whether Adnan was guilty or innocent, Jay had every reason in the world to say, “Yep, Adnan did it. He told me he did it. He forced me to help bury the body. If you’re looking for the murderer, he’s your man.”

But it gets worse. Once Jay’s plea agreement was in place, Jay’s motive to lie only increased. The plea agreement provided, at Sec. 1(a),

The Defendant represents that he/she has fully and truthfully responded to all questions put to Defendant by law enforcement authorities during all prior interviews. If at any point it becomes evident the Defendant has not been truthful concerning his involvement in this incident, the State is immediately released from any obligation under this agreement, the agreement becomes null and void, and the State is free to bring any charge against the Defendant supported by the evidence. The Defendant shall continue to cooperate fully with the State by providing full, complete and candid information concerning the murder of Hae Min Lee of which Defendant has knowledge.

So Jay “represent[ed] that he[ ] has fully and truthfully responded . . . during all prior interviews”? Well, shoot. That’s not good for Jay. He has already admitted that he lied in every single interview he gave. And, “[i]f at any point it becomes evident [Jay] has not been truthful concerning his involvement in this incident, . . . the agreement becomes null and void”? Hmm, that’s not good for Jay either. Since Jay definitely was not truthful in his police statements, he might reasonably think the state could void his agreement at any time. That’s a pretty tenuous position for anyone to be in — what was Jay supposed to do? “The Defendant shall continue to cooperate fully with the State by providing full, complete and candid information concerning the murder of Hae Min Lee. . .” Ah-ha, there we go. There’s something Jay can work with. “Cooperate fully.” In other words: Jay would not be crazy for thinking that if he did not “cooperate fully” with the state — by testifying to what he knew they wanted to hear — then he would be facing a lot of jail time.

Is anyone surprised that Jay did go on and testify exactly as the state wanted him to? At trial, he told a new version of his story — one that he had never told in any of the prior police interviews, but which was selectively woven together from the most believable portions of his prior statements. And following Adnan’s trial, he was given a sentence that let him avoid spending so much as a day in prison.

The Witness’s Consistent or Inconsistent Statements

When a witness’s testimony at trial is either internally inconsistent, or inconsistent with the witness’s prior statements, the factfinder is left with a question. Was the witness lying a trial, and telling the truth before? Was he lying before, and telling the truth now? Or did the witness just lie both times? Are the witness’s inconsistencies a result of the witness deliberately changing his story, or are they a result of the witness not being able to remember what he had said in his previous stories?

All of these questions raise serious doubts as to the credibility as the witness’s testimony. And particularly where a key witness did himself have the opportunity to actually be the perpetrator of a crime, the fact that the witness’s “statements to the police were replete with inconsistencies [ ] would . . . allow[ ] the jury to infer that [the witness] was anxious to see [the defendant] arrested for [the victim’s] murder. ” Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995).

So how does Jay stack up in terms of consistency? To hear the state tell it, Jay is a daggum straight-shooter who sticks by his word. During opening arguments, the prosecutor told the jury,

“The main plot points in Jay’s story have been consistent. He tells them that consistently, Jay ‘has always given the same story about what the defendant did where. Consistently, he tells Jennifer a consistent story, he tells police a consistent story about the defendant, he tells consistently the defendant’s involvement, the defendant’s actions on that day. He has never wavered on that point.’” (Episode 5.)

On the podcast, after quoting this portion of the prosecutor’s opening argument, Koenig makes the following remark:

That is a lot of consistently-s and while, maybe it’s not great oratory, it does have the advantage of being true. In Jay’s statements, while the particulars shifted, the spine of his story did not.” (Episode 5.)

Wait, what? Jay tells a “consistent” story? Jay has been “consistent” on the main points?

Koenig keeps using that word. I don’t think it means what she thinks it means.

Both the prosecutor and Koenig seem to think Jay has earned the distinction of being “consistent” because Jay has been consistent about the fact that Hae was murdered and that Adnan is the one who did it. Okay yes, it is true, Jay’s stories have been completely consistent on those points. But that’s not the kind of “consistency” that makes a witness’s testimony credible.

Let’s review some of the things that Jay has not been consistent about. But keep in mind — I don’t have access to the full police statements or the trial transcripts. I have only seen the bits that were deemed interesting enough to make it onto the show or the appellate briefs. And when a witness is lying, it is often in the boring questions, in the innocuous minutiae, that a witness’s lies start falling apart. It’s not so hard to remember one big story, but it’s awfully hard to remember all the practical details of an imaginary event. So whatever inconsistencies I have laid out here, I can promise that there are going to be a whole helluva lot more in the totality of the transcripts.

But just from the excerpts that are publicly available, the list of things Jay has been inconsistent about is already getting pretty dang impressive.

Reasons Why Adnan Killed Hae:

  1. Because “Hae made him mad” (trial testimony).
  2. Because Hae “had broken his heart” (Jay’s Second Interview).
  3. Because “Adnan confronted Hae about flirting with . . . a car salesman and when she called Adnan crazy, he snapped and strangled her” (Episode 8) (Jay’s Story to Chris).

Whether Adnan Planned Hae’s Murder in Advance:

  1. Yes (Jay’s Second Interview) (Adnan told Jay, “I think I’m going to kill her, yeah I’m going to kill her.”).
  2. No (Episode 8) (Adnan “snapped and strangled her.”).

Number of Times Adnan Told Jay That He Was Going to Kill Hae:

  1. Once (Trial Testimony).
  2. A lot (Jay’s Second Interview).

Number of Days Before Hae’s Murder That Adnan Told Jay He Was Going to Kill Her:

  1. Same day (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. One day (Jay’s Second Interview).
  3. Four to five days (Jay’s Second Interview).

When Does Adnan Ask Jay to Help Dispose of Hae’s Body:

  1. On the morning of January 12th, while he and Jay are shopping (Jay’s Second Interview) (Detective: “However, the whole purpose of him being with you that day was to ask you for your assistance?” Jay: “Yes.” Detective: “Of killing her?” Jay: “Yes, not some much in killing her, but in dispose.”).
  2. On the evening of January 12th, while he and Jay are talking on the phone (Jay’s Second Interview) (Detective: “What was that conversation. What made you think that ah, January the 13th, would be the day that Adnan would kill Hae?” Jay: “He told me um, that we’re gonna hook up the next day and that, he said, he said that’s what he said, I gonna do it, I’m gonna kill her.”).
  3. On the morning of January 13th, while he and Jay are shopping (Jay’s First Interview) (“On my birthday, on the evening of my birthday um Adnan called me and we chatted ah we made plans for the next day evening. That morning he called me and we took …. we were going to the Mall. He asked me if I could do him a favor.”).
  4. On the afternoon of January 13th, when he makes the “come-and-get-me” call (Jay’s Second Interview) (“[Adnan] never asked me until like, he asked me to come and get him. It’s wasn’t anything of disposing the body. He never asked me none of that until the actual day.”).

Whether Jay Tells Jenn that Adnan Had Plans to Kill Hae:

  1. Yes, on January 12th (Jay’s Second Interview) (“I told [Jenn] what the conversation me and Adnan had had earlier that day [about killing Hae]. And he reaction was just
    about the same”).
  2. Yes, on January 13th, before going to pick up Adnan from Best Buy (Jay’s Second Interview) (Detective: “Jenn never really like Hae, correct?” Jay: “Yeah, I mean.” Detective: “So I mean, did she actually even care?” Jay: “Not really.”).
  3. No (Trial Testimony).

Places Where Adnan Killed Hae:

  1. In her car in the parking lot at the Best Buy (Jay’s Second Interview).
  2. In her car in the parking lot at the Woodlawn Library (Jay’s Story to Chris).
  3. Jay has no idea (Jay’s Story to Jenn).
  4. Patapsco State Park (Jay’s Third Interview).

Places Where Adnan Showed Hae’s Body to Jay:

  1. At Edmondson Avenue (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. At the Best Buy (Jay’s Second Interview).
  3. Never, Jay was with Adnan in Patapsco State Park when he killed her (Jay’s Third Interview).
  4. At Franklintown Road (Brief of Appellant at 12) (Detective MacGillivary testified “that [Jay] told him that [Adnan] showed him Hae’s body in the trunk on Franklintown Road”).
  5. At a pool hall in Catonsville (Episode 8) (“[Jay] was shooting pool, Adnan called him he was like ‘yo, I gotta talk to you,’ and he was like ‘yo I’m busy.’ ‘Yo, where are you’ and he told him where he was. Adnan showed up and he’s like ‘oh I gotta talk to you’ and he’s like– this was a little tug of war for a while and Adnan eventually convinced him to come outside with him and his car or, I.”).
  6. At a gas station (Jay’s Story to Tayyib).
  7. Outside of Jay’s grandmother’s house (Intercept Interview).

Did Adnan Show Jay Hae’s Body When It Was in a Car Trunk:

  1. Yes, the body was in the trunk of Hae’s car (Trial Testimony).
  2. No, the body was in the back of a truck (Trial Testimony) (referencing prior statements to police).

When Does Jay Go to McDonald’s:

  1. After picking Adnan up from track (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. While waiting for Adnan to come back from the Park’N’Ride with Hae’s car so they can bury the body (Episode 5).

When Does Jay Go to Patapsco State Park:

  1. After 2:15 p.m., to help Adnan kill and/or dispose of Hae, because “[Adnan] killed Hae in Patapsco State Park,” and “[Adnan] paid [Jay] to help” (Jay’s Third Interview).
  2. At 4:30 p.m., after ditching Hae’s car and after buying weed. Once there, while “standing . . . at this cliff and [Adnan] starts telling [Jay]about how it was when he killed her,” while they watch the “[s]un getting ready to hit mountain tops”  (Episode 5). They are there for “[t]wenty minutes to a half an hour” (id.). (And yet somehow Adnan makes it back to Woodlawn in time for track.)
  3. After 6:30 p.m., after leaving Cathy’s and retrieving Hae’s car (Episode 5).
  4. Never (Trial Testimony).

Malls that Jay Says He Went Shopping at to Get a Present for Stephanie:

  1. Westview Mall (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. Security Square Mall (Jay’s Second Interview).

People Who Smoke Weed After Ditching Hae’s Car:

  1. Jay and Adnan (Trial Testimony from First Trial).
  2. Just Jay (Trial Testimony from Second Trial).

Person Who Drives Adnan’s Car to the Park’n’Ride After the Police Call Adnan to Ask About Hae:

  1. Jay (Jay’s First Interview) (“[Adnan] said take him back to the Park and Ride, I took
    him back to the Park and Ride um he told me follow him, drove me all around inaudible“).
  2. Adnan (Jay’s Second interview) (Detective: “And you get back in the car?” Jay: “Yes we get back in his car, he’s driving.” Detective: “And were do you go?” Jay: “We go back to 70 Parking Ride.”).

Time that Hae Was Buried in Leakin Park:

  1. Around 7:00 p.m. (Jay’s First and Second Interviews and Trial Testimony).
  2. Midnight (Intercept Interview).

People Who Dug Hae’s Grave:

  1. Just Adnan (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. Adnan and Jay (Jay’s Second Interview).

Number of Shovels Used to Bury Hae:

  1. One shovel (Jay’s First Interview) (“Um, you guys might be able to find some dirt in [Adnan’s] car . . .[f]rom both of our[ shoes], a shovel was in there to.”).
  2. Two shovels (Jay’s Second Interview) (“There’s two shovels that are kept with tools next to my porch. . . Um, he grabs the shovels and says we have to get rid of the body.”).

Where the Shovel(s) Used to Bury Hae Were Thrown Away:

  1. Super Fresh (Trial Testimony).
  2. Westview Mall (Jay’s Story to Jenn).

Where Jay’s Clothes and Boots Were Thrown Away:

  1. At Jay’s house, on the night of the murder (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. At the F&M, on the night of Jay’s murder, except for his boots, which were thrown away at Jay’s house on the day following the murder (Jay’s Second Interview).
  3. At the Super Fresh, on the night of Jay’s murder (Appellant’s Brief at 10).

Where Jenn Picked Up Jay After Hae’s Body Was Buried:

  1. At Jay’s home, where Adnan had dropped him off (Trial Testimony).
  2. At Westview Mall in front of Value City (Int.2 at 58-59) (discussing statements made in first interview).
  3. Other places (Trial Testimony) (noting that “[Jay] told the police different stories about where Jenn[] picked himup on January 13”).

Where Adnan Removed Hae’s Belongings from Her Car and Put Them in His Car:

  1. At the I-70 Park’n’Ride (Jay’s Second Interview) (“We went to the Route 70 parking lot . . . he got out of the car and proceeded to go through the trunk and the back seat and ah, several items he picked up . . . And then he came over to his car, um, told me to pop the trunk. I popped the trunk, he placed a whole bunch of items in the trunk. . . Um, I know one of them to be his track bag. It’s a black bag with ah, white writing on it. The other look like a book bag, a black book bag with a brown bottom and ah, like her keys, um, and her wallet”).
  2. At Edmondson Avenue, after ditching Hae’s car (Jay’s Second Interview) (“Um, oh he stops and he digs in [Hae’s] car some I don’t know what he was getting, he dug in the car some more, parked it, took the keys with him and came and got in the other car . . . Um, the only items I definite that were hers that he had, he had her wallet with all of her, all of her identification, um credit cards, all that, her keys definite.”); (Jay’s First Interview) (“After he moved [Hae’s car] to the second spot [off Edmondson] then he got out [her] car and acted like he was carrying her purse and her wallet [and her book bag] and he had some other stuff in his hand and ah.”).

Number of Times Jay Goes to Cathy’s House That Day:

  1. Zero times (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. Three times (Jay’s Second Interview).

Does Adnan Threaten to Have a “West Side Hit Man” Kill Jay:

  1. Yes (Jay’s First Interview).
  2. No (All Other statements).

Times That Jay Promised He Is Telling The Truth But Later Admits He Was Lying:

  1. Jay’s First Interview (Jay: “I was as honest as I possibly can remember – I mean, truthfully honest.”).
  2. Jay’s Second Interview (Detective: “The taped interview that you’ve given us right now – is that the truth?” Jay: “To the best that I can possibly, humanly at this point and time remember. That is the truth.”)
  3. Jay’s Third Interview (“[Jay] gave a third statement on April 13, 1999, and admitted that he lied on the two previous occasions to cover up the fact that he bought and sold marijuana.”) (CoSA Opinion at 6-7).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But you know what? All of those inconsistencies are irrelevant, compared to this final one:

Number of Pretrial Statements in Which Jay Lied to the Police:

  1. All of them. (Brief of Appellant at 40) (“It was not contested [at trial] that [Jay] had lied in every pretrial statement he gave to the police.”).

Keep in mind, there were at least four of these pretrial statements: the February 28, 1999 interview; the March 15, 1999 interview; the March 18, 1999 written itinerary; and the April 13, 1999 interview. And Jay gave different stories in all of them. Not to mention that he later gave a completely new story still, in his testimony at trial.

In fact, on the day of Jay’s first interview with the police, he gave at least two entirely different stories. The first story, which was not tape recorded, was wholly different from the taped interview, and according to a detective, it had “a lot of inconsistencies. . . too many to go over”:

Detective: Prior to us turning the tape on – we had a conversation with you.
Jay: Yes.
Detective: And during that conversation we spoke probably for about a half hour, forty-five minutes, the information that you provided during this interview was it the same information that you provided during the first interview?
Jay: No.
Detective: During the first interview there were a lot of inconsistencies.
Jay: Yes.
Detective: And there are too many to go over but you kind of disassociated yourself from all the information you provided in this interview. Why is that?
Jay: Scared.
Detective: All the information you provided during this interview has it been the complete truth?
Jay: To the best of my knowledge. (Int.1, at 24-25.)

So right off the bat, Jay’s stories are wildly inconsistent — both internally inconsistent, and inconsistent with statements that he makes at later times. In fact, throughout all of Jay’s stories, only the following facts remain consistent: (1) Adnan killed Hae sometime in the afternoon of January 13, 1999; (2) Jay was at Jenn’s house until 3:40 p.m.; (3) Hae’s car was initially ditched at the Park’n’Ride; (4) Adnan went to track practice that day; and (5) she was later buried in Leakin Park. Nothing else stays the same.

Corroboration of the Witness’s Testimony By Other Evidence

A witness’s testimony may be shown credible, even if that witness does not have inherently credibility, is biased, or has given inconsistent statements, when his testimony is nevertheless corroborated by other evidence. However, in order for evidence to be corroborative — that is, to be able to demonstrate that a witness was telling the truth — the evidence must have come from a source that is independent of the witness’s testimony. When such corroborative evidence does exist, that corroboration is objective evidence from which it can be concluded that the witness was likely to be telling the truth — at least in that particular aspect of his testimony.

Jay’s testimony was in fact corroborated in significant respects:

  1. Jay’s testimony that he buried Hae was corroborated by the fact he knew where she was buried, and how she was positioned in the grave.
  2. Jay’s testimony that he ditched Hae’s car was corroborated by the fact that he knew where her car had been left.

So even though Jay is not a credible witness, we can, with a fair amount of confidence, credit those two major portions of his testimony, as they could be verified by independent and external evidence (i.e., Jay’s story about the burial did in fact match what police discovered at the scene, Jay’s story about the car was true because he did in fact lead the police to it). As a result, Jay’s involvement in both the burial and disposing of the car are about the most solidly confirmed facts that we have in this case.

But even if Jay’s testimony is corroborated in those respects, that does not mean his testimony provides credible evidence against Adnan. Because even though Jay’s testimony is corroborated as to his involvement in Hae’s murder, his testimony is not corroborated as to Adnan’s involvement in the murder.

Not a single claim that Jay has made about Adnan’s culpability for Hae’s murder can be verified by independent and external evidence. Not the time that Adnan allegedly called Jay for a ride after killing Hae (there’s no 3:45 p.m. incoming call), not that Adnan was in Leakin Park on the night of Hae’s murder (cell records show no calls to Adnan’s friends from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.), not that Adnan buried Hae’s body (no physical evidence at crime scene), and not that Adnan had any contact whatsoever with Hae after 2:15 p.m. that day (no witnesses or physical evidence that Hae and Adnan were ever in contact after school let out).

Although the state claimed that Jay’s testimony was corroborated by Adnan’s cell phone records, this is not the case. Because in order to be corroborative, evidence must not only be consistent with a witness’s testimony, it must also be independent of it. Jay’s testimony at trial may have had some demonstrable consistencies with the cell phone records (although there were still mountains of inconsistencies between his story and the records, even at trial), but the cell phone records were not corroborative, because they were not independent from that testimony.

First, as a simple matter of math, the more stories that a witness tells, the more likely it becomes that the witness will have told a story that actually matches up with the truth. For example, if a witness is asked to identify the make of a defendant’s getaway vehicle, and says, “Hyundai, Ford, Jeep, Tesla, Lamborghini,” then that witness’s testimony about seeing the car drive away from the crime scene cannot be said to have been “corroborated” if it later turns out that the car was, in fact, a Ford.

That’s what happened here with Jay’s police statements. He gave details about Hae’s murder — lots of details. And while most of his stories were clearly fabrications, some of the bits and pieces that he told to the cops were not so obviously false. For example, Jay told one friend that the murder happened in Catonsville, told another friend that the murder happened at Best Buy, and told the cops that the murder happened at Edmondson Avenue. But which is the “true” answer? Well, the cell phone records show that two of those stories can’t be true, but they don’t disprove the Best Buy story. So the cops went with that, because hey, it’s confirmed by the evidence, isn’t it?

This method of developing Jay’s story left the prosecution with a lot of options to choose from, when it came to figuring out what their star witness was going to be bound by his plea bargain to say at trial. In making it’s case against Adnan, the state could rummage through Jay’s testimony, take little from column A, take a little from column B, add in a little bit of totally new stuff, and voila — they’ve got testimony which sort of matches the physical evidence and communications data! Or, at least, which can’t as easily be shown to have been a blatant lie.

But it gets worse than that. Jay did not just have an opportunity to make lots of guesses, and then pick and choose from those guesses later when developing his trial testimony. Jay was actually permitted to make statements that were based on the investigator’s independent evidence of what had occurred on that day:

“[Detective] MacGillivary interviewed [Jay] a second time on March 15, 1999, with [Adnan’s] cell phone records, and noticed that [Jay] statement did not match up to the records. Once confronted with the cell phone records, [Jay] ‘remembered things a lot better.'” (Brief of Appellant at 11.)

In order for evidence to corroborate a witness’s story — that is, to demonstrate that a witness was telling the truth — the corroborating evidence has to come from an independent source. But when a witness’s story is created by using the “corroborating” evidence as a reference, then that evidence doesn’t prove anything about the veracity of the witness’s account. Because, as should be self-evident, if you tell a witness, “I know your story is a lie if you tell me you did something other than ‘XYZ,'” and the witness then tells you, “I did ‘XYZ,'” that’s not evidence that the witness is telling the truth. It’s just evidence that the witness is not a complete idiot.

Here, Jay was told what portions of his story were contradicted by the cell phone records, and also why those portions were contradicted. For instance, when Jay claimed, on March 18th, that he and Adnan had called Patrick to buy weed immediately after ditching Hae’s car at the Park’n’Ride, Jay was confronted by the police with the fact that his story could not be true, because he had made a call to Jenn at 3:21 p.m., before ever calling Patrick to “look for weed” (Episode 5). So by the time trial comes around, Jay has fixed his story: “oh, I was calling Jenn because I needed to find out if Patrick was home.”

By giving Jay at least four interviews and a ride-along, and by challenging Jay each time his story did not match the known evidence, the police informed Jay of what parts of his story they could disprove, and — just as significantly — they also implicitly told Jay which parts of his story they could not disprove. For instance, in the second interview, when questioning Jay about where Hae’s body was discovered, they (1) explicitly alerted Jay to the fact that another witness (Jenn) was giving a story that didn’t match his; and (2) implicitly alerted Jay to the fact that they had not discovered any evidence — such as security cameras — that could prove or disprove that the murder happened there.

So it’s no surprise that, as the investigation went on, and as Jay was interviewed more and more often, the story that Jay told began to fit the evidence “a lot better.” And the resulting consistencies between his story and the known facts are in no way evidence that Jay had finally decided to start telling the truth.


The ultimate question here is not whether or not we can determine if Jay is telling the truth about Adnan’s involvement in Hae’s murder. The question is whether Jay’s testimony is significant evidence of Adnan’s guilty.

And it is not. The testimony that Jay gave at Adnan’s trial can be equally explained by the theory that Adnan murdered Hae, or by the theory that which Jay murdered Hae without Adnan’s involvement. Because regardless of what actually happened, Jay could be expected to give the exact same testimony. Jay’s testimony therefore does not increase or decrease the probability that Adnan is actually guilty of Hae’s murder.


131 thoughts on “Serial: Why Jay’s Testimony Is Not Credible Evidence of Adnan’s Guilt

  1. Pingback: Serial: A Comparison of Adnan’s Cell Phone Records and the Witness Statements Provided by Adnan, Jay, Jenn, and Cathy | The View From LL2

  2. You know what? I’ve been reading so much tripe over at reddit that I forgot what it sounds like when a person is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and articulate. What a pleasure to encounter this blog! In particular, this:

    “A witness’s testimony may be shown credible, even if that witness is not inherently credible, biased, or inconsistent, when his testimony is nevertheless corroborated by other evidence. In order for evidence to be corroborative — that is, to be able to demonstrate that a witness was telling the truth — the evidence must have come from a source that is independent of the witness’s testimony. If so, that is objective evidence from which it can be concluded that the witness was likely to be telling the truth in that aspect.”

  3. Fantastic essay. Though i disagree in a crucial conclusion:
    I would argue that Jay’s account of Adnan’s presence in Leakin Park is indeed corroborated by both the phone logs and Jen’s testimony:

    At 6:59 a call is made to Yasser, who is exclusively a friend to Adnan. Then, just 30 seconds later, Jay pages Jen.
    This proofs that Adnan was still with Jay merely 9 minutes before – according to three different sources of evidence (Jay, Jen, phone logs) – Hae was buried in Leakin Park.
    From the cell locations indicated by the phone log, we know that they were roaming in the area between Woodlawn High and Leakin Park, which is consistent with them being en route to pick up Hae’s car at I-70 P&R.

    Secondly, Jen has consistently testified that Jay was with Adnan when she picked him up at the mall around 8:15. She also testified that she helped Jay recovering the shovel(s) right after that, so we know that the burial had taken place shortly before.

    So i think that the external evidence corroborates Jay’s testimony as to the presence of Adnan in Leaking Park (this account, by the way, never changed during his different interviews and trial testimony).

    • This proofs that Adnan was still with Jay merely 9 minutes before – according to three different sources of evidence (Jay, Jen, phone logs) – Hae was buried in Leakin Park.

      Adnan’s mosque to the Park’n’Ride is an eight minute drive. Adnan’s mosque is in the Woodlawn area. So is Adnan’s home. So the call to “Yaser cell” at 6:59 in Woodlawn does not mean that “we know that they were roaming in the area between Woodlawn High and Leakin Park.” It means we know they were somewhere roughly in the Woodlawn area, where it would make a lot of sense for Adnan to be if he was going to mosque or home.

      So the fact that ten minutes later the call pings L6898 — even assuming the location data could be relied on to that level of specificity — cannot imply that whoever made the 6:59 p.m. call also answered the 7:09 p.m. call. Especially when there is a 7:00 p.m. call showing that Jay has the cell phone.

      Jen has consistently testified that Jay was with Adnan when she picked him up at the mall around 8:15. She also testified that she helped Jay recovering the shovel(s) right after that, so we know that the burial had taken place shortly before.

      You mean the Jenn whose only knowledge of Adnan’s involvement in the crime comes from Jay? The Jenn that Jay claims never saw Adnan on the night of Hae’s murder? The Jenn that claims she and Jay had “arranged” for her to pick him up at Westview even though they had not spoken since 3:45 p.m., and even though she and Jay had plans to hang out at Cathy’s, where Jay (to Jenn’s knowledge) already was?

      That testimony does not qualify as independent evidence. Jenn and Jay admit they discussed what they were going to tell the cops before Jenn’s police interview, it is not evidence that can verify Jay’s stories.

      • First of, i think the claim that Jenn and Jay colluded about the content of their statements to the police is refuted by the fact that their statements were so cleary inconsistent (Best Buy vs Edmondson Av. strip).
        Secondly, the finding that Jenn’s statement does not qualify as independent evidence to verify Jay’s claim to the presence of Adnan in Leakin Park, does not mean that Jenn’s statement can not qualify as credible evidence as to the whereabouts of Adnan at 8.15 at the mall.

        But anyhow, lets judge the theory of Adnan leaving Jay at 6:09 just taking into account his own and his fathers statements and the incorruptible phone logs:

        While it is -imaginable- that Adnan may have separated from Jay at 6:09 somewhere in the Woodlawn area, it is at the same time -extremely improbable-. Why? Because it contradicts all evidence – including Adnan’s own statements.
        If one would accept that Adnan left Jay at 6:09 to drive home or to the mosque, than one would also have to accept that Adnan at that moment (again) gave his mobile phone to Jay, which as we know from the previous calls and Adnan’s own statement he had taken back into his possession after track training.
        Such a scenario is just not conceivable:
        1. There is absolutely no reason for Adnan to (once again) give his mobile phone to Jay since they were separating for good this day.
        2. There is no way he could have gotten back his phone that day. According to Adnan he did not meet Jay again after mosque.
        3. Adnan could then not have placed all those calls later that night, including those to his friends between 9:00 and 10:00 pm, when according to his father he was still at the mosque with him.

        • ” the claim that Jenn and Jay colluded about the content of their statements to the police “… does not in fact appear in this post!

          The evidence should be treated with extreme caution because she may have colluded with Jay as she certainly got his permission to speak to the police before she gave her evidence and before he spoke to them. She simply cannot corroborate Jay’s testimony because all of her knowledge about Adnan’s involvement comes from Jay and thus just is not independent. She’s not a witness to the actual act of Adnan! What’s more, neither she nor Jay ever claimed she was. In that sense, it is simply wrong to say that her statement can ever corroborate Jay’s statement when it concerns things she wasn’t a witness to.

          In addition, her evidence should be treated with extreme caution, because she also has cause to minimise any involvement she may have had.

          As much as people have expressed surprise at the deal Jay got, I’m surprised that Jenn wasn’t also charged with somehow consipiring to conceal Jay’s involvement in the crime? I find it curious that her admitted acts of assisting with disposal of a shovel and clothes in order to conceal Jay’s involvement in the crime doesn’t make her an accessory. Why was she never charged?

          She could corroborate some of Jay’s evidence, such as his presence at her house at various times, but in that respect their evidence isn’t consistent.

          One shouldn’t conclude from those inconsistencies alone that they therefore couldn’t have colluded on some of the timeline – they just weren’t very good at it. On the other hand, mere inconsistency also does not necessarily mean one or both are lying – both could be bad at memorising actual events.

        • First of, i think the claim that Jenn and Jay colluded about the content of their statements to the police is refuted by the fact that their statements were so cleary inconsistent (Best Buy vs Edmondson Av. strip).

          When two witnesses’s stories are consistent about a fact that is a known lie (Jay and Jenn’s coordination — Jenn could not have known to pick Jay up somewhere under both of their stories) but inconsistent about a practical factual detail (so which mall did this arranged pick-up occur at?), it’s a sign of collusion.

          1. There is absolutely no reason for Adnan to (once again) give his mobile phone to Jay since they were separating for good this day.

          No reason that Adnan remembers, and no reason that Jay is testifying to. For all we know, Adnan was too stoned to drive, and Jay borrowed Adnan’s car to “drop him off” somewhere. We just don’t know.

          But there is absolutely no reason for Adnan’s cell phone to be calling Jenn if he and Jay are in Leakin Park together. Why is someone burying a body making social arrangements for later in the evening? That is careless, stupid, and bizarre behavior. But if you’re burying a body alone and have a two-car problem, repeatedly calling a friend makes a lot of sense.

          2. There is no way he could have gotten back his phone that day. According to Adnan he did not meet Jay again after mosque.

          Why “no way”? Jay borrowed Adnan’s car all the time, per Will’s testimony (and Adnan’s). Adnan left his cell phone in the glove compartment. The two of them were meeting up, splitting up, and meeting up at several points through the day already, why is there “no way” it could happen one more time?

          3. Adnan could then not have placed all those calls later that night, including those to his friends between 9:00 and 10:00 pm, when according to his father he was still at the mosque with him.

          Or Adnan was only at mosque to drop off food for his father, and the father got the times wrong. I view Adnan’s father’s testimony as similar to Jenn’s testimony — both have reason to (very possibly unintentionally) exaggerate their memories of how long Adnan and Jay were with them that day.

          • There are absolutely no grounds for the claim that Jenn was lying about her coordination with Jay.
            The allegation that “Jenn could not have known to pick Jay up somewhere under both of their stories” is discounted by the very standards of evidence proposed in the OP:
            Jenn herself testified that “between 8:00 and 8:15 she got a message from Jay telling her to pick him up in 15 minutes at the mall”.
            This statement is corroborated by independent evidence: The call log is evidence that Jay indeed sent two messages to Jenn’s pager at the very time.
            In that regard, it is worth pointing out that in the era of pagers, it was very common for younger people to convey actual messages to numeric pagers by using a number-to-letter conversion system, also known as pager codes.
            Thats why Jenn is referring to receiving a “message” as opposed to receiving a “call” from Jay.
            Good discussion going on here 🙂

          • You need to read the actual statement to the police from Jenn and update your assertions. It seems like Jenns pager had some sort of text function that enabled more communication than previously thought. Of course, as everything in this case, the police never verified if this is true, but it seems a strange detail to add if not true. It doesn’t disprove anything you say but some inconsistencies you point out are just not there.
            Btw thank for structuring this up.

            I want to point out another strange thing in Jenns testimony I don’t really know where to make of. It is probably one of those weird inconsistencies we’ll never make sense of but regardless. Why was Jay so visibly shaken up after wiping of (a) shovel/s but not before. I mean he had just returned from burying a dead body, and Jenn does not use as strong words then to describe his demeanour. odd.

          • Lucas: Great Points. I agree with you that Adnan’s statements corroborate that he had his phone the rest of the night after track practice and that it would be odd to give the phone to Jay.

      • I would have to say the call to yasser and the paging to Jenn are extremely, uncomfortably close —- a mere 30 seconds apart!

        Did Adnan make the yasser call as he had one foot out of the car door in front of the mosque?

        • To me, it indicates that Jay was really eager to talk to Jenn the second he got a chance. Adnan calls Yaser, goes to mosque, and instantly Jay is paging Jenn. He’s going to need a pick up.

        • it’s not 30 second apart. it could be as much as a minute a part. 6.59.01 yasser, talks 30 seconds, then jay calls jen at 7.00.57.

          • Absolutely. Though this does change that – assuming this is the time where they separate – Jay could then not have possible be present for the burial in Leakin Park merely 9 minutes later. If Adnan left to mosque, then Jay would not have a car and would either have to walk or arrange a pick-up by a third person first. Not possible in 9 minutes.

          • If we assume that Jay was in possession of adnans phone it’s pretty safe that said phone was left inside adnans car, thus Jay had both the phone and the car.

  4. Pingback: Serial: Cold Turkey | The Confluence

  5. Marvelous stuff, it’s a refreshing read after mucking through nonsense on Reddit.

    The more I learn about Jay’s various statements, the less believable I find him. I’m still not 100% convinced of Adnan’s innocence, but it boggles the mind to think that folks can be convicted of murder solely on testimony like this.

    There are a lot of parallels between this case and the prosecutions of Charles Erickson and Ryan Ferguson for the 2001 murder of Kent Heitholt in Columbia, Missouri. Both 48 Hours and Dateline have covered it, and there is an Andrew Jenks documentary coming out about it next year. (Ferguson was convicted primarily on Erickson’s testimony, which was either unsupported or contradicted by the crime scene evidence and had suspiciously evolved over time to coincide with the state’s theory of the case. His habeas petition was granted and he was released last year).

    One common theme in both cases is laziness: folks just deferring to others without engaging in any scrutiny or independent analysis of their own.

    The cops decide they have their man, so they get him and take the case to the prosecutor.
    The prosecutor says “Well, they wouldn’t bring this to me unless they were sure they had the right guy, so they must” and charges.
    The jury says “Well, they wouldn’t have arrested and charged him if he they weren’t sure he did it” so they convict.
    Most outside observers look at the case and say, “Well, the jury found him guilty, so he must have done it.”

    So it becomes accepted as fact that the defendant did it because all of these different people looked at it and came to the same conclusion, but they were really just blindly reaffirming the original conclusion by the police that the anonymous tip they got was accurate.

    • I agree with you re: the apparent laziness of the investigation. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think either the investigators or the prosecutors acted in a deliberately improper way in pursuing the case against Adnan. What happened here seems to have been more insidious: everyone thought they were acting reasonably, on what appeared to be good info, but once it was decided that Adnan was their perp, all subsequent evidence was shoehorned into fitting that theory.

      One of Adnan’s really bad strokes of bad luck was the timing of how the evidence against him came out. I can see how, when it was all happening, it would have seemed to the investigators like everything was falling into place. They start with the assumption that Hae was probably killed by a former or current intimate partner (because who else would have motive to commit that kind of murder?) — and Adnan goes on their list, along with everyone else who meets that description. They then rule out anyone on that list with an alibi — but they can’t rule out Adnan, because his alibi is that he was just hanging out at school, and it’s unclear if anyone saw him at the specific time of her death. The cops are primed to be receptive to any evidence pointing his way.

      And then suddenly they have an anonymous caller, with facially credible info, telling them to take a closer look at Adnan — and Adnan rockets to the top of their suspect list. Alarm bells are ringing. Red flags are waving. Spidey senses are tingling. With bated breath, they pull Adnan’s cell phone records — bam! Look at that! Two hits for Leakin Park on the night of Hae’s disappearance. Beautiful evidence, they couldn’t have hoped for more. Now convinced they are about to close in on their prey, they bring in Jenn, whom the phone calls that night were to — and everything slides perfectly into place, like clockwork, as she tells them about Adnan’s statements to Jay, and the 8 p.m. pickup, which matches so perfectly with the Leakin Park calls at 7 p.m. Hot damn, they’ve got their man.

      So they bring in Jay, because they’re going to need his testimony to get Adnan locked up — Jenn’s hearsay won’t do it. But at first, Jay doesn’t say what they want him to, doesn’t come clean, won’t tell them what “the truth” is. Because the investigators know what the truth is now, more or less — they just need Jay to clear up some of the details. And after a little cajoling, Jay finally comes through, tells them exactly what they “know” the case to be. And it all made sense, at the time. It was just so neat and clean and satisfying — a perfect synergy between their theory about a scorned ex-boyfriend, and the evidence from the ex-boyfriend’s cell phone showing that the phone was with Hae’s body when it was buried.

      It was such a perfect case that no one stopped to ask the obvious question: was there anyone else, other than Adnan, who was a nexus between Jenn’s story and the cell phone data? For example, someone who may have told Jenn everything she knew about Adnan, and someone whom we know borrowed Adnan’s phone that day?

      • Agree on there being no deliberate impropriety – seems more just a rush to judgment/tunnel vision problem that led to a lot of assumptions being prematurely left unchallenged.

        I watched the Ken Burns documentary on the Central Park 5, and I forget who it came from, but there was an interesting statement that once people decide someone is guilty, psychologically, it’s very hard to move them off of that view and change their mind.

        Once these detectives settled on the idea that Adnan was guilty, they were no longer looking for or even receptive to any evidence that showed otherwise.

      • The most incriminating evidence against Jay that the investigators missed while building their case was obviously “the dog that never barked”.

        That there were no forensics at all pointing to Adnan. The search of Adnans house picking up forensic material for possible matches was after Jays and Adnans statements. And the crime lab most likely took months to return its answer of finding nothing. Therefore this vital lack of evidence probably came long after the prosecutor and police was fully committed to the case against Adnan.

  6. “Inherent Credibility. A witness’s general character for truthfulness and honesty.

    Bias or Interest. A witness’s motive to lie in a particular circumstance.

    Inconsistent Statements. Whether a witness’s statements have been internally consistent.

    Corroboration by Other Evidence. A witness’s credibility is enhanced when his testimony matches known evidence.”

    Is this something that Gutierrez talked about in her closing or was allowed to talk about in her closing?

  7. Great blog — great logic.

    Are we in agreement that there were multiple shovels used? Were those shovels recovered and presented at trial? Clearly Jay didn’t need two shovels to dig a grave by himself.

    Jay seems to be covering up for something — such as how he was covering up the fact that he visited “Cathy” until he had to bring her into the story. Perhaps the cops felt that as long as his story ends with Adnan killing Hae they could overlook the blurry areas along the way. At some point he had to lock into a story to keep his plea deal, and the cops kept the Best Buy scenario because the only person who could correct it would be Adnan.

    Just a thought — could Jay be covering up for his weed supplier? He does claim to be a big badass dealer (which the cops seem to laugh at), but maybe he made a weed run with Adnan’s car to somewhere and doesn’t want to expose anyone else in the mix. Also, what if Jay was near the school / library making a drug sale; maybe he met Adnan near the school / Library. Selling drugs on or near school zones is a big no-no.

    As for phone records, the most telling to me are the three calls Adnan made the night before the murder to Hae. CALLS: 11:27pm; 12:01am; 12:35am (she finally answers; having returned from Don’s house.)

    • It seems that he wanted to give her his new cellphone number. As to why there are 3 calls in the podcast it says they had a system to call each other so that their parents didn’t know they were talking to each other.

      • I understand that he was giving her his cell number — it just seems odd that he would call her three times late at night breaking their arranged “secret phone system”; could be obsessive; keeping tabs on her; picturing her with her new lover. This is a former girlfriend that he supposedly no longer has romantic feelings for; why the need to speak that night? And then after he hears she is missing — he never calls her phone once.

        • About why he didn’t call her ever again.. Well, i haven’t seen any call logs past jan 13, so i don’t know if he did or did not. As for supposedly having no longer romantic feelings… Who are we kidding, it’s not like the day you break up it’s boom, i don’t care about that person anymore. My though was that he maybe hoped she would come back, then she goes missing and everybody is talking about california or whatever so maybe he though “ah, she ran away with don, forget about her” [especially considering she had problems with her mother] but then again, do we know 100% he never ever contacted her anymore? Anyway, everything I say is just my thoughts and i could’ve done that. Don’t know if Adnan could’ve done the same.

          • He admitted to not calling her again on podcast 3 I think, I might be wrong about which one but he definitely said he didn’t call her or page her again. He said that he was getting all his information from her/their friends. Personally, I think thats odd considering he was calling her at and after midnight on the night that he got his phone. I’d be interested in the phone logs prior to her disappearance.

        • From what I understand, Adnan didn’t want the phone to ring when he called, else Hae’s parents would know. He wanted to beep call waiting on Hae’s end while she was calling up one of those numbers that allowed her to listen for Adnan’s call. This appears to be their system, so it completely makes sense to me that he wasn’t beeping call waiting the first two times, so he immediately hung up and tried again soon after. He apparently wanted to give her his new number, which corroberates with it being written in her diary.

        • I agree. There needs to be more discussion about his calls the night before. Including the call to Krista. What did they discuss for 18 minutes late at night? And was he calling Hae to arrange a ride home the next day? He was obviously determined to talk to her. Maybe she told him they were done for good. And how does Yaser fit in to all of this? He spoke to him the night before and on the day of the murder.

    • The problem with all this speculation is that we are doing what Jay seems to have done – we have a set of facts and we want our theory to fit in with them. We can mostly manage but then we have to do a bit of speculation, the Nisha call was a butt dial, Jay had borrowed Adan’s car and phone after 7pm. Jay’s inconsistencies are because he is covering for someone else, This is good for Adnan’s account because it shows that there are other plausible explanations for otherwise damning evidence but it doesn’t show Jay’s guilt because we are using the evidence to build our own stories, rather than have the evidence corroborate our stories.

      The only thing we can say with any kind of conviction is that the State’s timeline regarding Hae;s murder is improbable to the point of impossible and Jay’s testimony is unreliable due to known inconsistencies and him being shown factual evidence. I think we can also all agree that Jay is involved in Hae’s murder at some level. On the timeline for Hae’s murder, this could not have happened how the State described it and this is what Adnan is being charged with so even if you believe Adnan buried Hae’s body – when did he kill her? (yes we can all come up with some plausible alternatives but there’s no evidence for them because they were never investigated).

      All the speculations rely on different interpretations, for example the shovel(s). Was there one or two – Jenn says one then corrects herself. Could easily be a slip of the tongue in a tense situation but also could be her instinctively telling the truth then having to move back to the lie. We are all more inclined to believe the one that fits with our pet theory – if you think Jay did it alone, her initial ‘shovel’ is correct, if you think he did it with Adnan then the correction was the truth. Like much of Jenn and Jay’s testimony, there is no independent evidence that points to the truth of whether there was one two or even more shovels. All it really gives us is how proveably unreliable parts of Jay and Jenn’s testimony is and how it opens up (for me at least) very reasonable doubt regarding the whole story they are telling about Adnan.

      In the end all that should have mattered was whether Jay’s story was internally consistent, corroborated by independent fact or witnesses and all efforts had been made by the police to check out Adnan’s alibis so the State’s case against him was airtight or at least beyond reasonable doubt. It wasn’t, it wasn’t and they didn’t.

      That lack of thorough police investigation in particular means we are unlikely to ever know with any certainty who murdered Hae and that is a crying shame. All we can say with any measure of certainty is that Adnan is innocent of the crime he was prosecuted for by the State.

      • True, it’s speculation and while you have laid out factual inconsistencies based on testimony and phone records, there is still a ton of speculation left over. Maybe will always be the case unless Jay ever decides to spill the whole truth.

  8. That Jay or Jenn had independent knowledge of where Hae was buried, or how she was killed, or where her car was located. Without more information from the police interviews, I don’t think it is possible to rule out the possibility that police in some manner provided that information to Jenn and Jay. One of the detectives involved in the case was involved in another 2002 case that was overturned on appeal because of the manner of questioning, in which the detective “rambled on” by throwing out some facts and giving out some background information. (see excerpt of appeals decision below).

    I wouldn’t describe this as corruption, as some other have, but rather a detective who’s trying to be aggressive and working within what he understood to be the acceptable legal boundaries. This detective was cited favorably in various old stories, such as taking time to build contacts with homeless men in order to build a case against teens who had preyed on the homeless, or finding the body of a missing man in the morgue after a request from the widow.

    I have my doubts that Jay was involved in the murder of Hae. Both Jenn and Jay have criminal cases listed in the Maryland judicial records, but those cases mostly involved controlled substances. Jay does have an assault charge and appears to have had a protective order filed against him, which could indicate a capacity for violence. But those case appear to be much much less serious than a kidnapping and murder. I also don’t see much of a motive for Jay to kill Hae, just as it’s hard to see a serious motive for Adnan.

    Moreover, strangulation is an up-close-and-personal matter, not for the faint of heart. It would seem unusual to me for someone without a previous criminal record (Adnan) or a low-level drug dealer strangling someone for what would appear to be a tenuous motive. On the other hand, strangulation appears a common choice of serial killers (see
    Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
    Brian Christopher COOPER v. STATE of Maryland.
    No. 1353, Sept. Term, 2003.
    Decided: July 6, 2005
    – See more at:

    . . .
    Asked to describe this “procedure or process,” Detective Ritz stated:

    Several things.   It’s just kind of rambling on.   Like I said, I told him [about] my investigation, I had an arrest warrant for him for the homicide of ․ Scott, that had occurred on April 17th.   I told him the location.   Told him that I had spoken with several people during my investigation and that those individuals that I had spoke[n] with identified him as the person involved in the incident.

    I gave him some background information on the victim, portraying the victim as not necessarily a nice guy.   That there’s two sides to every story, that I had people that had seen him arguing with the victim that evening.   I had witnesses that saw him getting out of a vehicle chasing after the victim that evening, and I kept reiterating that there’s two sides to every story.   At that time he just sat there.   At times he had his head down and he wasn’t-it wasn’t a question and answer type thing.   Like I said, I’m just rambling on and talking and talking for approximately an hour and a half.

    During this stage of the interview, Detective Ritz showed appellant the face page of the arrest warrant.   Detective Ritz also had the approximately two and a half inch homicide file sitting on the desk in the room, where appellant could see it.

    Shortly after 9:00 p.m., appellant advised Detective Ritz that he wanted “to tell [] his side of the story.”   The detective did not attempt to stop appellant from speaking, nor did he issue Miranda warnings.   Appellant gave the following statement at that time, as recounted by Detective Ritz at the suppression hearing:

    [Appellant] made the statement that he was arguing with the victim.   He left the area.   Went to a girl’s house.   Saw the victim later but he didn’t stab him.   The victim started arguing with him and he was inside a vehicle, got out, got back in the car and drove off.

    After appellant said this, Detective Ritz “told him to stop what he was saying” because the detective wanted to tape appellant’s statement and advise him of his Miranda rights.
    . . .

    • Jay’s record is impressive. Assaulted police officers, domestic violence, drugs. He even did one of those things WHILE he was on his 2 year probation he got for accessory to murder. And he has never, ever served 1 day in jail. Not once. Not violating the probation, not after attacking police officers with other police officers as witnesses. I don’t know. But he does seem like a “shady” guy.

    • “I also don’t see much of a motive for Jay to kill Hae, just as it’s hard to see a serious motive for Adnan.”

      I’ve heard a number of people say this, without sounding like a troll, it’s laughable. Spurned love is the oldest motive known to man. From all I’ve heard, Hae was his first and only love, first kiss, first and only sexual partner, it’s not far fetched that he realized that once she was with Don that it was really over. The first time she had not come back to him but moved on to another guy. That can be very powerful, not proof he killed her, but to say there isn’t motive for Adnan is wrong.

      • Not sure about first kiss (doubt it) but she DEFINITELY wasn’t his first and only sexual partner. Dude was always with girls, he was sleeping with a girl from woodlawn after they broke up, he had a new flirting object in Anjali and so on. I don’t know where you read your stuff, but it’s wrong. Also, it CAN be a motive, but it doesn’t mean that every time a girl leaves a boy he kill her.

    • I’m curious where you get the idea that the police fed Jay and Jenn information that caused them to go from having nothing to do with Hae’s murder to knowing who did it and helping. Why on earth would either of them implicate themselves? Even if prompted? They were both forced to say something, because of the calls to ?Jenn from the park the night Hae disappeared forces Jenn to lawyer up, and she has to implicate Jay (though as little as possible, just enough to take the heat off herself) because Adnan and Jenn don’t even know each other and if she plays dumb she will get dragged into the whole thing. Plus, Jay and Adnan were together that day, so there is little choice but to say what they know without implicating themselves too much. I’m just seriously confused as to how Jenn and Jay were fed information so Jay could act like he knows where the car is located, or how Hae was buried, without it being a huge conspiracy by the police, which though not impossible, is incredibly far fetched based on the evidence.

  9. I didn’t read it anywhere I got it from the podcast, Hae’s diary that Sarah read, Adnan’s own words from prison, and some reasonable speculation based on the timeline and the people mentioned/questioned. They had been broken up for 3 weeks he was sad and trying to get back with Hae for a period of that time, Adnans words and people that were there during that time. You’re over selling it, I’m not buying it. So I’ll step off here… And if you read my post, I said specifically it doesn’t mean he DID it, but to say he didn’t have a motive is false. Period.

  10. Great work Susan!
    With cell phone location techniques being new at the time (in terms of being used for criminal investigations), 1- do you think having Adnan’s phone was still somewhat of a premeditated action by Jay to incuplate Adnan? 2- Also, would you describe Jay as some kind of mastermind or more as a lucky party who benefited from the detectives having set their mind on the ex boyfriend? 3- Finally, are we in agreement that Jay is probably the one behind that anonymous call to the cops about Adnan? Seems ballsy since by putting the spotlight on Adnan, he had to know it meant hi cell phone record would be looked into and that he (Jay) would be sooner or later brought in the picture…


      • We don’t know because a motive for Jay was never investigated. Adnan says to his attorney that Hae knew Jay was cheating on Stephanie. If that’s true then there’s a motive albeit as thin as the motive Jay confers on why Adnan killed Hae. Also Jay and Hae weren’t two randoms. Hae was, for eight months, the girlfriend of someone who was well acquainted if not actively friends with Jay (Adnan) and good friends with Jay’s girlfriend (Stephanie). I’d be interested to know if her diary mentions Jay at all.

        Again, there is not much evidence of a motive which might mean there is no motive but equally we know the police investigation of this crime was focused on Adnan so it doesn’t mean there was no actual motive, just that one wasn’t looked for or investigated.

        • My own theory about Jay’s motive is not really a motive per se: there is the story about how he wanted to stab his friend so his friend could “experience” what it feels like to be stabbed. What if Jay wanted to “experience” what it is like to kill someone? There have been cases like that… So Adnan says “I want to kill her” in the colloquial sense (not meaning he really wants to end her life), and Jay thinks “hey, I can do it, experience killing someone, and pin it on the obvious suspect — the ex-boyfriend.” I think it is plausible, albeit unprovable.

          • Pretty insightful comment. The story about experience stabbing was really weird but also scary and definitely left me cold. Who would do or insist on such a thing? Jay, Jenn and Stephanie are all suspect.

  11. From a layperson’s perspective – the lack of an alibi during the period Hae disappeared (probably 3 to 3:15PM) would appear to be evidence / corroboration that Adnan was involved in some way. It doesn’t stand on its own, but it also doesn’t provide a refutation of Jay’s general narrative (that Adnan did it and Jay helped in some way).

    We do see these cases where two people caught with murders, but then they each try to accuse the other of being the mastermind. That’s arguably harder to sort out in the absence of other evidence.

    • The State’s case is that Hae was killed before 2.36pm. You might find it suspicious that Adnan doesn’t have an alibi for 3-3.15pm but the State apparently did not and neither did the investigating police.

      As the State’s story is not that Hae was murdered between 3-3.15pm then how can a lack of alibi for that time corroborate anything except your own suspicions?

      You are merely doing what those who think Jay is guilty are doing – you are admitting the State’s line of Hae dying before 2.36pm is unfeasible but instead of feeling that casts doubt on Jay, you seem to feel that as it is self evident that Adnan did it, he must have done it at another time so come up with something plausible but with no actual evidence.

      Of course if the police had investigated that time line then the outcome might be different (maybe there would be more witnesses placing Adnan at school or even someone seeing him leave with Hae, maybe they could have investigated that payment at the garage more thoroughly) and more substantial in proving guilt or innocence.

    • Using Adnan’s lack of an alibi as evidence of his guilt is using an inappropriate sample size. Because he wasn’t the only person (or one of only a few people) with a possible opportunity to have killed Hae. His lack of alibi is significant only if it either strikingly unusual or appears to have been fabricated. But if it turned out that, say, 50% of Woodlawn students would not have been able to have a provable alibi for that time period when asked six weeks later, his lack of an alibi becomes a meaningless data point.

      As far as we know, not a single other student has had someone directly testify to their whereabouts from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Maybe they do have alibis — but if so, we have not heard of it. We just don’t have that information. So based on what we do know, why would Adnan’s lack of a specific alibi cause Adnan to be more likely than anyone else whp lacks a specific alibi to have caused Hae’s death?

      • Because none of the other students had just been dumped for another guy by the victim. And none of them had lent their car and new cellphone to the one guy who happened to help bury that victim.

        • But those factors are totally independent of one another. Whether Adnan was likely to have an alibi on any given day has no relation whatsoever to whether he killed Hae, or whether he was the ex-boyfriend of someone murdered.

          If we could somehow figure out, for instance, that most students generally could not establish an ironclad alibi for that time period when asked to do so six weeks later, the fact Adnan could not do so would not be probative evidence of his guilt.

  12. “Detective: And during that conversation we spoke probably for about a half hour, forty-five minutes, the information that you provided during this interview was it the same information that you provided during the first interview?”

    I took this to mean there was an interview before this one, not the 30-45 minute conversation they just had. I’m really wondering if there is a record of that anywhere.

  13. Not sure if this was brought up already, but I found your blog from Rabia’s (great job by the way). In Rabia’s blog she posted some notes from the State’s Attorney’s file about when they found and removed the body, they found carefully placed large rocks on parts of the body (so as to avoid animal activity). Assuming this is true, two things: (1) Given the pain staking detail (and contradictions) the investigators go over with Jay on the burial of the body, isn’t it weird that this isn’t in there (if it is and I missed it, my apologies). and (2) Isn’t that an excessively savvy thing to do? i.e. how does a random 17 year old know to do it and/or whose idea was it?

      • Or Mr S did it days before he told police he found the body! Wasn’t he in the habit of roaming naked in the woods. . . . and it took him days to decide to come forward.

  14. By the way, Jen tells the investigators during her second interview that she had spoken to Jay the night before. She says that was the first time he said why he had Adnan’s car that day.

  15. The most damning thing about Jay, to me, is simply this: we’ve heard multiple stories, from several various sources, of the account of Hae’s death and aftermath – what do all of these things have in common? Jay. Meanwhile all of the people connected to Adnan seem to have little to no recollection of his behavior that day, or in the immediate aftermath save to say he seemed normal, then distraught to learn of her death. Jay on the other hand was running around telling people he buried Hae’s body and changing the story to every single person, every single time. Why? So just that fact alone, points me to believe that Jay is significantly more involved than is being revealed AND that Jay is probably more involved than Adnan.

    Another thought I’ve recently considered on the matter, which doesn’t seem to have been addressed, but hopefully will be looked into is this: what other possible connection could Hae have to Jay? Is there something that Hae may have been involved in or known, something that may have put her in danger, that has never come to light. We know this: Jay claimed to have been a “high-level” pot dealer, he professed to lie to police several times to protect his involvement in pot dealing. Stephanie was one of Hae’s best friends and was dating Jay. Stephanie has been fairly invisible throughout all of this; she did give a statement to police, and then supported Jay at trial. Other than that – nothing. What if Hae and Stephanie both knew something damning or had gotten themselves involved in something dangerous and that has never been explored? The Innocence Project seemed to be pursuing the avenue of a third party source being responsible for Hae’s death, given the manner of death and burial of body.

    Perhaps Jay is covering for someone else? Maybe Jay did bury the body – but not for Adnan, who is being framed. Maybe I’m sounding like a conspiracy nut and this is too Lifetime Movie, but there are some serious missing pieces to this puzzle, and as stated above, with the information we currently have, neither Jay nor Adnan have a particularly damning reason to kill Hae. Of course this goes along with speculation, as has been discussed, but as a writer I do know that sometimes just fielding what seems like crazy-ass ideas can lead to a significant break. (Not that I’ve solved any type of puzzle here, just throwing my crazy idea out there to see what others may think. 🙂 )

    • I’ve seen speculation that Hae told Jay she was going to tell Stephanie that he was stepping out on her. I think Jay might have done it to experience killing someone (as he wanted his friend to “experience” being stabbed), and thought she would be an easy victim that he could pin on Adnan.

      Your points about Jay blabbing all around in the interim is very interesting. Had not focused on that, but it is suspicious. We have know info that Adnan ever told anyone anything about participating in any way.

  16. Here are some simple thoughts

    1- Jay had already admitted to knowing more than anyone not involved in the crime would. He also admitted to lying because he was scared and he has a criminal history.

    2- The detectives’ job and responsibility is to arrest the person responsible for the crime. They have this guy who tells them all about it.

    Unless they had it against Adnan or could not arrest Jay based on his story, I don’t see why they would go after an “innocent” guy and use the testimony of a “shady” guy, who keeps lying, to frame him. My guess is there is more to the case than meets the eye. The detectives are trained and experienced in not just listening to words, but reading the overall body language, etc. If Jay was really guilty, I don’t see how they couldn’t have observed that in his mannerisms and just broken him down to confess, given that he was scared. My guess is there was something about the story that makes it believable, despite the inconsistencies.

    • I’m a therapist and (like law enforcement) trained in body language, etc. There is no reliable way to tell someone is lying. Mannerisms are not a dead giveaway. Studies show that people are TERRIBLE at catching liars in action. So, “the police know their job and they must have had SOME REASON for believing him” is just plain wrong-headed thinking. Their reason for believing him is that what he had to say fit their theory. They weren’t out to frame an innocent person/release a guilty one. They truly believed Adnan was guilty and kept hammering Jay until they got the information they needed to catch the killer.

    • More to the story or just plain old incompetence? I think no immediate motive jumped out at them, so they went with the jilted ex motive.

      All the evidence roads point to Jay.

  17. I noticed a typo that you should correct if possible. Change “XYX” to “XYZ” in the following passage: Because, as should be self-evident, if you tell a witness, “I know your story is a lie if you tell me you did something other than ‘XYX,’” and the witness then tells you, “I did ‘XYZ,’” that’s not evidence that the witness is telling the truth.

  18. a redditor pointed me here. I’m not a lawyer but I am an engineer and consequently have an ability to distinguish between different levels of knowing (e.g. fact vs conjecture, probability).

    It is refreshing to read analysis that makes sense and points out things I haven’t thought of myself before reading. You point out with your lawyerly skill that my engineering intuitions are correct — Adnan may be guilty but Jay’s testimony (and therefore the state’s narrative) is worthless.

    If Adnan is guilty it is a shame that the state didn’t work harder to get the true story out of fear of creating bad evidence. My personal hobby horse is “why didn’t the police / prosecution subpoena records from the phones they think were the incoming calls in the call log? How hard is it to nail down incoming calls for 1 day?”.

    Thanks again, I’ll be reading all your posts about the Serial Podcast!

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  25. You can add one more to “Number of Shovels Used to Bury Hae:”

    * “One shovel and a pick”

    Jay: Um ah he ah he got kind of frantic and we had to go back and get the car, we went back and got the car and ah then we went back to my house. I gave him a shovel, gave him a pick. He ah.

  26. Thank you for your well reasoned argument on the evidence. It is dumbfounding to see a case like this where the only person demonstrably involved in a crime goes unpunished by the system–and is interviewed for only 30 minutes during 15 months of research for the Serial podcast!

    And this is because… Jay has no motive to murder Adnan’s longtime girlfriend? But Jay has the most classic motives of all: actual, observed possessive jealousy (of Stephanie), sadistic curiosity and lack of empathy (as demonstrated in his willingness to stab a friend to make him “see what it feels like”), and the ability to both feel and conceal what he calls “animal rage”. So why disregard this remotely possible scenario: As we know, Adnan buys Jay’s girlfriend a birthday present when Jay buys her nothing. Jay, furious, believes Adnan is sleeping with Stephanie and, to recover his sense of power, decides to kill the person he considers to be Adnan’s girl with, as he puts it, “my bare hands”–both for the rush of it and as a warning to Stephanie. Not necessarily what happened, but so obvious it’s hard to see why no one looks into it.

  27. “Jay’s testimony that he buried Hae was corroborated by the fact he knew where she was buried, and how she was positioned in the grave.”

    And now even THIS has changed in the Intercept interview:
    J: He’s gone with Hae’s car. It takes him about half an hour, 45 minutes, and he comes back with gloves on, panting, like, ‘She was really heavy.’ That’s all he says. That’s about burying her.

    Q: Adnan had just buried Hae on his own?

    Yes. When we were digging the hole, it’s not like Hae’s body was just lying next to us. She was still in the trunk.

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  31. I’m sorry, not sure if this has been brought up already but you write that one of the ways Jay’s testimony was corroborated was “by the fact he knew where she was buried, and how she was positioned in the grave.” But in the Intercept interview, didn’t he mention that he sat in the car smoking cigarettes while Adnan moved & buried the body alone — meaning, he wouldn’t know how the body was positioned? (Even though, according to you, he did?)

  32. Wonderful analysis Susan!

    As a former barristers assistant, my questions that the evidence answers after listening to the Serial podcast:

    Who worked on their story immediately after killing Hae? Jay
    (The immediate spread of Misinformation: “I just witnessed Adnan bury Hae”)

    Who behaved strangely after the killing? Jay

    Who buried the body? Jay

    Who cleaned their prints/dna from all the equipment used to bury Hae? Jay

    Who disposed of their clothes & shoes after the killing? Jay

    Who knew how the body was positioned? Jay

    Who knew exact location of Hae’s car? Jay

    Who has an ever changing story? Jay

  33. I found your analysis extremely interesting and right on point. Two items I would like to mention for your thoughts. Everyone and I mean everyone makes two possible erroneous assumptions about the murder. Assumptions are not facts.
    First although it is logical and probably correct to assume that Hae was murdered on the 13th it is not correct to assume she was buried on the 13th. What if she was buried later on the 14th? That might explain Jay’s inability to make his timeline for the evening of the 13th fit his story. His hanging out with Adnan that evening could have been an attempt to bring Adnan to the front of the suspect list. We only have Jays testimony that Hae was buried the same day she was murdered. I don’t think forensics could pinpoint the murder or burial time as Jan 13 after finding the body a month later. Panic, an ice storm and frozen ground, could explain a 6 inch deep grave. Were the activities of Jay and Adnan (and Jen as she admitted she was involved in the cover up also)on the following day ever looked at by the police?
    The second item is just a behavioral item I noticed in Jays statement. That is his conspicuous mentioning of Adnan wearing red gloves when he(Jay) picked up Adnan at best buy. This is odd in that, as erratic as his testimony was over the course of his numerous interviews, he remembered that particular item. Guilty parties seem to always provide to many little details that regular or witnesses would not notice. Were red gloves ever found in Adnan’s possesion? Not that meaningful since Jay and Adnan hung out together. People trying to mislead do rehearse their story and say the same things over and over. He couldn’t do that with his timeline because the police kept pointing out how it couldn’t have happened the way he said it did. He did stick to the pay phone at Best Buy which was a lie which means he probably didn’t see the red gloves either. Why did he mention this seeming innoculous item. Of all the things he misremembers, or just lies about, red gloves stick in his mind. Very odd except that he gives the cops a reason to not find claw marks on Adnan’s hands and wrists. Manual strangulation victims always claw the perp. Was Jay ever checked for scratches I wonder?
    Sorry this was longer than I intended but this case makes it hard to be short.
    I am not sure who is guilty here but I firmly believe that Jen is the key to finding the answer.
    Also, as involved as she was, why was Jen never charged as an accessory? Was part of Jays plea deal to keep her name out of it?

    • “What if she was buried later on the 14th?”

      Ice storm at 4:30 am morning of 1/14. Ground frozen (digging a grave, even a shallow one for someone 5’8″ is not easy in normal ground, and would be a terrible task on frozen ground with ice everywere). Rigor mortis in full effect, so body joints would be broken to lay it out in grave (the freezing weather after 4 am would basically keep the rigor mortis in full effect, plus the freezing weather would further stiffen the body). Lividity pattern would be locked in and consistent with being curled up in trunk, and not laying in grave, and this would still be visible 6 weeks later. This scenario is very unlikely. Also, I think the cell phone the next day has no calls to Jay or Jenn, and Adnan has witnesses for that day.

      I’ve also been curious about the red gloves, and assume since they’ve never been mentioned by police/prosecutor that they were a dead end. Jay adds lots of oddly specific details, like saying he could hear the highway from outside his grandma’s house. I do suspect there were a pair of red gloves involved that day, but the fact that it never came up at trial assures me that the detectives couldn’t link them to Adnan.

      “Manual strangulation victims always claw the perp.”

      I think you just made a massive, and incorrect, assumption. Also, Jenn was never charged. Jay’s plea deal doesn’t mention her.

  34. Right I finished listening this morning, and I have a couple of questions that I hope that you can begin to answer.

    1. Hae has to pick up the cousin, daily, a non-negotiable event.
    – How long is the drive/distance from the school to where the cousin is?
    – Where does the cousin go to, what is her destination
    -If it’s a non-nogitiable event at what point does the cousin get worried or start making calls?

    I might have missed this in the podcast, but nothing is mentioned about a normal day for Hae, what is her timeline and expected or supposed journey after school look like?

    I’m also somewhat confused about the cell-phone. I presume back then, it was an expensive, luxury item? If it was why would you give your newest prized possession to friend to use? So you could call them later? Don’t they have a pager like what was common and usual?

    I’m sure there us something darker and undercurrent in the relationship with Jay the really poor drug dealer who is always on the look out for drugs and Adnan, it’s almost like the elephant in the room.

  35. All of Jay’s, and Jenn’s for that matter, story changes and shifting narrative are aimed at one thing. To downplay Jay’s role in the actual murder. He knows that he might get a deal with a “Accessory after the fact” charge but not with a murder 1 charge. He has to make it seem like he was only helping a friend and only after he had been threatened. At one point Adnan was theoretically threatening him with his drug sales job, as if that was not common knowledge. Jay even says that he has a lengthy record, which as the police point out, he doesn’t. When that doesn’t play well he changes to Adnan threatening his girlfriend and Adnan has connections to people that frighten Jay.

    Jay also says that he knew of the plot the night before, but changed that story to the day of the killing. Presumably, the night before starts to sound too much like Jay was in on the premeditation. Too close to the action.

    This all seems like subterfuge to me. It is likely to hide his real involvement in the murder. I have not sen it but have heard that after this event, Jay does develop a lengthy rap sheet with some violent charges. That sounds like it has the ring of truth if perhaps he was the murderer.

  36. “I don’t think it means what she thinks it means.” Ha! Very nice.

    Seriously, I found my way to your blog after being incensed by the Urick interview. After reading your thoughtful analysis there, I’ve been making my way through your other posts. Seeing the inconsistent statements laid out as you have done so above is really disheartening. Disgusting is maybe a better word. Seven different places where Jay saw the body!!! Seven!!!

    Anyway, it’s obvious you’ve spent a lot of time crafting your posts, just wanted to give a little shout out to that.

  37. I’m surprised no one has brought up the possibility of Roy Davis having killed Hae. He previously
    killed her classmate, Jada Lambert, by strangulation and left her body by a stream. This murder happened six months previously and he was linked to it via DNA evidence as he was already in jail for something else. Perhaps he was Jay’s pot supplier. He lived in the area, on the same route that Hae probably took that day, had been arrested for marijuana possession, had daughters at Woodlawn high school etc. etc. He was a nasty man and Jay would have been right to be afraid of him. Perhaps Davis kills Hae randomly like he had previously killed Lambert, he then contacts Jay to ask his help in disposing the body. Remember the witness at the video store who testifies how scarred Jay was of Adnan when he was waiting for the cops? Makes no sense unless Jay is actually thinking of Roy but is saying Adnan to keep his story consistent.

    So the cops interrogate him and since Jay he happened to have Adnan’s cell phone that day. He needs to protect himself from being an accessory after the fact. But, he’s afraid to point the finger at Roy Davis and Adnan is the one the cops already think did it. So he tells them what they want to hear. It’s also better than fingering Roy and he tells himself he didn’t commit the murder so it’s not his fault. All of Jay’s facts are wrong because he’s making the story up as he goes. Anyhow, here’s a link to the Roy Davis theory.

  38. This is all so compelling. I’m late reading/commenting on this post but have been poring over all of your great work on this blog and continually checking at the subreddit post-Serial.
    ” –regardless of what actually happened, Jay could be expected to give the exact same testimony. Jay’s testimony therefore does not increase or decrease the probability that Adnan is actually guilty of Hae’s murder.” < This is exactly what I keep coming back to. Jay's stories have changed too many times for any one of them to stand out as credible and it appears that he could've acted alone without Adnan's knowledge or involvement. Yet — Adnan's presence was so spectral that day. His presence faded in and was accounted for when it wasn't during a key time and it faded out and couldn't be accounted for when it was during a key time (I'm referring to school, track and mosque). This pattern exists with or without cellphone records or Jay's testimony. Aside from possibly Asia M., there are no personal recollections or testimonies that place Adnan out of accusation's way during the window of key events on the timeline. I would love for Adnan to innocent, understand, but unless the other participant was (and is) a twisted individual determined to frame Adnan for murder, it seems to come to a dead end for Adnan. Why would he kill Hae if it was Adnan he had a problem with? An accidental killing and framing MIGHT make a little more sense but it's unknowable how Jay and Hae might've come together in that very small window of opportunity. I thought of a pre-planned weed score stop on her way to get her cousin — like, maybe the 2:36 incoming at Jenn's when Jay had the cellphone was actually Hae letting him know she was meeting him. No matter who was involved, there are crucial pieces of the story that are missing.

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  41. Susan,
    You know more than anyone else about Rabia Chaudry questionable involvement in this story. Adnan was not a manacle killer but unfortunately he had a condition. Can he be saved? I don’t know because Rabia has him painted into a corner.
    I’m sure it was a first years law student who told him to say nothing, ask for an attorney, claim innocent no matter what hoping for a plea deal. But in this country with murders like this very little is ever offered, only an admission with mercy or a court trial. Had he admitted it at the time the boy would be a free man today. But we take notice to those boys and girls that don’t discuss with investigator their version of events.
    Now they recognize the condition may be worst than first thought, deciding the perpetrator must be kept from society.
    Again and Again it pops up that Adnan had to keep his parents in the dark about many things. The police requested an interview from him after Hae Min Lee went missing. He requested to the them if his older brother could accompany him instead of his father, that’s sad in itself. Adnan continue to miss these appointments up to and past the discovery of Hae Lee’s body.
    In itself does not mean proof of deed, but similar actions like this add up to logical people, especially if witnesses rant a linear version of events backed up the findings of the investigation.
    I don’t know if your’re on the payroll or working subcontract for the trust fund, but I would take a close look towards the future spiritual impacts with involvement of the obvious.
    Rabia Chaudry, the woman in the video, contacted Asia the night the murderer was arrest pressing Asia for an alibi.
    Rabia instructed Asia to write to Adnan in jail and make offer to Alibi, it contained enough information so that Adnan would know the alibi.
    Get a copy of Asia’s first 2 letters to Adnan. Read the offer “I will do this IF you do that”

    Asia never brought her information to police or the defense attorney Gutierrez. Gutierrez did know about some of the content of the letters and smelt a rat or offer to produce a false alibi and stayed away from being involved in Rabia’s invention. Gutierrez as an officer of the court could not actively seek a fraudulent alibi.
    In 2000 after Adnan’s conviction, Rabia once again took up the false alibi by arriving at Asia’s house to push to sign an affidavit of her “memory”.
    She did again in 2010 and 2014 mis-describing the true nature of events and the alibi.

    What Rabia says is not as important as what she doesn’t say, 2 witnesses place Adnan at the center of the crime, the money poring in from the Serial podcast is flooding into a defense trust fund to which she provides direct sub-contract of the fund, or is an employee and board member. She describes herself as the public face of Adnan which is amusing in a way. She has many issues in telling the truth of events and evidence.

    Her expertise is in Bio-psychology, the study of words and events on the human mind. She’s well aware how to manipulate words and emotions to change a guilty person into an innocent little boy..Most accused criminals plea innocent in order to push the District Attorney into a decision of resources against protecting the public, major trials are very costly. But in the murder of Hae Min Lee there was not going to be a plea deal, it was too horrific to the family and community..

    Adnan was found guilty on the preponderance of the evidence which included a mountain of collected facts, physical evidence and witnesses. Rabia won’t accept this truth and would rather lie to the public. The plan is to get him off on a technicality, fax cover sheet.

    We need to stop this activity from being a standard in our society otherwise be flooded with thousands of other misleading podcasts and public relations operations out simply to cloud fund for profit.
    Don’t buy her book, it’s filled with only conjecture and no real facts or evidence.
    Can you imagine a criminal and it’s advocates devising such a scam for profit from the brutal death of Hae Min Lee.

    • I think adnan did it bcos he claims he ostensibly has no recollection of the the time frame matching hae’s disappearance but recalls other time frames. He also didn’t call her home or family when she disappeared, even though he was intimate enough to call her 3 times the midnight before her disappearance.

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  57. I think that Adnan is innocent because jay lied way too much to make his statement reliable and there is proof that Adnan is not guilty there for one is that Asia says she saw him at the library that day and also her boyfriend (Justin) best friend also saw him at the library as well and then there is the blood that is not Adnan form the body check on Hae Min Lee. I would not belive Jay for one moment he gives out drugs and he lied twice to the police and why the hell is he not in jail whatever police were on this trail did a very bad job.

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