Serial: An Examination of the Prosecution’s Evidence Against Adnan Syed

In previous posts, I’ve dissected both Adnan’s cell phone records and also Jay’s statements to the police and his testimony at trial. This post, rather than focusing on any single piece of the state’s case, is an attempt to assemble and review all available evidence that supports the state’s case against Adnan. If any readers think there is evidence that I’ve left off, please let me know — all reasonable evidence will be added. My goal is to have as complete a record as possible, with links to the available primary documents. Even for those of you who don’t agree with my analysis, hopefully it will be still be helpful to have a collection of the known evidence collected in one place.

Where relevant, I have also noted which of the three categories the state’s evidence falls into: (1) evidence that the prosecution could and did use against Adnan at trial; (2) evidence that the prosecution could not use against Adnan at trial, but somehow was able to get admitted at trial anyway; and (3) evidence that the prosecution could not use or did not have at the time of Adnan’s trial, but which we have now because it has been made available on Serial. That way, people can evaluate the case against Adnan in light of both the evidence that the prosecution should have been able to use at Adnan’s trial, and also in light of all evidence that is currently availability, regardless of its admissibility for trial purposes.

Summary of the State’s Case

There was no physical evidence linking Adnan to Hae’s murder. It should be noted that this was not because of any lack of effort on the state’s part; in developing a case against Adnan, investigators compared soil found on Adnan’s boots to soil samples where Hae’s body was found, looked for Adnan’s fingerprints in Hae’s car and at the crime scene, tried to match fibers and hairs found at the crime scene with Adnan’s hair and clothes. But all of that came up empty.

And by itself, that might not mean anything. Sometimes criminals are really careful about not leaving trace evidence behind, or just get really lucky. But that does mean that the state’s evidence against Adnan did not consist of any evidence that could show a physical link between Adnan and any of the crime scenes. Instead, the state built its case out of three main pillars: Jay’s testimony, Adnan’s cell phone records, and evidence suggesting that Adnan is the kind of person who could have killed his ex-girlfriend in a vengeful rage.

The first two points I have already addressed in detail (in posts outlining the lack of any objective basis for concluding that Jay’s testimony was credible; the contradictory and dreamlike nature of Jay’s statements concerning Hae’s burial; the indications from the transcripts of Jay’s police interviews that hist statement was coached by detectives; and a comparison of the data from Adnan’s cell phone records and the witness statements). While I have also provided a brief (well, sorta brief…) summary of those topics below, please check the prior posts for the complete discussion on those issues.

That leaves us with the third type of evidence in the state’s case against Adnan: evidence suggesting that Adnan is the kind of person who could have killed Hae. This category include evidence based on witness’s perceptions of an individual’s behavior or character, when that perception had been informed by the perceiver’s knowledge of that individual’s possible involvement in a crime. It includes, for example, evidence that is introduced to show that someone’s reactions to an event were not what his or her reaction “should have been,” or that the way someone had been acting was odd or shady, or that someone was “the kind of person” who might commit a crime.

And I’ll go ahead fully disclose my biases now: as far as I’m concerned, this sort of post hoc, perception-based evidence is the modern day successor to phrenology and tarot card readings. Because I don’t care what kind of person Adnan is or was; I don’t care if he stole candy from babies, or smoked a bowl of weed every morning, or if he bullied kids for their lunch money. I also don’t care if he pauses too long (or not long enough) when answering questions, or if he shows insufficient anger about being imprisoned, or if he was born a Pisces with Jupiter rising. None of that has even the slightest relevance to the question of whether he killed Hae. If Adnan had previously tried to kill someone he was in an intimate relationship with, or even used physical violence against them — well, I would care about that, that would have some relevance, but as far I know there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest anything along those lines. And by the same token, I don’t care what kind of person Jay is or was, either. I don’t care if he has a criminal record, I don’t care if he dealt drugs, and I don’t care if he tried to stab a friend because the friend needed to know what being stabbed felt like. (And I definitely do not care if he owned a rat-eating toad.)

So while I have tried to list all of the state’s evidence against Adnan in this post, I make no promises about giving any serious consideration to “evidence” consisting of things such as “I can tell that Adnan is a sociopath because he once described his facial expression to someone he was speaking to on the phone” is not going to make the cut. You are, of course, free to disagree with me on the significance of that kind of evidence. However, any time the state’s case is based upon a suggestion that Adnan was a “bad person,” and therefore could have been capable of killing Hae, I would encourage you to consider whether or not that sort of amateur psychoanalysis can truly serve as a replacement for evidence demonstrating that Adnan actually killed Hae.

(1) Jay’s Testimony that Adnan Killed Hae.

Jay’s testimony is the crux of the case against Adnan. Without Jay testifying at trial, the prosecution’s case could not have withstood a motion for judgment of acquittal.

But since Jay would have been expected to give precisely that same testimony regardless of whether Adnan was guilty or innocent, there is no reason to assume that it proves — let alone proves beyond a reasonable doubt — that Adnan was actually the murderer. Although the jurors at Adnan’s trial chose to credit Jay’s testimony, we also know, from Episode 8, that at least one of the jurors based that belief on a mistaken assumption about the nature of his testimony. The juror stated that she had chosen to credit Jay because it

struck [her] that “why would [Jay] admit to doing something that drastic if [Adnan] hadn’t done it?” You know what I mean? For what reason? What was he going to gain from that? He still had to go to jail.

But we know exactly what Jay was going to gain from that. During initial police interviews, Jay’s “admission” to helping bury Hae provided Jay with a way to avoid police scrutiny into his own responsibility for Hae’s death. And at Adnan’s trial, Jay was given both a carrot, in the form of an amazingly favorable plea bargain if he stuck with the prosecution’s script, and a stick, in the form of threatened jail time if he failed to do so.

Moreover, the timing of Jenn’s and Jay’s initial contacts with the police, and their subsequent interviews, show us the series of events that led to Jay making the rational choice to “confess” to his role in the cover up of Hae’s murder. On February 27, 1999, Jay walked into a police interview with two detectives who were already convinced of Adnan’s guilt, and had the testimony of one witness — Jenn — to back it up. And while we do not know the details of what occurred during Jay’s “pre-interview” that day, it does not take a great leap of the imagination to think that the detectives’ approach to the interview was something along the lines of, “C’mon, Jay, we know you helped Adnan bury the body. We got a witness saying you were there. We got evidence showing you were there. We got evidence that you and Adnan talked the night before the murder to plan it all out. And if you don’t start talking now, we’re going to assume you had something more to do with it than just helping with the disposal.”

[Edit, 12/22/2014: It was far more blatant than that. The police informed Jay that if he did not implicate Adnan in Hae’s murder, then Jay would be getting charged with the murder”

In light of that, there should be no question as to why Jay would have implicated Adnan in Hae’s death. Jay has said it himself — he accused Adnan of murder so that he could avoid being charged with the murder himself.]

In addition, the precise details of Jay’s plea deal, and the arrangement through which a private defense counsel that was hand-selected for him by the prosecutor, was not disclosed to the defense in advance of trial, which prevented them from being able to make the greatest use out of this striking information. Like Jay testified, something “smelled fishy” about the way he obtained his defense counsel, and he has suspicions that his counsel was representing the prosecutor’s interest and not his own (Appellee’s Brief at 12-13).

Jay might very well have been right about that — the most obvious explanation for why the prosecutor was so eager to handpick a private defense attorney for Jay is because the prosecutor was concerned that a PDS attorney might have advised Jay against pleading to a felony, as the state’s only evidence against Jay was his own (possibly improperly Mirandized) statements.

So Jay making a sweet deal to save himself from a much worse criminal charge is not reliable evidence of Adnan’s guilt. Jay’s testimony only becomes evidence of Adnan’s guilt if the factfinder believes that he or she possesses a special ability to act as a human polygraph machine, with the power to sort truth from lies merely by observing someone speak. And that is not something humans are actually capable of doing. It was undisputed at trial that Jay had lied in every police statement he had ever given; why should anyone expect he started telling the truth at Adnan’s trial?

(2) Adnan’s Status as Hae’s Ex-Boyfriend.

At trial, the prosecution argued that Adnan’s status as Hae’s ex-boyfriend was evidence that he was guilty murdering Hae. And that is a fine argument for them to have made, to the extent that it sets the stage for the alleged motive for the offense, but that is as far as that evidence can take you. I have seen a lot people, however, trying to argue that Adnan is almost certainly guilty of Hae’s murder simply because, statistically, intimate partners are responsible for most homicides with female victims, and therefore it is overwhelmingly likely that Adnan was the killer. But this murder-by-numbers approach to crime solving makes two huge mistakes: it relies on inaccurate numbers and faulty application of the data.

First, let’s look at the numbers. Of all female murder victims, somewhere between two-fifths and one-third are killed by an intimate partner (defined as a current or former spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend). Although the precise numbers depend on which study you are relying on for your data, one Bureau of Justice Statistics Report released in 2001 found that, from 1993-1999, a total of twenty-two percent of female homicide victims between the ages of 16-19 were killed by an intimate partner.

This is a significant number, and Adnan should absolutely have been on a list of people to be investigated in Hae’s death. But if you are looking at crime statistics to solve this murder, then you would now have to conclude that Adnan is almost certainly innocent, or at least that there is no way the government could have proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. After all, that means there is only a 1 in 5 chance he did it, right? (Actually, less than one in five — Adnan was not Hae’s only intimate partner. We know of at least one other, which means that, statistically, there can only be a 1 in 10 chance that Adnan is guilty!) (/s.)fn*

But the published statistical reports are irrelevant. Because crime statistics cannot provide evidence of Adnan’s guilt, no matter what the precise numbers might be. While this kind of data is very useful during the investigation stage, and provides detectives with a way to identify potentially productive leads, it has no use when it comes to demonstrating that a specific suspect committed a specific crime.

For that reason, Adnan’s status as Hae’s ex-boyfriend is as irrelevant as is the chatter about Jay’s criminal record. Yes, when looking at crime statistics, it may be possible to conclude that individuals with a history of certain violent offenses are more likely to commit homicide. But that data is meaningless, because this isn’t a sociology project. And neither the prosecution (or Serial listeners) are ever going to get closer to figuring out who is responsible for killing Hae Min Lee by choosing to follow general statistical trends rather than the evidence.

(3) Adnan Asked Hae for a Ride on the Day of Her Disappearance.

One of the prosecution’s more intriguing and confusing pieces of evidence against Adnan is testimony suggesting that, on the day of Hae’s disappearance and presumed death, Adnan had asked Hae for a ride. Here is what we know so far, from both the podcast and the available court records. On April 9, 1999, Becky, one of Hae and Adnan’s classmates, was interviewed by the police. Notes from that interview provided the following:

Sometime earlier that day, apparently [Adnan] asked her to take him possibly to get car before lunch because it was in the shop. Heard about it at lunch.  . . . Hae said she could, there would be no problem. At end of school I saw them. She said ‘Oh no I can’t take you, I have something else to do.’ She didn’t say what else. Approximately 2:20.  . . . He said, ‘Okay I’ll just ask someone else.’ . . . He told her goodbye.

Did not see Hae after that. (Episode 2.)

In the podcast, however, Becky states that she “remember[s] that there was talk about” Adnan asking Hae for a ride. This makes it sound as if Becky did not actually witness Adnan asking Hae for a ride (which means her testimony would not have been admissible at trial, and could explain why she was not called by the prosecution). Moreover, it is also not clear from Becky’s statements when the “talk about” Adnan asking for a ride occurred — from available context, it seems she may be referring to talk that occurred after Hae’s disappearance, or even after Adnan’s arrest, rather than talk that occurred on the day of Hae’s disappearance. The police statement itself is equally vague, using the word “apparently,” and not specifying whether the source of Becky’s information was first-hand or the talk that she had heard at school.

Krista, another friend of Hae and Adnan’s, also stated the following on the podcast:

If I remember correctly (laugh) I think Adnan and I were taking– ah, had a class together, um our first period class was Photography, and she– they passed each other in the hallway and I was with him and I remember somebody saying or him saying something about ‘Can you give me a ride after school?’ (Episode 2.)

Again, we have a maddeningly ambiguous witness statement. Did Krista hear Adnan saying something about a ride, or somebody saying something about Adnan asking for a ride?

Officer Adcock, who called Adnan at 6:24 p.m. on the night of Hae’s disappearance, testified to the following at trial:

I spoke to Mr. Syed and he advised me that, ah, he did see the victim in school that day, and that um, he was supposed to get a ride home from the victim, but he got detained at school and she just got tired of waiting and left (Episode 2.)

Later, on February 1, another detective called Adnan to ask about Hae, and

[a]sk[ed] him ‘did you tell Officer Adcock you’d asked Hae for a ride?’ . . . Adnan says this was incorrect because he drives his own car to school. (Episode 2.)

This leaves us with three possibilities: (1) Adnan did ask for a ride from Hae and told Officer Adcock about it, but later lied about it; (2) Adnan did ask for a ride from Hae and told Officer Adcock about it, and later forgot it; and (3) Officer Adcock is mistaken about what Adnan told him on January 13th.

If Adnan did ask Hae for a ride on January 13th, that alone is not significant evidence. Since Jay had his car, Adnan might have just wanted to get a ride to the 7-11. On the other hand, if Adnan asked for a ride and later lied about it — that could be very significant.

But just to make this all the more confusing, here is what else we know. Inez, who ran the concession stand at the school, says that she saw Hae at around 2:20 p.m., when Hae parked her car by the gym, engine still running, and ran in to get some snacks. Inez also says Hae told her “to tell the bus not to leave her,” implying that Hae would be back to catch the bus to the boy’s wrestling match (since Hae was a team manager and needed to be there to keep score). But Inez also says she did not see Adnan anywhere nearby at the time — and if Hae was trying to leave school quickly that day (as Hae’s friend Debbie has said), then she presumably left campus straight from the concession stand, leaving Adnan no time to get in her car.

And then we have Jay. Jay, as usual, tells us a lot of things on this subject, but unfortunately none of those things are consistent. In his first interview, Jay says the following about why Adnan gives him his car that day:

Detective: Why does he give you his car?

Jay: Um so I could finish doing, while he was in school and what. (Int.1 at 3.)1

Later though, at Jay’s second interview, his story changes, and he gives the following two explanations:

Detective: Ah, does [Adnan] tell you how he’s gonna do it [when you and Adnan went shopping together on January 12th]?

Jay: No, but he tell me that ah, he’s gonna do it in her car. Um, he said to me that he was going to ah, tell her his car was broken down and ah, ask her for a ride. And that was, and that was it, that. (Int.2 at 4.)

Detective: And the reason you have the car and the cell phone was why?

Jay: To pick him up from wherever he was gonna do this at. . . .  He he , that day he told me yes. He told me um, I’m gonna leave you with my cell phone and my car, I need you to come get me, yes. (Int.2 at 7.)

Both of Jay’s new answers contradict his statement in the first interview, and while the new answers are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they are different. Did Jay did Adnan give Jay his car so that he could tell Hae it was broken down, or did Adnan give Jay his car so that Jay could pick him up later? Either, both, neither? No way to tell — as I have already discussed at length elsewhere, Jay’s statements during his second interview cannot be assumed to be statements about his own knowledge, due to the extensive pre-interview prepping and mid-interview coaching that went on. So his answers in the second interview are useful for showing one thing only: that by March 15, 1999, the investigators have a theory that Adnan asked Hae for a ride on the day of her murder.

And in any event, by the time we get to trial, Jay has totally discarded the story about Adnan telling Hae his car was broken down. It is just not part of the story. Jay claims the whole conversation on January 12th never even occurred in the first place. Instead, all that happened is that Adnan “told [Jay] he could drop [Adnan] off at school and take [Adnan’s] car as long as he picked [Adnan] up later. [Adnan] gave [Jay] [Adnan’s] cell phone so that he could call [Jay] when he was ready to be picked up.” (Brief of Appellant at 7.)

But Jay’s testimony provides some even more confusing evidence about the claim that Adnan asked Hae for a ride on the day she went missing. Because if Adnan did tell Officer Adcock that he had asked Hae for a ride that day, why on earth does Jay not remember this? Because Jay clearly remembers the phone call with Officer Adcock, but he does not recall anything about Adnan having asked for a ride.2

Here’s what he has to say about the call in the first interview:

Jay: [B]efore that happened we were … we were eating and ah police officer called him on the phone and then we cut the meal short because we got to go back to the Park and Ride.
Detective: When a police officer called him on the phone, do you recall what time that was?
Jay: No I don’t, but I remember it, I remember ’cause he kept saying … yes no …. yes no …
Detective: Did he tell you he was talking to a police officer?
Jay: Uh huh.
Detective: Did he tell you what that conversation was about?
Jay: Ah he said that Hae didn’t pick up her cousin, they already looking for her. (Int.1 at 12-13.)

And by the time of the second interview, Jay has this to say:

Detective: How how do you know Adnan got a call from the Police Department?
Jay: Um, because that’s what he does, he holds the phone away and says police. And at that time I started panicking.
Detective: Were you inside the apartment or outside the apartment.
Jay: We’re in, we were just leaving. We were stepping from the foyer into the hallway. And ah, he he he, he talks to the cops and um, I hear the beginning of the conversation he lied to him and tells him he doesn’t, he doesn’t know were she is, he hasn’t seen her. Tells him to look for her old boyfriend um, that, that ah, that’ s just how she is. She’s a flighty person like that, um, check with her friends. (Int.2 at 25.)

Detective: Okay do you recall what kind of statements he made to t he police?
Jay: Um, I knew them to be totally false, he told them he had no knowledge of were she was. Um, he gave them other people’s name to try to look for her and told him that that was her personality.
Detective: Said that, find inaudible, go over that again. During the pre, pre-interview you said um, maybe you wanna try her new boyfriend that she may be with him?
Jay: Yes.
Detective: And also that he and ah, [Hae and Adnan] had been broken up for awhile?
Jay: Yes.
Detective: You also said that she may have just ran off and also told them that he may wanna check with some of her friends?
Jay: Yes. (Int.2 at 63.)

But completely absent from any of Jay’s statements about the Officer Adcock call are any references to Adnan having asked Hae for a ride.

So that’s what we do know about the claim that Adnan asked Hae for a ride that day. There are still a lot of unknowns regarding it — I probably have more questions about this piece of the prosecution’s evidence than I do about any other, simply because so little has been released to us so far. Because the evidence we have right now points in too many directions; it is hard to conclude which factual scenario is most likely.

First, we have Krista’s and Becky’s statements. Neither are completely clear about the source of their information — about whether they directly witnessed Adnan asking Hae for a ride, or whether they simply heard “talk about it” — and neither appears to have made any statements about Adnan asking Hae for a ride until a long time after Hae’s disappearance. Why didn’t they? Surely Becky would have thought that was important information to tell someone, but her police statement was dated April 9th, nearly three months later.3 And why are Becky and Krista so sure that Adnan asked Hae for a ride on the day she went missing? If these statements came only months later, is it possible that they are conflating two events that happened on different days? (Or could it be possible that their memories are conflated with some kind of memory of Hae asking Adnan for a ride? Because, interestingly, we do know Hae’s car had broken down in the days preceding her death, and on that occasion Adnan had been the one to drive her home. Perhaps Adnan had also given Hae a ride from school to pick up her car after it had been fixed?)

And then we have Officer Adcock’s testimony. But without the transcripts or corresponding police records, I am not sure what to make of it. The appellate briefs do not reference it, and our only information about the call comes a brief mention in Episode 2, and an even briefer mention in Episode 6. And while we know that there was a written police record concerning Adnan’s second call with the police (on February 1st) which notes that Adnan denied telling Officer Adcock that he had asked Hae for a ride, we have no idea if there are any written records concerning Officer Adcock’s original call on January 13th, or if instead all we have to go on is Officer Adcock’s own recollections. Is it possible Officer Adcock confused Adnan with someone else he talked to that day? After all, he was calling a bunch of Hae’s friends to find out if anyone had seen her, and if there are no written notes from those conversations, I am less certain about how much we can trust Officer Adcock’s memory of his call to Adnan. Because if Adnan did make the statement to Officer Adcock, then why doesn’t Jay remember it at all, when something like that would have been so beneficial for his story?

So right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions about this part of the state’s case, and I hope we do get more information at some point about what was going on. But at the end of the day,  whatever factual scenario the prosecution decides to run with, they still have a big problem with trying to use this evidence to show that Adnan committed murder — because the evidence that Adnan asked Hae for a ride thoroughly contradicts the prosecution’s theory of the case. While evidence that Adnan asked for a ride from Hae could have been useful to the prosecution as evidence as to how Adnan may have been able to accomplish the crime, the very existence of that evidence also has the effect of completely undercutting their case. Having multiple witnesses who could testify about Adnan’s request for a ride is strong evidence against the prosecution’s premeditation theory:

(i) If Adnan did kill Hae, why on earth would he have asked her for a ride in a public location, where other students could witness him doing so? If he is planning to kill her after school, it will be immediately obvious to all of their friends who was with her last. The fact that he publicly asked for a ride from Hae is by far stronger evidence that he did not have any plans to kill her.

(ii) If Adnan did kill Hae, why on earth would he admit this to a police officer that evening? He had to know that would be a red flag; it is inexplicable why he would voluntarily disclose that fact to a cop who was simply calling around to ask if anyone had seen Hae. And if Adnan did, for some bizarre reason, admit this fact to an officer, why would he change his story later and claim he did not? The lie that he asked for a ride is far, far more damaging to his case than the fact of him asking ever could be. So why would a guilty Adnan have intentionally changed his story on this point?

(iii) If Adnan did ask Hae for a ride, the prosecution still lacks evidence to show how Adnan could have actually pulled off the murder, because all of the available evidence (Inez’s statements, Becky’s statements, Adnan’s statements) consistently establishes that Adnan did not actually get a ride with Hae that day. So how can Adnan asking for a ride be evidence of his guilt, when that same evidence that shows he asked for a ride also establishes that he did not actually get a ride with her at the end of the day?

So that leaves the prosecution with two options. One option is that Adnan did publicly ask Hae for a ride that day, because he genuinely needed a ride, and later he and Hae got into an argument resulting in Hae’s death — but in that case, the prosecution is left with the problem that all available evidence suggests Adnan was not actually able to get a ride with Hae, and also the even bigger problem that this would be tantamount to admitting that the prosecution’s star witness was lying when he testified about how Adnan planned the crime. The prosecution’s other option is to try to argue that Adnan was so horribly inept at planning a murder that he publicly announced his intention to be alone with the victim at the time of her planned death, and later voluntarily offered this fact to a police officer at the first available opportunity — but in that case, the prosecution is still left with the problem that all available evidence suggests Adnan was not actually able to get a ride with Hae, and also the problem of trying to convincingly argue that someone so stupid and careless could have possibly gotten away with Hae’s murder without leaving any direct evidence of that fact.

(4) Adnan was Acting Paranoid When the Cops Called Him to Ask About Hae.

At trial, Cathy testified that when Adnan and Jay came to her apartment on January 13th, Adnan’s behavior was distinctly odd:

Adnan was lying on some pillows on her floor when he asked, “how do you get rid of a high?” (2/16/00-210) Adnan got a call on his cell phone and said, “they’re going to come and talk to me, what should I say, what should I do?” (2/16/00-213) Then Adnan and Jay left. (2/16/00-214) Jay returned hours later with Jenn, but Adnan was not with them. (Brief of Appellant at 14.)

But any argument from the prosecution that this is evidence of Adnan’s guilty knowledge falls apart under scrutiny.

First, Cathy is the only witness that, to our knowledge so far, has even remotely suggested in their testimony that Adnan’s behavior on the day of Hae’s murder was even remotely suggestive of guilt. No one who saw Adnan at track has suggested that he was acting bizarrely or out of character that day, and even Jenn says that Adnan was completely, utterly normal when she encountered him later that night.

Second, there is an obvious and well-corroborated explanation for Adnan’s weird behavior at Cathy’s — he was super high, and when he found out the police were about to call him, he predictably became paranoid that the police were going to be able to instantly figure out that fact. As the podcast discusses in Episode 8,

There are three calls on the call log around this time that all ping towers near Cathy’s apartment. 6:07, 6:09 and 6:24. The first two calls are for a little less than a minute, the third call is the longest four minutes, fifteen seconds. That was likely Officer Adcock. So maybe Aisha called Adnan at 6:09, says “I just talked to the police and they’re going to get in touch with you too.” Aisha says that Adnan was annoyed. Maybe that’s what Cathy interpreted as panicked. I think we can all stipulate that Adnan was super stoned. He told me he had weed in the car and was worried the cops were going to find it if they came to talk to him. So, imagine for a second that Adnan is talking to Aisha and says something like [quoting Cathy] “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna say? They’re gonna come talk to me. What am I supposed to say?”4

Besides, it is very hard to take Cathy’s story as evidence that Adnan was displaying “guilty behavior,” when even Jay agrees that the reason Adnan was acting weird at her apartment had nothing to do with anxiety over the murder, and everything to do with a cigarette that Jay had given him:

Detective: What happens [at Cathy’s]?

Jay: We smoke again. Um, he’s feeling a little nausea from a cigarette that I’d given him prior to going in the house. So he sits away from the group. Um, we stay there for awhile until ah, we’re interrupted by a phone call. He wakes up and he answers his phone, he ah, it’s a Hae, Hae’s family, they’re looking for Hae. He tells them he has no knowledge were she is. (Int.2 at 25.)

So if Jay thinks the reason that Adnan was passed out and quiet while at Cathy’s house was due to the cigarette that made him sick, the prosecution’s argument that it was evidence that Adnan had committed a murder seems to be a pretty strained and contorted view of the facts. Why isn’t the simpler explanation that, regardless of whether he committed the murder, he was passed out on Cathy’s cushions because of how high he was?

And third, if the prosecution is going to argue that someone’s odd and uncharacteristic behavior on the night of Hae’s disappearance is evidence of their guilt, then they have chosen the wrong target. Because this argument fits perfectly when applied to Jay.

Here is how Cathy describe Jay and Adnan that night:

Cathy thought Jay was acting odd as well. She knew him as this super laid back stoner guy, like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. But now he was being conspicuously chatty. [Jay] [k]inda– dominated the conversation really. . . . [Cathy] does remember talking to Jenn and saying, “Jay’s here with some kid who’s practically passed out on the cushions.” And Jenn thought that was curious, like, “what’s Jay doing there?” She told Cathy that Jay had been acting weird earlier in the day too. The story Cathy is telling is pretty close to what she told the cops during the investigation. Detective MacGillivary interviewed Cathy in March of ‘99, after Adnan had been arrested. She told him back then, she remembered Adnan saying only one thing to the group: “how do I get rid of a high? [ ] I have to meet someone or do something and it’s really important.” And [Cathy] was like, “you just have to let it– just have to let it go.” (Episode 6.)

And in Jenn’s police statement, she also described how Jay was acting weirdly when he was at her house that day. So weirdly, in fact, that she became convinced something was very wrong:

Detective: [Y]ou were talking about Jay was at your house and he wasn’t acting the way he would normally act, I think hyper you used the word?
Jenn: Uh huh.
Detective: And he leaves in what you believe is Adnan’s car, and you knew something was wrong?
Jenn: Uh huh. (Jenn Int. at 32.)

So let’s recap: (1) Cathy and Jay both describe Adnan as being quiet and “practically passed out” at Cathy’s, and Jay believes that Adnan’s behavior is directly attributable to a cigarette, not anxiety about the murder; (2) Cathy’s memories of Adnan freaking out over how to get rid of a high are wholly consistent with his fear of the cops calling him, just as Aisha told him they were about to do; (3) Cathy describes Jay as acting really weird and out of character while he was at her apartment; and (4) Jenn describes Jay as acting really weird and out of character when he was at her house.

(5) Adnan’s Cell Phone Called Nisha When Adnan Claims He Did Not Have His Cell Phone, Showing That He and Jay Were Together Shortly After Hae’s Disappearance.

The “smoking gun” of the prosecution’s case against Adnan was “the Nisha Call”:

Think of it as a title, capitalized, The Nisha Call. Between noon and five pm that day, there are seven outgoing calls on the log, six of them are to people Jay knows, the seventh is to Nisha, someone only Adnan knew. Adnan’s story is that he and his cell phone were separated that day, from lunchtime all the way until after track at around five something. But The Nisha Call happens at 3:32pm. Smack in the middle of the afternoon. The prosecution makes much of this call at closing, and I can see why. (Episode 6.)

From Adnan’s cell records, we know that the Nisha Call lasted 2 minutes and 22 seconds, and was routed through L651C, which is the west-facing antenna of the tower closest to Woodlawn. It is also the same tower and antenna that the two previous calls had been routed through.

Here is what Nisha testified to at Adnan’s first trial, when asked about this call:

Nisha: Ummm, it’s a little hard to recall, but I remember him telling me that Jay invite- invited him over to a video store that he worked at. And, he basically well Adnan walked in with his cell phone and then like- he told me to speak with Jay and I was like ‘okay’ cause Jay wanted to say hi so I said hi to Jay. And that’s all I can really recall.
Prosecutor: What time of day did that occur?
Nisha: I would think towards the evening, but I can’t be exactly sure.

And here is her testimony from Adnan’s second trial:

Prosecutor: [N]ow did there ever come a time when the defendant called you and put a person he identified as Jay on the line?

Nisha: Yes . . . basically Jay had asked him to come to an adult video store that he worked at.

Prosecutor: No don’t– tell us the content of the call.

Nisha: Okay. He just asked me how I was doing, et cetera. (Nisha’s Testimony at Adnan’s Second Trial.)

If the call Nisha is describing is the 3:32 p.m. call from January 13th, then she has a lot of things about it completely wrong:

  • She thinks that Adnan was walking around on foot, rather than driving around in a car.
  • She thinks that Jay was working at an adult video store, when really he did not get that job until about two weeks after Hae’s disappearance.
  • She thinks that the call happened “towards the evening” rather than at 3:32 p.m.
  • She thinks that Jay invited Adnan over somewhere, rather than that Adnan and Jay were already together when the call began.

That is an awful lot of things to get wrong about a phone call. In fact, she is quite literally wrong about everything we know about the call from the cell records, except for perhaps the call’s duration, which she does not testify about.

In Jay’s first interview with the police, he does not mention the Nisha Call, and gives no indication that such a call ever occurred. By the time of the second interview, however, Jay suddenly remembered the call — because just like Detective MacGillivary testified at trial, “[o]nce confronted with the cell phone records, [Jay] ‘remembered things a lot better'” (Brief of Appellant at 12). Here’s what Jay had to say at the second interview:

Detective: How long do you think you were on the telephone?
Jay: Um, [Patrick’s] machine it’ll ring 4 or 5 times before the machine’ll pick up. There’ s a long song on there. Um, then his sister comes on , maybe like 4 minutes.
Detective: Where do you ah, what do you do then after.
Jay: Um.
Detective: The phone message.
Jay: We head to Forrest Park to see if we couldn’t find that corner salesman there um. We go down t here, we buy 2 dime sacks. Um, we turn around, I believe we s topped to get blunts on um, Rogers and Gwynn Oak, Gwynn Oak and Rogers on the corner of Gwynn Oak and Rogers. During the trip from ah, Route 70, over to.
Detective: Forrest Park where you ah, buy marijuana?
Jay: Yes.
Detective: You made the phone call to your friend?
Jay: Yes.
Detective: First .
Jay: Oh.
Detective: And he wasn’t there. Did anybody else use the phone?
Jay: Yeah um, Adnan, I can’t remember whether he received a call or placed a call, but I do remember he was talking to a girl um, I can’t remember her name. He put me on the phone with her for like 3 minutes, I said hello to her.
Detective: Where did she ah, live?
Jay: Silver Spring.
Detective: Do you recall her name?
Jay: No I don’t.
Detective: Is there anything significant about this conversation that you remember?
Jay: No and.
Detective: You have any idea why Adnan would call this individual in Silver Spring after he had just.
Jay: No and.
Detective: [Redacted]
Jay: I don’t and ah, I have no idea why he would call. And and their conversation didn’t pertain to anything that he had just done. So.
Detective: No.
Jay: No I don’t .
Detective: Okay, um how long did that conversation last?
Jay: It was a pretty long conversation, maybe like 7 – 8 minutes, 10 minutes, something like that.
Detective: And he gave you the phone?
Jay: Yeah some point in the conversation, he gave me the phone, told me to speak to the chick.
Detective: And what did you say to her?
Jay: I said a couple of words, hey, who are you, how old are you, um, where do you live at. (Int.2 at 16-17.)

Which means that if the call that Jay is describing is the call that was made to Nisha at 3:32 p.m., his memory of the call is even more inaccurate than Nisha’s was:

  • He says it occurred some time after the call to Patrick was made, but the Patrick call was at 3:59 p.m., while the Nisha call was at 3:32 p.m.
  • He says that the call occurred after he and Adnan were returning from buying weed out at the corner of “Gwynn Oak and Rogers,” and as they were driving past Forest Park golf course, but the cell records show that the call was routed through the Woodlawn tower,  just like the two calls immediately before it and the two calls immediately after (making it impossible for Jay and Adnan to be returning from Forest Park at the time of the call).
  • He says that the call lasted between 7 and 10 minutes, and that for three of those minutes he was the one on the phone with Nisha, when really the call was only 2 minutes 22 seconds.

But even aside from the complete inaccuracy of Jay’s memory concerning the Nisha call, there is something much more troubling about this portion of the interview transcripts, which gives us strong reason to question the legitimacy of his statement. And that’s the fact that, when the detectives interviewed Jay the second time around, they knew precisely one fact about the Nisha Call: that it was made to a girl who lived in Silver Spring. So isn’t it just a little bit concerning that the single detail Jay remembers about the Nisha Call also happened to be the fact that it was made to a girl who lived in Silver Spring?

In any event, while the prosecution is not wrong about the Nisha Call being its “smoking gun,” because it really is the single strongest piece of evidence that they have against Adnan, the problem for the prosecution is that the Nisha Call doesn’t actually prove anything. Even assuming that Adnan really was responsible for killing Hae, then the best interpretation of the available evidence would still be that Adnan made a butt-dial shortly after committing the murder.

Because if there really had been a phone conversation with between Adnan, Jay, and Nisha in the minutes after Hae’s murder, wouldn’t we expect at least one of the participants have recalled at least a single verifiable detail about how that conversation occurred? And even if Adnan really had murdered Hae, is it more likely that, within a few minutes after the murder, Adnan would respond by (a) casually calling up a girl he had met a couple weeks ago so that he could casually flirt with her, or (b) intently focusing on the problem of how he is going to transfer Hae’s body to the trunk of her car without anyone seeing him, and in the course of doing so, bump the phone in his pocket, causing it to dial a number on speed dial?

With regards to the first point, the prosecution’s failure to find a single witness who remembers the Nisha Call occurring at the time and place where the cell records show that it occurred is, in itself, evidence that there never actually was a Nisha Call. Because what is the most logical explanation for when a phone call is made from a cell phone to a number on speed dial, but no one on either end of the line has any recollection of such a phone call being made? That it was a butt dial. So why would that logic not apply here?

And there was no evidence presented at Adnan’s trial to show that the Nisha Call could not have been caused by a butt dial. While Nisha testified that there was no voicemail on the number that was called, whether it did or did not is beside the point, because as /u/serialisgreat has pointed out, cell carriers in those days were billing by the ring, “send to end”:

Most of the nation’s big wireless calling companies begin billing their customers from the moment they press the “send” button on a mobile phone to the moment they hit “end.”

That means the cents are piling up even before the call connects.

Companies including AirTouch, AT&T Wireless, Bell Atlantic Mobile, Sprint PCS, BellSouth Mobility and Nextel Communications all begin their bills from “send,” not “hello.”

Unfortunately, it does not appear that the detectives investigating Adnan’s case ever looked into whether an unanswered butt dial would have shown up in Adnan’s cell records — or if they did, they did not publicize their results. But that fact is kind of interesting all by itself. Because if the prosecutors really thought the Nisha Call really was their “smoking gun,” don’t you think they would have taken some easy steps to bolster their evidence — and to preemptively rebut Adnan’s obvious defense — by confirming that the call could not have been recorded on the cell records unless it had been answered? So why didn’t they?

And on the second point, the prosecution’s theory that Adnan decided to call and flirt with Nisha immediately after he had killed Hae is starting to get a little too far out into Silence of the Lambs territory. Sure, that kind of detail makes Adnan sound callous and horrific, and that nicely supports the prosecution’s whole “Adnan is a cold-blooded killer who took out Hae in order to extract revenge for the slight upon his honor” theory. But while that might make for a good story on a late-night crime drama, it really pushes the boundaries of plausibility to think that, in real life, a 17-year-old that just strangled his ex-girlfriend and has her body in the trunk is going to respond by calling the girl he has been making out with, just so that he can have a casual chat. The prosecution’s theory is that Adnan is killing Hae because he is so distraught and enraged by their breakup, but their theory of the Nisha Call is far more consistent with him being a Ted Bundy-style serial killer.

(6) Adnan’s Cell Phone Made and Received Two Calls That Were Routed Through Leakin Park at the Time That Hae Was Buried.

After the Nisha Call, the second most important piece of evidence in the prosecution’s case consists of the cell records showing that the 7:09 p.m. call to Jenn’s pager, and the 7:16 p.m. incoming call, were both routed through a tower and antenna that is consistent with those two calls having been made and received while the phone was in Leakin Park. This is reliable evidence that the cell phone actually was in Leakin Park at the time of those two calls — because although tower records are not 100% reliable for identifying a cell phone’s location, the failure of any other calls on January 12th and January 13th to have routed through L653A make it exceedingly unlikely that it was nothing more than a freak coincidence for those two calls to have gone through that tower even though the phone was physically located somewhere else.

Which means that the cell phones are really excellent evidence for demonstrating that Adnan’s cell phone was in Leakin Park when Hae was buried there. This creates an extremely strong inference that the reason the phone was in Leakin Park at that time is because whoever was burying Hae brought the phone with them.

But the problem for the prosecution is that we already know the identity of someone who brought Adnan’s cell phone into Leakin Park in order to bury Hae’s body: Jay. We know exactly why the phone was pinging off the Leakin Park towers that night, because Jay’s statements show that the phone came with him when he went there to bury Hae.

So there isn’t some great mystery to be solved here. We are not left with trying to figure out how Adnan’s cell phone could have magically transported itself across town and into Leakin Park at the precise time that Hae was being buried. We already know how that happened. The only question is whether or not Adnan was also with Jay at the time.

But the prosecution does not have any evidence to support this second inferential leap. What the prosecution does not have, and what the cell phone records cannot provide, is evidence that someone other than Jay was with the cell phone in Leakin Park that night. All the calls made from Leakin Park (as well as the calls immediately before and after those calls) were made to Jenn’s pager, a number which all parties agree that Adnan would never have called.

And how could Jay have possibly had Adnan’s phone if Adnan was not also at Leakin Park with him? I mean, without some kind of evidence to suggest that Adnan would be likely let Jay borrow his cell phone when he was busy attending some kind of event, there would be no obvious reason that Jay could have Adnan’s cell phone without being with Adnan.

Except the prosecution’s undisputed evidence shows that, for at least five hours on January 13th, Jay did borrow Adnan’s car and cell phone, while he went off somewhere without Adnan. Jay’s own testimony acknowledges that he had borrowed Adnan’s cell phone from 12 to 3:45 pm, and again from about 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. And if Jay was borrowing Adnan’s cell phone from 12:00 to 3:45 p.m. — while Adnan was in class —  and from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. — while Adnan was at track practice — isn’t it reasonable to assume that Jay was also borrowing it from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., while Adnan was at the mosque?

At trial, the prosecution had no evidence, other than Jay’s own self-serving testimony, that Jay had not borrowed Adnan’s phone once again that evening. Which meant that the prosecution’s entire case relied on convincing the jury that it was completely ridiculous and unreasonable to think that Adnan might have let Jay borrow his phone for a couple hours on January 13th — despite the fact that exact scenario had indisputably occurred at least once that day, and at least twice according to Jay. How can you show beyond a reasonable doubt that Jay had not borrowed Adnan’s cell phone from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., when Adnan had let Jay borrow his cell phone every other time that Adnan was busy attending some event?

To be fair to the prosecution, its ability to disprove that Jay had borrowed Adnan’s cell phone that day was limited by pesky rules such as the Fifth Amendment.6  But Serial listeners are not so limited in the available evidence — and since Adnan has spoken on the podcast about what he remembers about what happened on January 13, 1999, we can consider those statements now in evaluating the evidence.

And Adnan’s story is pretty straight-forward. According to Adnan,

he’s pretty sure he was with his phone at that time after track. Again, his memory is vague, it’s full of I probably would haves. But he says that from what he can remember of the evening, after he got the call from Office Adcock, he remembers dropping Jay off at some point and then he says he would have gone to the mosque for prayers. It was Ramadan. He doesn’t say he lent his phone out or his car to Jay or anyone else that evening. (Episode 5.)

Which means that we do not have any testimonial evidence from Adnan demonstrating that Jay was borrowing Adnan’s cell phone. But Adnan’s statement is not itself persuasive evidence that Jay was not borrowing the cell phone, because it is wholly consistent with everything else Adnan has said about that day, which is that by the time he was asked about it six weeks later, he just did not remember what all went on. (Actually, if Adnan had a specific memory of loaning his phone out to Jay, but no specific memories of anything else that occurred that evening, that in itself would be highly suspicious, or at least not particularly credible. Adnan remembering nothing about that evening is plausible — Adnan selectively remembering a single exculpatory detail and nothing else is much less so.)

And Adnan’s statement is also consistent with his innocence in another major respect. If Adnan is a murderer who is willing to lie about everything he did that day, we would expect him to further lie about having the cell phone in his possession at the time that the pings show it was in Leakin Park. Him telling the truth about having the cell phone that evening is not consistent with the statements we would expect if in fact he were guilty. Remember, this is not a case in which Adnan gave a statement, only to later be contradicted by his cell phone records — because Adnan’s statement concerning his belief that he had his phone that night was made years after his trial, and with full knowledge of what the cell records show about Leakin Park.

As it turns out, though, we do have statements from another witness that provide circumstantial evidence that Jay borrowed Adnan’s cell phone at 7:00 p.m. on January 13th, while Adnan was at mosque. Because Jenn’s statements to the police strongly suggest just that. She told the police, during her interview, that on the night of Hae’s disappearance,

I believe that I got a voice message from Jay like um telling me to get him from the park and around, between seven and seven-thirty I think it was (Jenn Int. at 12).

The park Jenn identifies is located “off of Crosby and Chesworth,” but is not “the one that the pool’s on” (id.). The only park that fits this description is Western Hills Community Park, which is directly across the street from Adnan’s mosque, and only a three minute walk away from Adnan’s mosque if you cut through the back yard. 

To put this information into context, here are two facts to remember: (1) Jay and Adnan had left Cathy’s at around 6:30 p.m.; (2) Jay and Jenn had plans to hang out at Cathy’s house at 7:00 p.m. So if Jay was supposed to meet Jenn at Cathy’s at 7:00 p.m., why does he leave Cathy’s at 6:30 p.m. and call Jenn with instructions to pick him up from next to Adnan’s mosque at 7:00 p.m.? Jay obviously knew, somehow, that he was going to be dropped off near Adnan’s mosque at around that time, and be left without a car he could use to transport himself, but why would Adnan think such a thing?

Jenn also tells the police that after receiving an initial message from Jay about picking him up from Western Hills Community Park, she received a second message from Jay, sometime between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., this time telling her to disregard his earlier instructions to pick him up at Western Hills Community Park. (Based on the cell records, it is a really good guess that the page Jenn is talking about is the same as the 7:00 p.m. call from Adnan’s phone to Jenn’s pager that shows up on the cell records.) Jenn states that

[Jay’s] message sa[id], “I’m going to be late don’t pick” you know “don’t pick me up at the park” or “I’ll call you when I need you” or something (Jenn Int. at 12).

So why would Jay initially tell Jenn that he needed her to give him a ride from Adnan’s mosque at 7:00 p.m., but then call her back at 7:00 p.m. to tell her to ignore the initial plan and that he would contact her later to let her know where to pick him up? One obvious explanation is that Jay had believed Adnan was going to drop him off at 7:00 when he went to mosque, which would have left Jay stranded and without a car. But then something changed, and he no longer needed Jenn to pick him up — indicating that he had figured out some other way of getting a ride.  And why might that be? If anyone else has any alternative explanations for this series of events, please share them, but here is one obvious explanation that fits well with the known facts: the reason Jay let Jenn know he was no longer going to need a ride from Adnan’s mosque is because Jay was able to borrow Adnan’s car (with the cell phone in the glove compartment, like Jay has previously described).5 I am unable to think up any other reason that could explain both Jay’s requested locale for a pick-up and the sudden change in plans, and it seems unquestionably significant that the original rendezvous point for Jenn and Jay was immediately next to the place Adnan says he was that night.

(7) Adnan Does Not Clearly Remember What Happened on January 13, 1999.

Adnan’s story about where he was and what he did on January 13, 1999 is straight-forward. Although he did not testify at his trial, one of his police statements was introduced into evidence, and is summarized as follows:

[Adnan] told the police that he and Hae used to date. He said that on January 13, 1999, a Wednesday, he had class with Hae from 12:50 to 2:15 p.m. Appellant said he went to track practice that afternoon. He did not see Hae the next two days at school, Thursday and Friday, because the school was closed for inclement weather. (Brief of Appellant at 5.)

Adnan also gave another police statement on February 26th, which the police notes summarized as follows:

On 13 January 1999, he had the occasion to be at school (Woodlawn Senior High), however doesn’t remember the events that occurred in school that day.
When asked if Syed had a relationship with Hae Min Lee, Syed replied in a soft voice “yes”, however he didn’t want his father to know.
Syed indicated that he had occasions to be a passenger in the victim’s auto, however not on the date in question.
Syed stated that he had no idea who would want to have hurt Hae Min Lee and that he could provide no information on suspects.

There is something extremely odd about this summary of Adnan’s interview, however. It should probably not be relied upon it to establish what Adnan actually said to the police on the date in question, because, as mentioned in Episode 9, the written summary of Adnan’s statement is dated September 14, 1999. There is no apparent explanation for why the detectives waited seven months before preparing their notes from the interview.

As discussed frequently on the podcast (and in discussions about the podcast), one of the common arguments for why Adnan is guilty is due to that fact that he does not have a clear and concise memory of the events that occurred on January 13, 1999 is evidence of his guilt. Koenig herself expresses frustration at Adnan’s vague memories, which are not so much memories as they are descriptions of what Adnan assumes he would have been doing on that night, based on what he can remember from that time period.

But to call that evidence of Adnan’s guilt is to misunderstand how memories work. Adnan’s memories of January 13, 1999, are utterly typical of how someone would try and describe a mostly average day that had occurred six weeks previously — and for evidence of this, take a look at Jenn’s testimony:

Jenn: I don’t know what time I came in that evening, probably pretty late, I usually come in pretty late, between twelve whatever, and than um the next day inaudible, I’m not sure what inaudible I’m assuming the next day I would have, the 14th I would have went to work, do my normal routine again um unless it was a Saturday or Sunday and than um I ah I I went and saw Jay later, sometime the next day on the 14th I saw Jay and he asked me to take him to take him to F & M parking lot or F & M, he had to go to F & M. (Jenn Int. at 4.)

So when asked to remember what happened six weeks ago on the day that she learned that Adnan had murdered Hae, and had helped Jay to dispose of evidence of the crime – an event that should have been a pretty significant one in anyone’s life – Jenn is nevertheless unable to recall even what time she would have gotten home that night, other than that it was “probably pretty late,” because she “usually come[s] in pretty late.” And when Jenn is asked about the phone calls made from Adnan’s cell phone to her house on the day of Hae’s murder, the only reason Jenn is able to remember that the calls were made on January 13th is because the detectives had specifically informed her of that fact:

Jenn: Well the only reason I know that is because last night um when I was being questioned or whatever you want to call it, um ah the question asked was  had Adnan called my house on the 13th, um I remember the incident that Adnan had killed Hae and I remember that I had talked to Jay that day and Jay had been at my house. Adnan has never called my house before to the best of my recollection, um, not that I would remember, he never called my house and ah so the only time that he would called the house would have been on the 13th like I believe I said that I had those phone calls come to my house.
Detective: So you’re saying that you’re sure it’s the 13th, because we told you you had these telephone calls on the 13th?
Jenn: Right.
Detective: Not because it’s the day after, his birthday or
Jenn: Right. I don’t, I wouldn’t remember inaudible. (Jenn Int. at 25.)

A lot of Jenn’s memories about January 13th are described in this fashion, based on bits and pieces she actually recalls, supplemented with her knowledge of what she assumes she would have been doing:

Jenn: I got a page and usually when  get pages or things like that I go back to my room and use the phone just ’cause that’s where I feel comfortable and um that’s when I got the page that was a voice (Jenn Int. at 13.)

Jenn: He says um I said and we talked probably talked a little bit more about Hae and everything that happened and I might have asked him you know again what his involvement was, if he knew where the bodv was . (Jenn Int. at 19.)

Jenn: Um and then when I woke up the next morning I guess I went through my normal six-thirty to till nine routine, taking everybody to work, myself getting to work and I think I probably went to work the next day as long as it wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday (Jenn Int. at 23.)

Need more proof? Here is Stephanie’s police statement:

January 13, 1999 was a normal school day for Steph although it was her birthday. . . She could not remember anything out of the ordinary from first period. Second period was English class which she had with Hae and Adnan. She remembered Adnan bringing her a stuffed reindeer. [Stephanie] could not remember anything about Hae during second period. Lunch was at approximately 10:40 a.m. She believes Adnan was at lunch but she could not be certain. . . .

[Stephanie] advised that Friday, January 15th, they had a big snowball fight at her house. The following persons were present: Adnan [and redacted names]. [Stephanie] was then advised by her mother that the snowball fight was possibly the following week. This was remembered because on Thursday the 14th and into early the 15th, the power was out due to a power failure. (Stephanie’s Police Statement.)

Again, we have memories of what “probably” happened, or descriptions of when she “believe[d]” to have seen Adnan, but only a few details are actually remembered for certainty. The rest is based on what she normally did on Wednesdays. And, when trying to remember something like a snowball fight that occurred two days after Hae’s disappearance, she completely screws up the dates of when it happened — because while she remembered the specific event, when there is no additional context (such as the power outage) to logically orient the memory in time, trying to link the memory with the specific day it occurred is difficult or impossible to do.

Which means that Adnan’s memories of the day Hae went missing are consistent in every way with the memories we would expect someone to have of a normal day that occurred six weeks before. Yes, it is frustrating for us that Adnan lacks the memories that could potentially help us figure out what happened on the day Hae disappeared — but it’s not even the tiniest fraction of how frustrating it must be for Adnan.

(8) Adnan’s Lack of Alibi.

Another common argument for why Adnan must be guilty is his lack of a conclusively established alibi for the afternoon and evening of January 13th.

Before discussing the merits of this argument, it should first be clarified, however, that the very premise of it is based on a distortion of the factual record. Adnan does have alibi witnesses — it is just that these witnesses’ memories are fuzzy and unclear on the specifics of what happened on what particular days (for the exact same reasons that Adnan’s own memories of that day are fuzzy and unclear). Asia remembers seeing Adnan in the library at 2:30 p.m.; Adnan’s track coach does not remember Adnan being absent from track practice; Jay remembers Adnan’s teammate Will seeing Adnan at track practice; and Adnan’s father remembers seeing Adnan at mosque that evening. So the issue is not that Adnan lacks an alibi. The issue is that Adnan lacks an alibi that the alibi witnesses can conclusively prove, when they were asked to do so 6+ weeks later.

But let’s assume for the moment that there were not any alibi witnesses. No one specifically remembers seeing Adnan at any particular time that day, and no one specifically remembers him being absent, either. (Which is pretty much exactly what we would expect from alibi witnesses who have been asked to recall whether a specific person was present at a function or event on a particular day, when that person’s presence at said function or event was a regular and ongoing occurrence.) Would that do anything to prove that Adnan is responsible for Hae’s murder? No, it would not — because without additional context, the fact that a suspect lacks an alibi cannot tell us anything about whether that is evidence of the suspect’s guilt.

Here’s an example. Let’s pretend we could run an experiment where we attempted to verify a solid alibi for Adnan for every weekday afternoon, six weeks after that date. If we found out, after running this experiment, that we were unable to find conclusive alibi witnesses for 99% of those afternoons, then the fact that Adnan had no alibi on January 13th tells us nothing whatsoever. It simply is not evidence of Adnan’s guilt, because we would expect to find that exact same result regardless of whether he is guilty or innocent. Conversely, if we discovered, after running the experiment that, that Adnan could establish a solid alibi under those same circumstances 99% of the time, then the fact Adnan was unable to establish an alibi for January 13 would become a very significant data point.

Obviously, in real life, the odds that Adnan could establish an alibi for any given day, when asked to do so six weeks later, are going to be something less than 99% and something greater than 1%. But where exactly in that range would it fall? Although we are obviously working with an incomplete evidentiary record, the evidence we do have strongly suggests that it was actually pretty likely Adnan would be unable to come up with an alibi for that time period. We know that he had approximately an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and forty-five minutes to kill before track; we also know that if he lacks an alibi for any 42 minute period during that time, he could theoretically have time to have killed Hae and made it back to Woodlawn (assuming 21 minutes each way to Best Buy — a generous assumption). Since Adnan’s alibi would have been other students he randomly encountered at the library or around school, and since track practice did not actually take attendance, the odds that Adnan would lack an alibi witness who could conclusively prove that he or she saw him on any particular day seem to be pretty likely — and the odds are even higher that, even if he did have an alibi witness, it would still be insufficient to cover the entire 1 to 2 hour window in which we know Hae was killed.

Which means that, as far as the evidence can show us, Adnan’s lack of an alibi does not give us any reason to believe that he was more likely to have been responsible for Hae’s murder.

In any event, Adnan’s lack of an alibi is also of less evidentiary significance in this case because of the arbitrary and adaptable nature of the prosecution’s timeline. There is no “fixed” time for when Hae was killed — the timeline the prosecution went with at trial was chosen specifically because it was the one that best fit the evidence. And since the prosecution was able to pick and choose its timelines based on what is most consistent with its case, the prosecution had the power to render any alibi Adnan did have completely insignificant, simply by adjusting its timeline to put Hae’s death at a different time. If Adnan had been able to present a perfect alibi for where he was at 2:36 p.m., the prosecution would have just shrugged its shoulders and decided that Hae was really killed at 3:45 p.m., like Jay said.

(9) Adnan’s Fingerprints Were Found in Hae’s car.

This evidence is particularly insignificant, but I have included it simply because the show made a point of doing so:

Police recovered a page torn from a map in the rear seat of the victim’s, Hae Lee, vehicle. The page included the map area of Leakin Park, the location where Lee’s body was found. [Adnan’s] fingerprint was found on an identification card in the glove compartment of the car. [Adnan’s] palm print was found on the back cover of the map recovered from the car. [Adnan’s] fingerprints were also found on floral paper recovered from the back seat of the car. (Appellee’s Brief at 2.)

Why is it insignificant? Let’s assume for a moment that Adnan did kill Hae. Are the fingerprints found in Hae’s car evidence to prove that?

No, because it is undisputed that he was in her car on numerous occasions while they were dating, and that he was also in her car at least one time in January before Hae’s murder, when her car broke down and he went to help her figure out whether they could get is started again. So even if everything about the prosecution’s theory is 100% correct, which is more likely: (1) that the finger prints found in Hae’s car came from one of the many days that he was in her car while she was alive, or (2) that the finger prints found in Hae’s car came from the single day he was in her car after she was dead?

Obviously it’s the former. And this conclusion is further supported by the fact that none of the prints found were consistent with Adnan having been in the driver’s seat when he left them.

(10) The “I’m Going to Kill” Note.

The “I’m going to kill” note was found in Adnan’s house, following a search by the police.  The note was written on the back of a letter that Hae had written to Adnan (see below for more on the Hae letter). Adnan had shown the letter to Hae’s best friend, Aisha, while the two of them were in health class together, watching a presentation on pregnancy, and Adnan and Aisha had then used the back side of Hae’s letter to exchange notes. At the very top of the note, written in Adnan’s pen, is the phrase “I’m going to kill.” Aisha testified at trial that the note had been written sometime in early November of 1998,  and that the phrase “I’m going to kill” was written in Adnan’s handwriting (Appellant’s Brief at App 24-25). Aisha also stated, however, that “I’m going to kill” message had not been written on the page when she and Adnan were exchanging the letter back and forth in health class (Episode 6).

The prosecution introduced the note as evidence of Adnan’s homicidal intent. That is an awful lot of weight for one short note to carry, though, when the only thing we know about the note is that it was scribbled out by a high school student goofing off during class. Especially when the subject of the message is not even identified. In order for this to be evidence of Adnan’s guilt, the prosecution had to ask the jury to make two big assumptions, neither of which were supported by any additional evidence. First, the jury had to assume that Adnan had intended the message to be about Hae. Second, the jury had to assume that this note — unlike the overwhelming majority of all notes written by high school students which convey similar sentiments — was an expression of genuine murderous intent, rather than an expression of high teenage angst.

The first assumption is not an unreasonable one, but it is also only one of many possibilities. Because in the context of a note passed in class between two high school students, the phrase “I’m going to kill” can have any number of meanings: “I’m going to kill the teacher for assigning so much homework,” “I’m going to kill that student for reminding the teacher to assign homework,” “I’m going to kill myself,” “I’m going to kill him if he doesn’t shut up.” For example, the following comes from Hae’s diary, discussing her relationship with Adnan:

“I’ll probably kill myself if I lose him but I’ll go crazy with things complicating. I wish he’ll [sic] call back soon” (Appellant’s Brief at 56).

So even if we’re going to assume that Adnan’s note was about his relationship with Hae, the note could just as easily be read as an overdramatic declaration that he could not live without her. Just like Hae had written.

As a result, I find the “I’m going to kill” note to be one of the more dubious pieces of the prosecution’s case, because it could be used to prove so much. It could work as evidence of Adnan’s guilt for any murder that he had some sort of connection to the victim. What if, for example, Aisha had been the one to be murdered? Or Don? Or Nisha?  If the police had then received an anonymous call saying that Adnan was involved in their deaths, and if they had found this note in Adnan’s house following a search, the prosecution could have introduced it as evidence of Adnan’s guilt for any of their deaths. It’s creepy ambiguousness lets it fit whatever narrative the prosecution wants to present.

But let’s assume that we have a crystal ball which could show us, as established fact, that Adnan had been writing “I am going to kill Hae,” but that he was interrupted by the bell and the note was put away unfinished. If that were the case, how useful would the note be as evidence that Adnan had an intent to commit murder?

The prosecution can definitely get some mileage out of it by arguing it shows that it shows Adnan had a creepy and possessive side. That is a pretty effective tactic, because rebutting a charge of being “creepy and possessive” is pretty hard to do. But without some sort of context that establishes a connection between the note and Hae’s actual murder, it is unreasonable to conclude that the note is actually evidence of Adnan plotting out a homicide. Because how often do people who have no homicidal intent write or say things like, “I’m gonna kill him for this,” or “I will kill her if she doesn’t stop doing that right now”? Well, if a search through my own personal gchat and e-mail history can provide an example, the answer would seem to be “fairly often.” And I don’t think it is an unreasonable guess that high school students say such or write such things at a higher frequency than the general population.

Adnan is just lucky he did not keep a diary like Hae had. Otherwise, just imagine the amount of teenage angst they could have pulled out of it to show that Adnan was a murderer in the making.

I do wish we had more evidence to go on, though, about the nature of the “I’m going to kill” message. The note could potentially be significant if we could show, for example, the context in which it had been written, or how it had been kept, or whether anything remotely similar was found in the rest of his notes. But right now, we do not have any of that. All we know is that the cops found it in Adnan’s house. There is no indication that it was found any place significant — for instance, the cops do not seem to have found it in a pile of letters about Hae, or in a notebook which made other references to any plan to commit murder, or anywhere else that might help show whether the note has any deeper meaning. Moreover, even though the cops went through however many hundreds of pages of notes and letters found in Adnan’s room, the only thing they could find to provide any support for their case was a single four sentence message scrawled out inexplicably on a note that he had been passing in health class. What were in the rest of Adnan’s notes? Was the “I’m going to kill” note unique or unusual compared to the rest of his documents, or did his notes tend to have lots of odd scribbles like this?

If anything, the surprising fact is that the investigators were unable to find anything else of significance in Adnan’s possession — after all, following the breakup of a high school romance, the odds are really high that at least one of the partners will have, somewhere in their possession, some kind of note/letter/e-mail/card expressing some sort of anger or hostility towards their former partner.

(11) Adnan’s Failure to Contact Hae.

In Episode 6, Koenig discusses another argument that has been raised as evidence of Adnan’s guilt:

If you look at [Adnan’s] cell records from that day forward, neither Hae’s home number nor her pager shows up again, which suggests he never tried to contact her after she went missing. They were supposedly such good friends. Hae’s friend Aisha said that she was paging her like crazy.

Koenig: Did you ever try to page her and just be like, you know, see if you could find her, raise her, see if you could get a response from her?

Adnan: Well, I know that we would always, I-I can’t remember if I did page her or not but, we would always talk about it at school. I would always like get my information first hand from like Aisha who would usually be in contact with obvi-, if I can remember she was like in contact with Hae’s family. So it was kind of like I would always, if not Aisha or Krista or or or it I mean  it wasn’t like I was just sittin’ around, like not even thinking about her. You know, not paging her or whatever, but I used to always get my information from them first hand, you know, it-it’s not it- I don’t remember if I ever paged her or not.

And this seems to be a pretty popular explanation for why Adnan must be guilty. The idea is that Adnan’s would have paged Hae if he thought she was missing, so therefore his inaction is proof of his guilt.

But the claim that “Adnan never tried to contact Hae” is based on an empty factual record. We don’t know if Adnan ever tried to page Hae, because we don’t know who paged Hae at all. For all we know, Adnan very well could have paged her, only from any phone other than his cell phone.

It isn’t as if this evidence would have been particularly difficult to obtain. If subpoenaing Hae’s pager records would have been able to show that Adnan never paged her from another line, why didn’t the investigators do that? Hae’s pager records would have been invaluable evidence for so many aspects of this case, not just for the question of whether Adnan tried to contact her after her death — so why don’t we have any records suggesting that the prosecution ever did try to pull them? Have they simply not been made public yet?

All we know right now is that Adnan never once called Hae’s pager from his cell phone after her death.  (Actually, it does not appear that he ever called her pager from his cell phone before her death, either. It looks like all of his calls from his cell phone were to her home’s landline.) But why is that surprising? He had only gotten the cell phone the day before — although Hae had written Adnan’s cell number down, it is extremely unlikely she would have had it memorized. So seeing a page come up from Adnan’s cell phone would have been meaningless to her — it would make sense if Adnan had tried to page her from his home number instead, since she would actually be able to identify that one as coming from Adnan. But if Hae really had run away, it seems improbable she would have responded to a page from an unfamiliar number, from someone she does not apparently know.

But let’s assume again that the prosecution has the evidence they think they do, and that we could conclusively prove that Adnan never once paged Hae. What does that prove? Well, about as much as evidence that Adnan had page Hae would prove. Because proof that Adnan had paged Hae would not be evidence of his innocence. A guilty person would have a specific reason to be concerned about appearances, and think,  “Oh, I must be able to show I have no idea Hae is dead, what can I do to maintain that appearance?” An innocent person, of course, would never think of that.

And the assumption that Adnan would certainly have paged Hae if he had not killed her is based on another mistaken factual assumption: that anyone had realized she was missing or not responding to pages. From Stephanie’s statement, we know the following:

[Stephanie] advised that Aisha [ ] first mentioned that Hae was missing on Wednesday or Thursday of the following week. [Stephanie] did not realize Hae was missing until Wednesday of the following week. She was advised that Hae had run away. . . . [Stephanie] was quick to point out that none of Hae’s best friends were initially worried about Hae’ disappearance. She advised that Hae’s best friends were Debbie [ ] and Aisha [ ]. [Stephanie] advised that a lot of time elapsed before anyone did anything about her disappearance. (Stephanie’s Police Statement.)

So if even Hae’s best friends were not concerned until a full week after she went missing, why is it odd that Adnan was similarly unconcerned? And once it did come out that something was wrong, how many people actually attempted to page her at that point? They all know that she is not at home, and they all know that she stopped responding to pages, so what evidentiary significance is to be had from the fact that any particular person failed to send her even more pages?

But even aside from the factual context, the very premise of the state’s argument on this point is flawed. Why is it reasonable to assume that a person who fails to page a missing friend after they go missing is evidence that the person is the murderer? It seems like such an approach would identify more suspects than it would exclude. Trying to determine someone’s guilt or innocence based on their post-crime reactions is based on unreasonable assumptions about human psychology, and how predictable such reactions are.

This is the kind of “evidence” that has no real predictive value, but has the benefit of being impossible for a defendant to effectively rebut. Each of their post-crime actions are dissected, and any perceived aberration from a “normal” reaction is seized upon as proof of guilt. Remember, the prosecution did not just argue that Adnan was guilty based on evidence that supposedly showed he was callous and unconcerned. The prosecution also argued he was guilty based on evidence that he was too concerned and too distraught, such as through the testimony of the school nurse who though Adnan was ‘faking a catatonic state.’

But innocent people don’t make an effort to react or to grieve in carefully calculated amounts, so that they avoid running too hot or too cold in their reactions. Innocent people react to dramatic and traumatic events in wildly disparate ways. Trying to read Adnan’s post-disappearance reactions to determine whether he had any involvement in her death is as effective as trying to read tea leaves.

(12) Hae’s Diary (Should Not Have Been Admissible at Adnan’s Trial).

Hae’s personal diary was admitted into evidence at Adnan’s trial, with selected excerpts read into the record. It is about as boring as you would expect. Like Koenig said, it is “such a teenage girl’s diary.” And while it shows that there was some drama in Hae and Adnan’s relationship, there is nothing in it to suggest that Hae feared Adnan in any way. The opposite, in fact — when talking about Adnan, she says that, “I feel secure and comfy with him.”

But boring or not, the diary never should have come into evidence at Adnan’s trial. As discussed in greater detail at the EvidenceProf Blog,

in a case in which a defendant is on trial for murdering the victim, entries in the victim’s diary regarding her state of mind have no relevance to any issue at trial and are thus inadmissible.

But since it was admitted, over defense counsel’s improperly preserved objections, does it show any evidentiary support for the prosecution’s case? Well, it at least provides evidence that Adnan and Hae had been in a romantic relationship, and had broken up several weeks before the murder, which is significant for purposes of bolstering the prosecution’s motive theory.

But beyond that, there is nothing in it to suggest that Adnan and Hae’s relationship was anything other than the usual mundane high school fare. There is no evidence that Adnan was abusive, or violent, or potentially homicidal. Certainly no one who read Hae’s diary without knowledge of her fate would have concluded that she was at risk of being killed by Adnan. Other than allowing the prosecution to invite the jury to speculate about whether Hae’s diary was somehow suggestive that Adnan had a dark and dangerous character, it does not suggest that Adnan was more likely to be homicidal than any other teenage boy in a hot and cold relationship.

(13) Hae’s Note (Should Not Have Been Admissible at Adnan’s Trial).

Hae’s note is the note written on the other side of the page that Aisha and Adnan passed back in forth in health class, and which had the “I’m going to kill” written on it. It says, in part,

I’m really getting annoyed that this situation is going the way it is . . . Your life is NOT going to end. You’ll move on and I’ll move on. But, apparently, you don’t respect my decision . . . I NEVER wanted to end this like this, so hostile and cold . . . Hate me if you will. But you should remember that I could never hate you.

And while it was admitted into evidence at Adnan’s trial, once again, as discussed in greater detail at the EvidenceProf Blog, this was evidence that “should have been deemed inadmissible.”

In any event, its evidentiary significance is limited. The amount of relevance that it has for Adnan’s case probably depends, more than anything, on the reader’s beliefs as to what notes written by high school students typically look like. But as far as high school relationship drama goes, this is pretty tame stuff. It does show that Adnan and Hae were still having drama in November 1999, so to that extent it is more relevant than the diary, but again, there is nothing in it that would have suggested Adnan was more prone to homicidal rage than any other high school student after a breakup.

(14) Jenn’s Testimony (Should Not Have Been Admissible at Adnan’s Trial).

At trial, Jenn was, for some undisclosed reason, permitted to testify about Jay’s hearsay statements concerning Adnan’s involvement in Hae’s murder. She testified that after Jay messaged her at around 8 p.m. on the night of Hae’s disappearance, she went to Westview to pick him up. Jenn arrived there first. She said that, when Jay and Adnan arrived, approximately 15 minutes later, “[Adnan] was . . . driving, and said hello to [Jenn]. [Jay] got in her car and said . . . ‘[Adnan] strangled Hae in the Best Buy parking lot. [I] saw her body in the trunk.’ . . . [Adnan] used [Jay’s] shovels to bury her and [Jay] wanted to make sure there were no fingerprints on them.” (Brief of Appellant at 13.)

The significance of this evidence depends on the credibility of Jay’s testimony, since he was the only source of Jenn’s information, so there is not much to re-hash here. But it is also worth noting that it was hearsay evidence that lacked any apparent basis for its admission under any exception to the hearsay rule.

Review of the Prosecution’s Case

So that’s the entirety of the prosecution’s case again Adnan, plus a bit more evidence that was either inadmissible or unknown at the time of his trial. Based on everything we know now, is there any way to reconcile the state’s evidence with Adnan’s innocence? How convoluted or improbable would such a factual scenario need to be, in order to account for both?

As it turns out, not convoluted or improbable at all. In order to explain the state’s evidence, only the following four events needed to have occurred: (1) Adnan’s ex-girlfriend was the victim of a homicide; (2) her murder was later covered up by Jay, an individual whom both Hae and Adnan knew; (3) Jay had often borrowed Adnan’s car and phone, and had had done so on the day of Hae’s death; and (4) on the afternoon that Hae was killed, while Jay was in possession of Adnan’s phone, Jay butt dialed a number that was saved on speed dial, but the call went unanswered on the other end.

That’s it. There doesn’t need to have been some series of statistically unlikely coincidences, or some overly complicated conspiracy theory. All that needed to happen was that Adnan let Jay borrow his phone, and that Jay later assisted in the cover-up of the murder of Adnan’s ex-girlfriend. And the fact that the same person Adnan let borrow his phone also turned out to be the same person who helped cover up his ex-girlfriend’s murder was not itself some bizarre or unlikely coincidence, it was just a result of the existing relationships between all the people involved.

Because the central nexus that links all of the relevant players in this case isn’t Adnan — it’s Woodlawn High School. Jay and Hae were connected to one another independent of their respective connections to Adnan. They had attended the same high school, sat next to each other in biology class, and knew the same people. Jay’s girlfriend, Stephanie, was one of Hae’s good friends — and in fact, Stephanie, Aisha, and Adnan were all together at Aisha’s house on the day that they learned of Hae’s death. There was even something of a mild love triangle (love quadrilateral?) going on between Stephanie, Adnan, Hae, and Jay. As one of Hae and Stephanie’s mutual friends, Debbie, testified at Adnan’s trial, “Stephanie [had] confided to Debbie that she was interested in [Adnan]. At the [Woodlawn High School] prom in 1998, when [Adnan] was voted prom king and Stephanie was prom queen, they danced. [Adnan], however, left Stephanie during the dance and went to get Hae to finish the dance with him.” (Brief of Appellant at 14.)

So the prosecution’s assumption that Jay could only have been involved in Hae’s murder if Adnan were also involved isn’t supported by the evidence. Because the prosecution’s whole theory of the case is that Adnan chose Jay to be his accomplice for Hae’s murder due to Jay’s status as “the criminal element of Woodlawn” — but wouldn’t that exact same rationale apply to everyone else at Woodlawn, too? If Jay is the kind of person that Woodlawn students are likely call when they need help burying a body, then why are we assuming it must have been Adnan who made the call that day, rather than any other Woodlawn student?

Actually, in addition to the four events listed above, there is a fifth event that must also have occurred in order for Adnan to be innocent. The investigators who prepared the case against Adnan must have provided Jay (whether intentionally or unintentionally) with assistance in crafting a story that both implicated Adnan in Hae’s murder, and also fit the rest of the known evidence. Because if Jay had been required to stick to the story he gave in his initial interview, Adnan could never have been convicted. It was only after Jay’s story had a chance to be crafted over the course of three more interviews and a mistrial that Jay was able to tell a story that was even passingly consistent with Adnan’s cell records. Because Jay’s story completely changed once the detectives informed him his story could not be true — or rather, as Detective MacGillivary tried to claim, “[o]nce [the detectives] confronted [Jay] with the cell phone records, [he]’remembered things a lot better.'”

But regardless of whether this sort of coaching by the detectives was likely or unlikely to occur, the transcripts from Jay’s interviews show that something like that did indeed occur here.

And other than those five events outlined above — Hae’s murder, Jay’s involvement in the cover-up, Jay borrowing Adnan’s phone, and the detectives coaching Jay’s story — there is nothing in the prosecution’s case that requires explanation. Because everything else that the prosecution had against Adnan wasn’t evidence that he was involved in Hae’s murder, it was just an assorted collection of facts that the prosecution used to spin together a compelling story at trial.

The diary, the notes, the statements from Hae’s and Adnan’s friends; the details of these individual bits of evidence don’t matter. The pieces themselves are interchangeable, so long as the prosecution has enough to prop up its narrative of a cold and vengeful ex-boyfriend determined to eliminate the stain upon his honor. Adnan and Hae were a high school couple that had just broken up after an off-and-on relationship — it was all but certain that the prosecution was going to be able to find something it could use to support the claim that Adnan had been upset about the breakup. If you took any high school couple that had just broken up from a serious relationship (that is, “serious” by high school standards), and then searched their residences and interviewed their friends, the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that you would find the following:

  • Some kind of note, diary, or journal indicating that one of two students felt upset, gloomy, unhappy, depressed, or furious about the break-up;
  • Phone calls and other communications that were sent and received between the couple, both before and after the break-up;
  • Friends who will express a negative opinion about how one or both students behaved while they were in the relationship; and,
  • Friends who will describe how one or both students were distraught or expressed negative emotions about the break-up.

Which is what the prosecution did here. Out of the thousands of chance conversations, events, writings, or occurrences that went on in Hae’s and Adnan’s lives, all the prosecution needed to find was a handful of instances that it could pick out and use to build a narrative that Adnan had been so “distraught” and “vengeful” about the breakup that he killed Hae.

By using anecdotes about how Adnan reacted the “wrong way” to the news of Hae’s death and disappearance, or about how Adnan was upset about Hae ending their relationship, the prosecution was able to convince the jury that Adnan was the kind of person who “just wanted control,” and who “felt betrayed [when] his honor had been besmirched” (Episode 10). And by using racial stereotypes, the prosecution was likewise able to convince the jury that Adnan came from a “culture[] [where] women are second class citizens” and where “men rule, not women” (id.). And once you conclude that Adnan is the kind of person who would commit a murder in order to repair a stain upon his honor, it is not difficult to conclude that, despite the complete lack of any physical evidence tying him to the crime, he must have been the one to murder Hae.


FN*. [Edit: Yes, I am in fact aware that this is not how statistics actually work. That’s what the “/s” signifies.]

FN1. Jenn also tells the police that Jay told her the reason he had Adnan’s car was to buy Stephanie a birthday present. She is, however, a little contradictory concerning when Jay told her this. She initially states that:

Jenn: [Jay] he said “I need to tell somebody”, he’s like “I’m the only person that knows and I need to tell somebody. ” And then the information that he told me was that Adnan had killed Hae and I was like in complete shock at this point, not knowing you know what to do or what to say or anything…  I questioned Jay about his involvement and Jay told me that he had no involvement. All he had done all day with Adnan’s car was, he needed the car ’cause it was his girlfriend’s birthday, to go get her a birthday present. That’s why he had Adnan’s car, well, that’s what he told me, Adnan’s car was to get his girlfriend a birthday present. (Jenn Int. at 2.)

Jenn later clarifies, however, that Jay only told her this information the night before, after her first police interview and before her second:

Jenn: Jay told me like last night that it was Adnan’s car that he was in… that he brought to my house ’cause he wanted to know if I told you all about last night and um he said well then he didn’t even want… he was like, “well the only reason I had his car was because I wanted,” that’s when I found out that he had the car to go get his girlfriend a birthday present. (Jenn Int. at 7.)

It is interesting that Jay apparently told Jenn that the reason he borrowed Adnan’s car was because he wanted to do so.

FN2. Notably, at the time of Jay’s first interview, Adnan’s phone call with Officer Adcock was the only phone call that Jay remembered Adnan making or receiving from his cell phone. In fact, at that first interview, Jay only recalled three phone calls ever occurring: the call from Officer Adcock, Adnan’s “come-and-get-me” call, and Adnan’s call to be picked up from track.

FN3. There is also an additional point of interest to consider — why did Becky not testify at trial about Adnan asking Hae for a ride? The prosecution did not even call Becky as part of its case, she was called as a defense witness. But the prosecution does not appear to have raised the issue of Adnan asking for a ride in its cross (assuming there was one). Why not? Why did the state not want her testimony on this point? This could have simply been because her testimony seems to indicate that Adnan did not succeed in getting a ride that day, so it very well could mean nothing at all. But on the other hand, the lack of documents related to Becky’s statement makes me wonder if there is some additional wrinkle at play here. Is there something about Becky’s police statement, or some other conflicting evidence, which made the prosecution shy away from it?

FN4. We also have Jay’s second interview, in which he states that the call from the cops occurred as he and Adnan were walking out of Cathy’s apartment. To whatever extent this can be relied upon, it would suggest that Cathy never even overheard Adnan’s call with the cops — what she heard was his call with Aisha.

FN5. Incidentally, there is also anecdotal evidence from the internet that Adnan frequently let classmates borrow his car and cellphone. While anonymous, at least one person who was able to provide proof that they were in the same high school class as Adnan and Hae has noted the following:

I remember leaving school with Adnan he drove to my house so that we could smoke weed. We were hungry so he offered me his car to get food. I also took his phone just in case he needed to call me.

And as far as I know, the prosecution has no evidence whatsoever that Adnan did not regularly let friends and classmates borrow both his cell phone and his car. In fact, there is one witness — Will — who has said that Jay borrowing Adnan’s car was a common event.

291 thoughts on “Serial: An Examination of the Prosecution’s Evidence Against Adnan Syed

  1. Isn’t it odd that Jay panicked when police called Adnan? He didn’t even take part in anything yet, according to his story!

    • Not quite as odd as the fact that, during the first interview, he says Adnan is the one who panics when the cops call.

      But it’s definitely a useful piece of the puzzle to explain what happened that night. The call from Adcock set off a panic, causing the return to Hae’s car at the Park’n’Ride and the subsequent burial at Leakin Park. It very much seems like the killer was completely content to let it be and figure out what to do later, but the call from the police made them realize how little time they had to do something.

      • I don’t see any reference to panic in the first interview. But in the second, he says, “Um, because that’s what he does, he
        holds the phone away and says police. And at
        that time I started panicking.” But he says he didn’t help the murder, he only helped bury her — after this panic. I take this as a very telling slip up.

        By the way, you write ‘Adnan’ but it should say, ‘Jay’.

      • Jay: Ah he said that Hae didn’t pick up her cousin, they already looking for her. (Int.1 at 12-13.)

        That’s why he said “already.” No one would be looking for Jay if he was missing a few hours so he was pretty shocked the police called. And if you didn’t disappear her, you don’t use “already.”

  2. Someone on Reddit has put forward the theory that perhaps Hae dialed Nisha, and either had an innocuous conversation that was not memorable, or was prevented from speaking by the killer. After all, we’re pretty sure that Hae, the killer, and the cell phone were all together that day at around that time.

    • But Jay doesn’t recall the conversation either. There isn’t anyone who seems to remember a call happening at this time.

      Also I kind of suspect if some girl that had just begun flirting with Adnan had spoken on the phone with ex, that she would remember clear as a bell…

      • But Jay’s recollections aren’t important, you’ve very skillfully proven that Jay’s testimony is unreliable.

        Maybe it is far-fetched that Hae could have talked to Nisha in such a way that Nisha would not have remembered the call later. But if she called and the phone just rang, or she talked to someone else in the house without identifying herself, “Is Nisha there? No? Ok, bye,” and didn’t press the button to hang up, the phone could have been charged for 2:22 minutes without anyone at Nisha’s house remembering.

        Also, we know that there was a physical fight between Hae and the killer, it does seem possible that Hae might have grabbed the phone and (accidentally or intentionally) pressed the auto dial during the struggle.

        The state’s theory is that only Adnan knew Nisha, so he is the only one who could have dialed her. I’m not arguing that something else definitely happened, I’m just suggesting that there is room for doubt.

        Maybe there was a butt dial, or maybe Hae, Jay, or even Jenn dialed the number and either let the phone ring, or talked to someone at the house in a forgettable way–prank calls and anonymity were possible back in the days before caller ID.

        • Maybe Jenn or Jenn’s brother called Nisha from Adnan’s phone while Jay was at their house, if Jay was there during the times they said he was.

  3. I think there’s a very simple scenario that cleanly explains both how Jay (hypothetically) ended up with Adnan’s car after 7:00 and why Adnan has never said that Jay borrowed the car/phone that night:

    Because Adnan was super high, Jay drove on the way back to the mosque. At the mosque, Adnan got out near the entrance with the expectation that Jay would then park the car. Rather than immediately park, Jay continued to use the car (and the phone, which was, as usual, in the car) while Adnan was inside the mosque. Jay parked the car at the mosque when he was done, and afterwards Adnan found the car where he expected it to be, with no reason to suspect that it hadn’t been there the whole time.

    • And how did he get in the car without the keys…?

      I think it’s much more probable that he simply let Jay borrow it again and didn’t remember that specifically weeks/years later because, as you say, he was super high at the time, and it was weeks/years later.

          • Plus, since Adnan seemed so loosey goosey with lending his car out, he easily could have regularly kept the keys (and told others to) under the mat or in the center console or wherever. If Jay left the car for Adnan back at the mosque, it could easily have been unlocked with keys inside somewhere. Adnan may not have been in the habit of locking his car up.

      • At some point before 8pm Jay simply parks the car where he dropped off Adnan and where Adnan thought both he and Jay had left it. Jay puts phone in glove box, puts keys in sun visor and walks to where he has arranged for Jen to pick him up and waits, maybe with a shovel on him! Maybe this explains why in her original statement Jenn says Jay gets rid of his clothes and boots on the 14th (he can get rid of the shovel straight away but it’s a bit more difficult to get rid of the clothes you are wearing!)

        Just before 9pm there is a break in mosque services, Adnan walks to his car, gets his phone and takes it back into the mosque and starts using it. He has no idea that Jay was using it while he was in the mosque.

        Nothing unusual from Adnan’s point of view so he has no specific memory of it, from his perspective, he’s had the phone the whole time ie it’s been in his car.

        Of course, although Adnan can’t remember this, it would be interesting to ask him a) where he would normally keep his car keys and b) where he would normally keep his phone.

    • You’re right, that sounds very possible. And makes a lot of sense if Adnan was already freaked out by the police calling while he was super high. He probably would’ve gotten Jay to drive from Cathy’s. She did say that Adnan had asked how to make a high go away, so he had already indicated that he was having trouble coming down. Good catch

    • This is great. It sounded ridiculous to me that they would leave Kathy’s together, just so Adnan could drop Jay off at the mosque, where he has no reason to be, requiring Jenn to come pick him up to take him back to Kathy’s house… Jay could have/should have just stayed at Kathy’s and let Adnan go to the mosque.

      But your scenario solves this cleanly. Jay says “let me drive you, you’re too high” so that he can hang on to the car and phone while he’s getting rid of the body, with help from patrick or someone,

      • Yup. He got so high, he thought it was just an ordinary day. No memory. In fact he can’t even explain why or how Jay could have framed him. Right.

        • He actually did suggest the idea that Jay felt threatened by Hae. He doesn’t know for a fact what happened so he doesn’t push the issue. On Jan 9, 2015 9:54 PM, “The View From LL2” wrote:

          > JP commented: “Yup. He got so high, he thought it was just an ordinary > day. No memory. In fact he can’t even explain why or how Jay could have > framed him. Right.”

  4. “(1) that the finger prints found in Hae’s car came from one of the many days that he was in her car while she was alive, or (2) that the finger prints found in Hae’s car came from the single day he was in her car after she was dead?

    Obviously it’s the latter. And this conclusion is further supported by the fact that none of the prints found were consistent with Adnan having been in the driver’s seat when he left them.”

    Hello, don’t you mean obviously it’s the former?

    Enjoying these articles, thank you.

  5. Thanks for another great blog … That does seem like a pretty exhaustive list of evidence.

    The only thing that has been troubling me evidence-wise is the Yaser call at 6:59. I believe the scenario of Jay dropping off Adnan at the mosque is more likely than not. However, I’m stuck on the fact that the Yaser call – and the page to Jenn one minute later ping the northern side of the Woodlawn tower – the area where the high school is. Given that Adnan has 35 minutes to get from Cathy’s to his house (to pick up food for his father) to the mosque, it seems odd that they’d have the side trip (e.g. Like Jay’s McDonald’s stop).

    Moreover, it seems difficult to reconcile how you would get from the high school area to the mosque to the vicinity of Leakin Park in 9 minutes … Granted, these places are relatively close, but that seems like a real stretch. And even if this isn’t the nearest cell tower, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that the Yaser call would hit the north side of this particular tower if they were at some point to the south.

    So as someone who leans strongly toward innocence, the Yaser call is the one piece of evidence that still ties my stomach up a bit.

    • The call logs just aren’t exact enough for that kind of precision. The mosque is very close to the Woodlawn tower (catty corner off I-70), and a call made from the same location could hit any antenna. It’s unlikely the phone has even moved (at least not more than a few feet) between the 6:59 and 7:00 pm calls.

      It is possible to get to Leakin Park from the mosque in that amount of time, but my best guess is that what actually happened is the phone hopped straight onto I-70 or a side road from the mosque, heading for the Park’n’Ride, and the 7:09 call is pinging from the Park’n’Ride rather than Leakin Park itself.

    • Susan,

      I’m currently listening to this the first season of undisclosed, so I know this is a delayed question considering your in the second season but it has been bugging me since Serial. Is it possible that maybe Jen was Jay’s accomplice in Hae’s murder? It’s odd none of their stories ever add up. Plus, Jay seems to be protecting Jen at times. Aside from Jen disposing of supposed evidence, I found it premature for her to hire a lawyer just to talk to the police. To me it seemed she was not sure what the police knew and this was possibly causing her uncertainty. Has she ever been factually ruled out? (I don’t mean by the obviously corrupt detectives of Baltimore)

  6. Good stuff as always.

    Question; if the theory is that Jay acted alone, and had Adnan’s car and phone at all relevant times, doesn’t that leave Jay with a 2-car problem? Wouldn’t he have needed help to ditch Hae’s car on Edmonson?

    • (1) Why would someone busy burying a body in a park repeatedly send pages to Jenn?
      (2) How would Jay solve the two car problem, if he buried the body alone?

      Those two questions seem to provide answers for one another.

      • That I can see, but he’s got a 2 car problem before Leakin Park. He’s got a 2 car problem as soon as he kills Hae.

        I’m just trying to put together a sequence of events.

        Let’s say Jay encountered Hae outside school, and he killed her. Now he’s got 2 cars, 1 driver, and 1 dead body. Does he leave Hae’s car at the scene with Hae in the trunk while he goes back to get Adnan at track in Adnan’s car, then someone (Jen?) helps him move Hae’s car later?

        Was the call to ‘Phil’ seeking help with this?

        Somehow he’s got to get Hae’s car to Leakin Park, bury her, then to Edmonson Ave.

        • I have no idea if Jay killed Hae. When it comes to the when/where/why/who of how Hae was murdered, literally the only evidence we have is Jay’s testimony. And given his ample incentives to lie about all of that, I think his testimony on those points is worthless. Obviously Jay being the true culprit is a possibility, but there just isn’t any reliable evidence on it one way or another.

          In a way, though, that kind of Adnan’s whole problem in a nutshell: as an individual citizen who lacks the investigatory resources (and the responsibility) that the government possesses, how can it possibly be Adnan’s responsibility to figure out what really happened? And if the government was unable to figure out this case (and we know their ultimate timeline never matched reality), then why is it a sign of Adnan’s guilt that he was unable to do so either?

          • It’s not a sign of Adnan’s guilt. And I agree that he shouldn’t have to solve the case, but isn’t the reality of his situation that doing so is one of his few options for getting out of prison?

      • In his recent interview, he says he buried the body around midnight, which is more consistent with the ME’s assessment.

  7. You say “(6) Adnan’s Cell Phone Made and Received Two Calls That Were Routed Through Leakin Park at the Time That Hae Was Buried.”

    That is wrong. We have no evidence (outside of Jay’s testimony) what so ever indicating the time of burial (or death). The coroner says he can’t tell day of death or burial. Hae could have been killed the 13th and buried on the 14th. Hae could have been abducted on the 13th, killed on the 14th and buried on the 14th.

    We know for certain
    (1) when Hae was noticed missing
    (2) where her body was buried
    (3) that Adnan’s phone was in this general vicinity on the evening of the 13th.

    Yes, it seems likely that Hae was buried when Adnan’s phone was in that area but we do not KNOW when she was buried.

    P.S. I quite enjoy the blog posts. Thanks for writing them.

    • I consider it to be reasonably well-established that Hae was buried no later than that night. Enough where I’m comfortable treating it like one of the proven “facts” of the case.

      She probably wasn’t buried more than 6+ hours after her death, because according to Jay (and I do credit this part of his testimony) she was “pretzeled up” in the trunk. However, her body was found laid out, which means rigor mortis had not set in. And she probably wasn’t buries 24+ hours after death, because I assume the investigators would have found evidence of decomp in her car. (Then again, I could be giving the investigation far too much credit.)

      I also think Jenn’s statement is the most untainted statement we have. I can’t find any reason to disbelieve her claim that she met up with Jay after 8pm that night and helped him discard of his clothes and shovel(s), which means the burial occurred before then.

      • > And she probably wasn’t buries 24+ hours after death, because I assume the investigators would have found evidence of decomp in her car.

        There was an ice storm so I’m not sure how much decomposition would take place. Otzi would probably testify to this

        You are also assuming her body stays in the trunk until buried. Again, likely but no evidence to suggest this other than Jay’s testimony.

        • When referencing Otzi the Ice Man, you have to take into account that his was a unique case. He wasn’t just frozen from an ice storm. He was mummified. Big difference.

          (Archaeology major)

      • In the same way that Jay is not a disinterested party, neither is Jenn … She has an interest in minimizing her role to the degree possible, particularly if she played a more active role than we are led to believe in the burial. I think it’s incredibly likely that the burial occurred that evening and very likely that it occurred around 7, but Jay’s and Jenn’s hazy account of where they were between 8 and 11 that evening give me pause.

      • Doesn’t Jen claim that Adnan was with Jay and said hello when she picked Jay up? Surely this part of her statement must be a lie? In which case can we accept the rest as untainted?

  8. you say “We know exactly why the phone was pinging off the Leakin Park towers that night, because Jay’s statements show that the phone came with him when he went there to bury Hae.

    So there isn’t some great mystery to be solved here. We are not left with trying to figure out how Adnan’s cell phone could have magically transported itself across town and into Leakin Park at the precise time that Hae was being buried. We already know how that happened. The only question is whether or not Adnan was also with Jay at the time.”

    This doesn’t make sense. I thought we had established that Adnan and Jay were at Cathy’s before the burial and Adnan fields some calls there on his mobile. So at this point in time Adnan has his phone back. Does he give the phone to Jay again?!

  9. You’re far too forgiving with the cell phone in Leakin Park, especially because you believe the cell tower localization shows the phone in Leakin Park.

    There is a call at 6:59 to Yaser from Adann’s phone, then there is a Nisha call at 9:01 PM, for which the phone has to come back to Adnan at the mosque. Adnan is now asking us to believe that not only did he forget that Jay borrowed the phone, he forgot Jay bringing the phone back to him at mosque so he could make some calls to Nisha, Krita and Yaser while the services were still on. If this was a unique event, he really should remember that. If it was common for Jay to come by the mosque and return things to Adnan, shouldn’t Adnan have seen fit to mention this by this point in his years of defense? Either way, it is a defense he really should have come up with on his own. The way he has left it now is really unbelievable.

    Finally, as for why Adnan would be so stupid as to claim to have the cell phone- he almost certainly did not know about the cell tracking technology at the time of the crime. He initially thought it was better for him to have possession of his phone and car that evening, rather than to have an implicated Jay continue to be intertwined with his possessions all through the night. By the time he learned of his mistake, it was too late to change the story- which is why he is left with presumed possession of his phone at a most inopportune time for his interests.

    • “he forgot Jay bringing the phone back to him at mosque so he could make some calls to Nisha, Krita and Yaser”

      Nisha and __Krista__ calls are well before Adnan is suppose to be at the mosque.

        • Adnan regularly let Jay borrow his phone; requiring Adnan to clearly remember every single instance or else be guilty of murder is not a useful standard.

          I’ve explained why I think the theory that Jay took the phone at 7:00 p.m. is the best fit of the evidence, but I meant it seriously when I asked people to provide alternate explanations that could account for (1) Jay leaving Cathy’s at 6:30pm when he was supposed to be there with Jenn at 7pm; (2) Jay making a request for Jenn to pick him up at Western Hills at around 7pm; and (3) Jay’s sudden change of plans and requesting Jenn to pick him up at a new location later. I’m not saying there are not alternate possibilities, but I cannot think of any that make sense to me. Any suggestions?

          • > Adnan regularly let Jay borrow his phone;

            Adnan only got his phone a day or two before the murder. Are you saying he frequently lent Jay is phone (and presumably car) after Jan 13th or do you really mean to say he lent Jay his car on many occassions (including before he got his mobile phone)?

          • @Jonthan Cano – you won’t get a response to that fact, it doesn’t fit with the theme. I thought the same thing when I read that too.

          • We know for sure that Adnan regularly lent out his car to Jay and possibly to other acquaintances. We also have some proof that he was relaxed about lending his car and phone after the murder to other people (verified woodlawn pupil and self referenced acquaintance of Adnan).

            Based on the evidence we have above.

            Is it more likely that he is relaxed about lending out his new phone.

            Or is it more likely that he doesn’t mind lending his car but is only lending his phone out as a cover for lending it to Jay that day.

    • [Adnan] initially thought it was better for him to have possession of his phone and car that evening, rather than to have an implicated Jay continue to be intertwined with his possessions all through the night. By the time he learned of his mistake, it was too late to change the story- which is why he is left with presumed possession of his phone at a most inopportune time for his interests.

      You’re making a false assumption, at least based on all the evidence released so far. As I discuss in the post, there is no record of Adnan ever making any claims about having his phone (or lending it to Jay) prior to being presented with the evidence of the cell phone records. If he had said right then, “oh, that’s the day Jay borrowed my phone while I was at school and at mosque” there would not have been a change in his story.

      And the idea that a guilty Adnan would go with “well, I am stuck with my vague lack of memories now, guess I better roll with it!” is baffling to me. Why not say, “I’m not sure what night it was, but Jay borrowed my phone once when I was at mosque. I think it was that night.” That wouldn’t be evidence of guilt — that’s how memories work! Think of Stephanie, who said the snowball fight happened a week before it actually did.

      The only reason I can think of for why a player in Adnan’s position would stand by a “I think I had my phone” story is if that is what they actually, but mistakenly, remembered. Otherwise its an irrational choice.

      And incidentally, while I think the prosecution’s story was very vulnerable to the possibility that Adnan had let Jay borrow his phone that night (because that is wholly consistent with Jay and Adnan’s prior actions that day, and because, without Adnan’s statements, the prosecution had literally zero evidence other than Jay’s self-serving statements that it had not happened again), if I were forced to make a bet on how Jay got the phone and/or car back, I think the better money is that it was done without Adnan’s knowledge. There is no evidence that occurred (like there is with Jay borrowing Adnan’s phone), so I wouldn’t argue that’s what actually occurred. But if I had been an investigator, I sure as heck would have been checking into whether there was evidence of that.

      • There’s a difference between being presented with cell phone logs and the cell phone localization- who knows when he found out when the phone was determine to be in Leakin Park? And I am not sure why making the mistake of claiming to have the cell phone after being presented with the cell phone records excuses the mistake- especially given there were calls to Jenn in the 8pm hour, he should have been able to figure out that Jay may have had the phone if that was a possibility.

        The fact than only an idiot would make that mistake is not evidence in Adnan’s favor.

      • @ Susan Simpson:

        If I were forced to make a bet on how Jay got the phone and/or car back, I think the better money is that it was done without Adnan’s knowledge.

        Jay borrowing Adnan’s car without his permission is next to impossible — the chronology of the call log precludes it. In the case of Adnan’s phone, the log indicates that Adnan called Yaser at 6:59 pm, then offered the phone to Jay, who paged Jenn a minute later. In order for Adnan to believe that Jay had relinquished the phone, Jay must have handed it back to him. Assuming that Adnan wasn’t present for the burial in Leakin Park — which his cell phone was at or around as of 7:09 — this exchange must have occurred at the precise instance that he and Jay parted company. But Jay now has to surreptitiously reacquire the phone, which, presumably, entails going into Adnan’s car. Slyness notwithstanding, Jay’s success likely hinges on Adnan being a good distance from his vehicle. So Jay waits for Adnan to abscond to wherever he’s headed, snatches the phone, and then presumably flags down the third party they’ve booked for Jay’s extraction. How much time has passed? A few minutes at the very least. So it’s now 7:04 (probably later), and Jay and his mysterious co-conspirator (why didn’t Adnan mention leaving Jay somewhere to be picked up?) are severely limited as to the points from which they can reach Leakin Park by way of the Park and Ride in time for the 7:09 ‘burial toll’. The Islamic Society certainly seems out of the question, but if the Park and Ride isn’t near enough to ping the south side of the Leakin tower, then Jay would’ve had to depart from a position no more than a mile or two away.

        But if Adnan and Jay didn’t bid adieu in the Islamic Society’s parking lot, and Adnan attended the service that night, we have to conclude he made one (Islamic Society) or more (his house is too far from Leakin to be Jay’s departure point) additional stops. Since it’s doubtful that Adnan witnessed Jay’s departure — Jay had no time to waste following his theft — and the car was evidently unlocked, is it realistic to think Adnan never noticed the absence of his new phone? Never tried to make a call between 7:00 and 9:00 pm? Didn’t check his glove box prior to entering the mosque? And what rationale did Jay give for paging Jenn in light of the fact that he and Adnan and Adnan’s phone were on the cusp of parting ways? Seems a bit suspicious. I probably would’ve checked my phone at some point after returning to my car — at least once in the ensuing hours.

        • Jay and Adnan are dropping off car and phone. Adnan phones Yaser Ali, Jay asks if he can quickly borrow the phone to get a pick up from Jenn – he calls Jenn while Adnan leaves before Jay finishes talking to Jay because he is running late.

          I’m not saying it happened like that but to say it’s impossible for Jay to take the car and phone without Adnan knowing is not true.

        • If Adnan had a spare key hidden with the car and Jay knew about it, Jay could have “borrowed” the car while Adnan was in the mosque without Adnan knowing. It’s likely also that Adnan would have left his phone in the car rather than take it into a mosque. People did not obsessively carry phones everywhere in 1999 because they were used for making phone calls, which you wouldn’t do during prayers, for example.

  10. The Nisha call could’ve easily been solved by getting the cell phone logs for the 2 weeks Jay worked at the video store. And check for a Nisha call lasting 8 minutes binging a nearby video store tower.

    • Yes, it could have. When problems with the state’s case could have been easily solved by taking obvious investigative steps, one begins to wonder why the state repeatedly failed to do so.

    • I get into the nitty gritty timeline stuff more in my first post, but Jay says, initially, that he went home in between dropping Hae’s car off at the Park’n’Ride and picking up Adnan from track. That’s the most likely time he grabbed the shovels, regardless of who is guilty. If Jay knew he needed to bury Hae, getting shovels is the next best step — although he may have realized by then that he no longer had time to bury her before Adnan needed to be picked up from track.

      When Jay is talking to the police, he repeatedly forgets to mention that he went to his house to get the shovels before returning to the Park’n’Ride, and has to go back and re-insert that part into his story. So that provides at least some support that the shovels did not occur in the sequence he claims — because he always remembers it out of order.

      The alternate possibility is that Jenn brought them. Without more evidence of that, I’m not going to argue that happened, but there is one teensy detail that makes me willing to leave it on the table as an option: why does Jay suddenly switch from calling Jenn’s home to calling Jenn’s pager? He never paged her once before all day, and now that he knows she is probably home (according to her story of what she told him, Jay would have known she was at home), he switches to calling her pager instead? Is it because he knows she is no longer at home, and coming to meet him somewhere…?

      • Fits pretty well with this imagined dialogue.

        Jenn: “Did you wipe of the shovels to remove fingerprints?”
        Jay: “No, but I was wearing gloves, so should be OK”
        Jenn: “But I didn’t wear gloves when I picked them up at your house”
        Jay: “Damn, lets go back and wipe them down”

  11. Some grammatical corrections to an otherwise excellent blog:

    1) Paragraph 10 “let alone proves beyond a reasonable doubt — that Adnan was actually the murder”
    – replace “murder” with “murderer”

    2) “(7) Adnan Does Not Have Clearly Remember What Happened on January 13, 1999”
    – I assume just delete “have”

    3) “are going to be something less than 99% and something less than 1%.”
    – I assume you meant “greater than 1%

    4) “specifically because it was the one tat best fit the evidence”
    – replace “tat” with “that”

    5) “Adnan had showed the letter to Hae’s best friend”
    – replace “showed” with “shown”

    6) “it would make sense if Adnan would have tried to page her from his home number instead”
    – replace “would have” with “had”

    7) “about as much as evidence that Adnan had page Hae would prove”
    – replace “page” with “paged”

    8) “The amount of relevance that is has probably depends”
    – replace “is” with “it”

    9) “notes written by high school students typically to look like”
    – delete “to”

    10) “its pretty tame stuff”
    – replace “its” with “it’s”

    11) “So that’s the entirely of the prosecution’s case ”
    – replace “entirely” with “entirety”

    12) “Adnan chose Jay to his accomplice for ”
    – add “be”

    13) “To whatever extent this can be relied up”
    – replace “up” with “upon”

    14) “Adnan frequently less classmates borrow his car and cellphone”
    – replace “less” with “let”

    You also shouldn’t start sentences with “But”, “Because”, “And” or “So”

    • As a copy-editor and professional grammarian, I am telling you that you need a life. Most of your issues are typos–not grammar as your user name suggests. Because you don’t seem to understand varied structure or dependent clauses, I will leave you with this sentence that begins and ends with the word “because.” Please leave your laughable disregard for the good work Susan has done here and limited command of the English language at home.

      P.S. – My keyboard doesn’t have an em dash function, so please excuse the double hyphen.

      • Nah, that’s not fair! I’m grateful the grammar popo was kind enough to take the time to point them out to me — it was late at night when I posted this and I definitely left too many typos in, that’s my bad.

    • From Bryan Garner’s Modern American Usage:
      “and. A. Beginning Sentences with. It is rank superstition that this coordinating conjunction cannot properly begin a sentence:
      Schoolteachers may have laid down a prohibition against the initial and to counteract elementary-school students’ tendency to begin every sentence with and. As Follett and Amis point out, the same superstition has plagued but.”

      I could pull out similar examples for ‘so’ but I trust this is sufficient to establish the point.

  12. Thank you Susan. Great unbiased analysis. Refreshing. I, like many others am very obsessed with the podcast and your blog has answered most of the nagging questions I’ve had.

    The Police, but perhaps not the Prosecution per se, appear to have decided motive is heavily weighted and critical in why it is Adnan and not Jay that is guilty. And they have decided the motive of a ex-boyfriend is stronger than any motive for Jay (or anyone else) to have committed the murder.

    The report they paid for in regards to ‘Islamic Culture’ may have also influenced or strengthened their belief that Adnan was the guilty party as well?

    It does appear that the Prosecution liked to remind the Jury that Adnan was a Muslim. Why would that be? Yes they did not imply that is why he is guilty but they did perhaps seem to (sub)consciously remind everyone that he was indeed a Muslim.

    I’m not sure we will ever know definitively who killed poor Hae. However it does increasing look like Adnan should not have been convicted on what we know now (and the Jury did not know at the time). Perhaps he is guilty, but surely there is reasonable doubt.

    Jay at best was covering up how involved he was in the murder and the Prosecution knew this as well. At worst he is the murderer. Would be convicted on what we know?

    • It does appear that the Prosecution liked to remind the Jury that Adnan was a Muslim. Why would that be? Yes they did not imply that is why he is guilty but they did perhaps seem to (sub)consciously remind everyone that he was indeed a Muslim.

      Because it fits their story. Its the linchpin of the prosecution’s whole theme. Teenage boys with zero history of violence or abuse do not plot out the manually strangulation of their girlfriends — narratively, its open to criticism, as as it doesn’t jibe with expected archetype. In their case against Adnan, they had two completely different categories going on, “distraught ex-boyfriend who murders his ex-girlfriend in a sudden rage when she end their relationship because he obsessively ‘loves’ her too much” and “cold-blooded murderer who kill for personal gain.” Draw a venn diagram of that, and you’re not going to have any overlap.

      But honor killings? Boom, there’s our link. That can explain but the cold-bloodedness *and* the vengeance.

      • i’m embarrassed to admit that after listening to ep 10 I was completely convinced that some pakistani uncle, whose pride was so besmirched (because of the homecoming dance fiasco) that he sought out Hae for some kind of honor killing. I had to step way way back and realize how deeply the prosecution had infused this sentiment. ….I have to think that this was indeed the ‘benefit’ of the Trial 2 attorney with regard to saving Jay’s behind. …..she was able to so deeply taint the scenario that no one could possibly see Jay was lying

      • But that reminds me, who “plans” a murder by manual strangulation in the first place? Wouldn’t he have brought some kind of weapon if this was planned in advance? Not even a knife? Something heavy to bludgeon with? Hae Min Lee was described as “athletic.” Would he really leave it to chance that he could overpower her and keep her from escaping the car?

        Why did the state want premeditated murder? Why /couldn’t/ it have been a crime of passion? Then they don’t have to monkey around with Jay’s testimony so much.

        I guess maybe it’s because the only evidence they have is that he was planning it? The note, needing a ride, lending Jay the car. If it’s not premeditated, none of those things make a difference.

        • This is something I’m more curious about. Has anyone compared the height weight athleticism of all the principal actors here? Strangling someone to death is very difficult. Why didn’t she just hit them in the junk? Adnan was a track athlete, but Hae was a wrestler. Jay seemed the least athletic, described as a shaggy lazy person and probably the least likely to have been able to pull off the killing in my view.

          • Hae was a wrestler? I thought she did the scoring for the wrestling team. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t actually a wrestler. As to Jay’s athleticism, it was stated by SK that he played lacrosse, which is a pretty physical sport.

    • The police likely also gave Jay credit for rolling over on Adnan while implicating himself in the crime. When Jay and Jen’s burial story matches Adnan’s cell phone localization information and Adnan has no good alibis, it’s open season on Adnan.

  13. So the “I’m going to kill” note is from November? This is way before the final break up so I don’t understand how this is relavant to a January murder? Is the contention that everytime they had a break up Adnan starts thinking about killing Hae? Seems to be a big stretch.

    • Nov. 1, I believe, although I can’t remember offhand where I saw that date. Definitely early November, however.

      Is the contention that everytime they had a break up Adnan starts thinking about killing Hae? Seems to be a big stretch.

      Yes that is the contention.

        • Totally disagree. The number of times ppl say that is endless, but actually doing such an act is a rate exception not the norm. What you’re basically saying is anytime someone expressed “I want to kill x” they literally mean it and they eventually will do it. You’re totally wrong on that, not an opinion just fact.

  14. Thorough post. Thanks. You helped me get off the fence about a couple issues I was stuck on. The one quibble I have, though, with #11 – Adnan’s failure to contact Hea is that when paging a person, it’s not uncommon to page from a number unknown to the recipient of the page. The work-around is that there is usually a 2-digit code placed at the end of the phone-number-string that the paging party uses to identify himself. Using the example of 202-555-555-12, “12” would be the pre-assigned identifier of the paging party.

      • The prosecution never filled in the incoming calls with definite numbers. They could have done this by subpoenaing the phones records of phone suspected of making the incoming call. E.g. officer Adcock’s call to Adnan’s mobile. Aisha’s phone, et cetera.

        If they didn’t do this I doubt the pulled any phone records other than Adnans.

  15. Very detailed work in creating a defensible position, though based on a a lot of assumptions. Unbiased Siobhan? Hardly. I appreciate though that Susan is defense attorney and has taken the time to point out all of the deficiencies in the State’s case. None of us were there for trial and I don’t know that this is the entirety of the state’s case, but let’s assume it is. Ultimately, the jury rendered a verdict after a 6 week trial in two hours. That’s lightning fast. And most of this comes down to the credibility of Jay which Adnan’s defense attorney attacked for five days.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have a prosecutorial background, so I come into this with a different mindset. I’m waiting for the smoking gun, yet this summary is probably about as close as we’re going to get in terms of creating reasonable doubt–something Christina Gutierrez didn’t quite convey to the jury in an organized or effective way. Again, we weren’t there, but that seems to be the case. Susan, here’s the real question for you. I’m not asking about reasonable doubt or the State’s burdern. Putting that all aside and listening to the Serial podcast, do you think Adnan did it? That’s obviously a different question…I appreciate your post and perspective above.

    • Very detailed work in creating a defensible position, though based on a a lot of assumptions.

      Hey now, since the prosecution can base its whole case on speculation (what else can you call their theory about the 2:36pm call, or the significance of Hae’s diary, or the excuses used to explain why Jay might have lied so much?), then it doesn’t seem fair to suggest that an argument pointing out the flaws in the state’s argument is not permitted to do the same. I have tried very hard to offer speculation only on points where there is existing, verifiable evidence from which a reasonable inference can be made — and if you think I’ve pushed that standard too far, please let me know where, and I’ll reconsider it.

      And unlike the prosecution, I’ve limited all of speculation to scenarios that are consistent with all of the known evidence, excluding Jay’s testimony. The state’s speculations was contradicted at a dozen points by both the cell phone records; mine, at least, are not.

      That’s lightning fast.

      Yuuup. But does this *really* look like a “lightning fast” kind of case to you? Because to me it looks like a case that a jury is going to spend then whole damn week on, even if they ultimately chose to convict. Such an insanely fast deliberation time makes it very, very clear that the jury did not make a careful consideration of the evidence. (Just think of how many hours the rest of the world has spent thinking this over! And the jury was able to hash it out over a long lunch??) Add in the fact that defense counsel failed to keep out a lot of blatantly obvious hearsay and did not investigate exculpatory witnesses, and the fact that the prosecution’s games with the plea agreement sure look like a Brady violation, and this case is a prime candidate for the jury getting it wrong.

      I’m not asking about reasonable doubt or the State’s burden. Putting that all aside and listening to the Serial podcast, do you think Adnan did it? That’s obviously a different question…I appreciate your post and perspective above.

      I would mostly be agnostic about his innocence, for the same reason I’d be agnostic about whether or not Jay ate a cheeseburger that day. I mean, they could have? It’s entirely possible that Adnan could have killed Hae and that Jay could have had a cheeseburger that day. But the evidence is so vague that a hundred different things could have happened — for instance, we have no evidence that Jenn isn’t responsible for the murder, either. Nothing disproves it, and if you added in (1) a witness that said she did it and (2) a dramatic tumultuous love triangle that gives her some kind of motive a jury would find palatable, then you’ve got the exact same case that they’ve got against Adnan.

      But I think this is what ultimately tips me into believing that he is innocent is this: if the prosecution could have taken so many obvious, low-PITA steps in order to shore up an obviously weak case, why didn’t they do that?

      If they hadn’t sabotaged and distorted Jay’s testimony, we could use that to develop a more conclusive timeline, and the existence or non-existence of Adnan’s alibi might have some meaning. If they had pulled Hae’s pager records, Jenn’s landline records, and Jenn’s pager records (and I’ve yet to see any suggestion that they did this), I bet we would have gotten some great information about their movements and communications that day. If they had done a thorough investigation of Phil, Patrick, and ‘Peter,’ we might know why Jay was calling them that day, and whether they saw anything important. Did they check for cameras at Woodlawn, seen if Jay did drop Adnan off at track that day? Did they check for a pay phone at Best Buy?

      So… why not? Why choose instead to go to trial on a theory they had to have known was factually impossible?

      • Patrick and Phil (?) are so interesting to me–WAS there an investigation of where each was that afternoon? The time that Jay called Patrick is right when I’d think that Jay needs help with the 2 car situation (e.g., he drove Hae’s car to Edmonson or the Park & Ride or the mall or wherever and needs a ride back to Adnan’s car at Best Buy (or wherever that car is–we can’t know from the 5 versions Jay tells where the cars were and when)). And the time of the Patrick call is also just after Jay’s alibi time that he and Jenn are so adamant about (they work hard to make sure that no matter what else in their stories change, Jay has an alibi through 3:45, which indicates to me that the crime occurred between 2:30-3:15 or so). Has anyone been able to find any interview with Patrick or Phil? Or do we know if they have solid alibis for that afternoon?

    • Yes Markus unbiased as one can be when you aren’t associated with any parties involved. You are implying that as a defense attorney Susan would tend to lean against Prosecution. I don’t see how that is possible. She can’t defend everyone. On the other hand you seem to be defensive of the Prosecution case.

      I’m concerned you must have a smoking gun as well. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if there wasn’t so much grey. I do suspect that is always the challenge for the Police and the lawyers in many cases as well. How often is there clear and overwhelming evidence that someone is guilty I wonder.

      As someone with prosecutorial background would you have charged someone on Jay’s clearly coached interviews? Perhaps they thought they had enough physical evidence to support the interviews. However as Susan say’s that physical evidence also supports that Jay or even Jenn were the guilty parties. Surely there should have been other physical evidence to prove that it was indeed Adnan?

      • I have been in two jury situations, with one being clearly better than the other. The first time, we asked lots of questions of each other. The questions were of the type, “does the testimony support this claim.” I felt good about our work. The second time, we had a few members who made up their mind before we started deliberating. Nothing we said was persuasive and we deadlocked. This was a drug case and testimony took 3 days or so. Even that one, we spent parts of to days before declaring we were deadlocked.

        I cannot believe they convicted in two hours. I am not sure who killed Hae, even with all the information we know that the jury wouldn’t have known. I can find enough reasonable doubt I would feel compelled to vote not guilty.

        • I agree. Two hours is insane. Having zero physical evidence, no eyewitnesses to the murder, and only the testimony of someone who changes his story in major ways at least 4 times AND who is getting the deal of a lifetime (literally) to testify how he did??? How does that prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt? To me, this case is a clinic on what reasonable doubt looks like.

        • Adnan could have made it easier by testifying. What was he afraid of? He was most likely facing Life or Death penalty. Couldn’t get worse than that.

          • If Adnan had testified, he’d likely have been convicted in an hour.

            I’m not sure if his attorney was right about much else, but she made the right call about him not taking the stand.

  16. I greatly enjoy reading your posts; they are detailed, clear, illuminating and cover all questions that I could ever possibly think of. This might be a rather naive comment, but can any of these insights actually help in the defense of Adnan? Being from the UK, I am unsure of how the judicial process works in the States – is it too late for these arguments to serve as grounds for a re-trial/appeal/anything?

  17. Also, Adnan had just gotten his cell phone. How in the heck did everyone and her brother (including Hae’s brother) have Adnan’s phone number already?

    • Hae wrote Adnan’s cell phone number at the top of her diary – this corroborates Adnan’s statement that he was probably phoning Hae on 1/12/99 to give her his new cell phone number.

      Maybe this is how Hae’s brother has it or maybe Aisha gives it to him if Hae’s brother knows of Adnan and Hae’s relationship?

  18. I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can find on this case in between episodes of the podcast, and I have to say this is the most definitive takedown of the prosecution’s case (i.e., the defense Adnan should have received 15 years ago) I’ve seen so far. I do have one question and one comment:

    1) You mention that you are unpersuaded by “perception-based evidence” that may indicate a propensity for wrongdoing. Do you feel equally unpersuaded by similar evidence that shows a propensity for good behavior or that indicates the unlikelihood of a person committing a bad act?

    2) I think you are giving short shrift to the “I’m Going to Kill” note. I take your point that without a subject of the note made explicit, one could argue that the writer could have meant any number of people. However, the fact that it was 1) written on the back of a letter Adnan had received from Hae explicitly referencing not just their breakup but his negative reaction toward it; and 2) placed at the top of a series of notes exchanged regarding that letter’s and Hae and the breakup; seems to me to move the “it could have been referring to another person” argument out of “reasonable” and into “within the realm of possibility but ultimately highly unlikely.” Add to that the fact that it was found in Adnan’s possession and seems to be written in his handwriting, and to me you have the single most damning piece of evidence against Adnan, because it’s the one reasonable link to his state of mind after the breakup and before the murder. I agree with you that without other similar writings, etc., this becomes less probative, but I still think it’s much more important than you’re giving it credit for.

    • How do you know it was written between the break up and the murder? The note itself from Hae refers to the break up that she and Adnan had in November (they subsequently got back together) and the Aisha/Adnan notes on the same side as the ”I’m going to kill” was written shortly afterward.

    • You mention that you are unpersuaded by “perception-based evidence” that may indicate a propensity for wrongdoing. Do you feel equally unpersuaded by similar evidence that shows a propensity for good behavior or that indicates the unlikelihood of a person committing a bad act?

      Yeah, people who seem “good” do horrible crazy shit all the time.

      seems to me to move the “it could have been referring to another person” argument out of “reasonable” and into “within the realm of possibility but ultimately highly unlikely.”

      First, why is it unreasonable that Adnan was writing about himself? Hae wrote that exact thing about her relationship. And I can just about guarantee that if Don had been the murder victim, and they found that letter when investigating Adnan for his death, they’d spin it as evidence for that. It’s only “more reasonable” to think it was about Hae when you know she’s the one who died and Adnan might have done it — but my point was the existence of some kind of vague broody high school writing was highly likely to exist, completely independent of Adnan’s guilt or innocence.

      But I’m also kind of getting the impression that peoples’ opinions on the “I’m going to kill” note are rooted in their own personal experiences of what sort of note takers/jotters they are. For me, I am pretty sure that if someone had ripped apart all my notebooks and notepads from when I was 17, they could find a vaguely worded page somewhere to rip out and offer up as evidence to prove just about any crime. The “I’m going to kill” note just seems so… trivial. That’s really the worst thing they could find?

      • My point is that is feels (highly scientific, I know) like such a non sequitur for Adnan (or whoever wrote it) to write “I’m going to kill” on that particular note if is not related to the subject of the note. I’m not saying there aren’t other possibilities, but the possibility that he was referring to Hae sort of overshadows all the others, or would have to me if I had been a juror back then.

        But you’re right about the personal experience part; I was raised in a fairly strict religious household (not Muslim, but still), and I always had the distinct feeling that nothing I had in my possession was every really private, so I kept thoughts like that to myself, even if they were innocuous one-offs. So it doesn’t strike me as all that weird that there was only this one that Adnan had.

        • One problem I see with this idea about the note having been referring to Hae: if that had been the case, and Adnan, of course, would have had it in his mind (after the discovery of Hae’s body) that he had been referring to her, wouldn’t have most likely have destroyed the note to ensure that it couldn’t be used against him? Why, then, you may ask, didn’t he destroy it anyway: even if it wasn’t about Hae, he should have figured that it would look bad, right? Well, not so. If it was written about some random thing that was happening at the moment, such as, I’m so bored “I’m going to kill” [the teacher?] then it might not have registered in his mind that he wrote it. That is, it had no particular meaning when he wrote it and, consequently, he very well might not remember it. And if he came across it while going through his stuff, he then might not have even caught his attention. Meaning and importance would only be attached if he had, in fact, written it about Hae, and if he had, I imagine he would have destroyed it.

    • Regarding the “I’m going to kill” note, did you notice that Adnan says in one of his phone calls with SK that “I’m going to kill myself if one more person tells me, ‘Adnan you’re such a nice guy there’s no way you could’ve killed Hae'”? I try not to use that phrase, but when I’m being dramatic and sitting in the most boring meeting ever, I’ve said “I’m going to kill myself if this guy doesn’t move on to a new topic,” or “This makes me want to kill myself.” My guess is that the class was wrapping up, Adnan started to write “I’m going to kill [myself]” for whatever reason–class is boring, the teacher is boring, he’s starving, he’s exhausted, anything a high schooler finds awful–and the bell rang. So he stops midsentence and puts the note in his bag never to be thought of again. This is also in December while he and Hae are still off and on. Plus, Aisha says the note was joking, that they were making fun of each other, the tone was light and silly.

      I actually found a box of notes between my friends and I from middle and high school recently, and the stuff we wrote was ridiculous. I was in high school in 1999, same as Adnan and Hae. Everything was dramatic, so much was funny, we were so tired of being in high school. I’d forgotten how dumb we were about so many things because in many ways I feel like the same person now as I was then. Selective memory.

      Anyway, I’m just saying that this note was a non-starter for me. It’s silliness. We know he uses the phrase “I’m going to kill myself,” and writing it on that note as the bell rang explains why the sentence is incomplete, why Aisha never saw it (because Adnan had the last word, he kept the note), and why Adnan had the letter. It’s at the top of the paper because they ran out of room on the rest of the sheet because they’d been writing back and forth all class. It’s so simple.

      • Without knowing the context of the rest of the notes between Aisha and Adnan, it is difficult to peg the intent of the “I’m going to kill”. At the time it was football season and Adnan was on the football team – it may have been bragging about how he was going to do in that week’s game?…

    • Another couple of thoughts on the “I’m going to kill” note.

      1. Did SK ever ask Adnan about this? (Did you write it? When? What was the meaning?) It seems like a very obvious question to ask but I don’t recall it being discussed?
      2. Do we have any way of even knowing when it was written? Folks seem to be assuming that this line was written on the same day as the notes were being passed but isn’t this just a blind assumption? Consider this scenario:

      It’s February, Adnan has just found out that Hae (his first love) has been murdered. He’s grief stricken, and naturally poring over old photos, letters – including (potentially) the last letter she ever wrote to him. In his grief stricken state he starts to write “I’m going to kill myself” only to catch himself before he completes the sentence.

      Pure conjecture of course, but just to demonstrate that there are lots of ways those words could have ended up on that note.

  19. Now this is excellent once more. However it did make me think, where was Hae in all of this? Why wasn’t her timeline ever given out during the prosecution case. It seems she is invisible. And the reason I say this is manifold.

    Pings to Patrick and Phil. This was within the range that Hae would have gone to pick up her niece, a responsibility, we are told she took very seriously. And I hate to say this, but was this assertion ever proven in the trial? Let’s look at this last part more closely.

    This is pre call cells. Remember, this is before everyone has a mobile/call cell. If someone doesn’t call to nursery and doesn’t ring to say there is a lateness, and has previously done this on time and without fail, then a 40 minute to an hours grace is given, this would make it 4.15 (I’m not being generous here) only then would people in charge have phoned the authorities. If a violation had occurred previously then it would be not so forgiven but the same procedure would have taken place. If it was more than three times, then, and sorry about this, a protocol of social services and the police is taken, no questions. This is fairly standard procedure throughout the western world. In conclusion, let’s assume it was the first.

    Now this is where I get all weird here. Within two hours of 4.15pm, the police are ringing around Hae’s friends to ask where she is (it may well be sooner). This simply doesn’t ring true. It wouldn’t even ring true if it was a missing toddler, never mind a 17 year old teenager.

  20. Sorry meant to add that obviously if a previous lateness had occurred, then Hae and her family would have been contacted and a warning given.

    But perhaps the Nursery knew the family well and were told that on no occasion was Hae to be late. This pick up from the Nursery doesn’t sit right with me. Certainly, if a near adult disappears then it’s 24 hours before a search begins?

    Again, I’m in the UK, but I remember being told regarding pick up of my children from school that the rules were that one late pick up was tolerated, perhaps two but not three. A third was a visit to the head teachers office. Nursery was, alarmingly, more flexible, simply because they billed you. This was during the 90s.

    • I’ve wondered about that to. Perhaps the police in Baltimore were just super responsive to missing person reports… But it seems odd. I suspect there may be more to the story there than we’ve heard yet.

      • Here’s what I would say to the question of parents getting police involved within only a few hours of a 17 year old being missing:

        When I was in college, around age 19, there were a few times when my parents couldn’t immediately get in contact with me (at a school in a completely different state than where my parents live). The first time was on a weekend, my phone was accidentally off, and my parents hadn’t been able to reach me for several hours. They freaked out, called friends of friends of friends in an attempt to reach me, and finally did through getting in touch with my dorm and then hall tutor. The second time it happened several months later, the campus police were called. Again, I was 19, living in a different state, it had only been several hours, and there was no reason to be alarmed (it wasn’t like I was supposed to be somewhere and never showed up). And in the case where they called the police, it was not even like this was the *first* time it had happened!

        Remember, on the 13th, there was no “search” for Hae— the police were helping the family with calling friends, but as far as I know there was no Amber Alert issued, no official search going on. And this is for a situation more severe (more reason to be alarmed, younger person, still living with parents) than in my situation. In addition, while my mom is obviously a bit over the top in terms of paranoia, my parents are not immigrants or anything and I didn’t grow up with nearly as many restrictions as it sounds like Hae did (coincidentally, I grew up in a suburb next to Woodlawn, but I think that’s irrelevant).

        So I have to say that while there *could* be something else going on, based on my own experiences I don’t think there necessarily was.

        • I understand lily, and once I arranged to meet my daughter to take her to a nearby town for shopping and she didn’t show up. There is a sex offenders’ hostel in our area. Her sixth form were rather non plussed about it, but the primary school (where she could have been waiting for me) were much better and said that if she didn’t turn up in about an hour to go to the police, which I did. The thing is I had no idea of what the phone numbers were of her friends (and this was just a few years ago when everyone had a mobile, cell, after four hours she appeared home (had been practising piano and forgot to tell me). The police did take it seriously, but said in reality there was nothing really they could do – except write to the head of Sixth Form to ask them to tighten up the pm register. It was my eldest daughter, back from Uni who did the ringing around of friends, not the police. Seems in Hae’s case, that it’s a bit strange – just that.

      • Remember that there was a young asian woman murdered ~7months prior in the same area. I would imagine an unsolved murder like that and some ethnic similarities might have had their radar up quicker than normal.

    • I don’t find it that strange that her family called the police so quickly, considering that her mom was known to be pretty strict and protective. After likely being notified that Hae didn’t pick up her cousin and also didn’t subsequently show up at the boys’ wrestling match for which she was a team manager, those would be red flags to her mother. Then when Hae didn’t show up at home, I can see how her mom might panic. Also, I would assume that her family had tried to page Hae to no avail, when in general she was probably responsive when her family was paging her.

  21. To me, what some people say incriminates Adnan is actually to his defense..

    Why would Adnan announce to bunch of witnesses he will be riding with Hae, write on top of public letter he is gonna kill. Tell the first police to call he was the last to ride with Hae.

      • Jen says someone other than Jay and Adnan answered the phone when she called in the Leakin Park. Mr S found the body when it was totally hidden.
        Did Mr S answer Jenn’s call during the funeral?

        • Jenn’s two answers to who answered the phone at Leakin Park that evening are interesting. In the police interview she says it was Adnan. By the time of the trial, her recollection changes. It’s an older male, not Jay.

          Is it reasonable to assume that Jenn doesn’t want to commit perjury (misremembering or being mistaken isn’t perjury but lying is) but wants to ensure that Jay has corroboration that he isn’t alone during the burial scene?

          If evidence turns up that actually he was alone, well, Jenn’s mistaken and plausibly so, voices do change when someone is doing heavy exercise and maybe she misremembered or misheard the actual call. If no evidence turns up then Jenn has definitely put it in the minds of the jury that Jay is not alone and who does Jay say he is with? Adnan.

          Of course it could be evidence of another person’s involvement but it’s really the only evidence.

          • Jenn’s answers are shady. She goes back and forth about a lot, just like Jay. Although I shouldn’t be surprised–she went to Jay immediately when the cops contacted her so they could get their stories straight.

  22. “Which means that the cell phones are really excellent evidence for demonstrating that Adnan’s cell phone was in Leakin Park when Hae was buried there. ”

    This assumes that Hae was actually buried at this time. There’s no forensic data that points to this time, there is only the state’s story trying to support the call log. It is just as assumed as the time of death.

  23. I think you mistakenly put “Adnan” instead of “Jay” in the dialogue between the detective and Jay after the sentence “And by the time of the second interview, Jay has this to say:”

  24. Great posts I’m really enjoying them.
    There is only one point that keeps nagging me that you haven’t discussed. According to the timeline posted on, Adnan came to class almost a half hour late on the day of the murder. Neither his story, nor Jay’s explains this at all, but they verify it with a teacher’s note on that day. Clearly, Adnan was an attentive student, so that does seem out of character. There was really no reason for Adnan to rush back to school after giving his car to Jay because he had lunch followed by a free period. Yet that’s what his and Jay’s stories lay out.
    According to the cell records you so studiously mapped out it appears the phone was in downtown Baltimore during this time period. This makes me go back to the consulting detectives opinion that Adnan’s story doesn’t totally add up.

      • Like Susan said that shows Jenn’s testimony may be the most truthful. That doesn’t explain why Adnan, who was pretty clear on the details of that morning, says he got back to school at 11:30. Meanwhile Jay testified he called Jenn at 12:07 on his way back from the HS. While it doesn’t show any type of guilt (Hae Min was very much alive) it is the only instance I’ve come across of Adnan seeming to lie.

        • He’s not said anything about that day, of relevance. How would you know what is a lie and what is not? Maybe the whole ‘not really remembering’ is a big lie, that seems more likely than anything at this point. I have my suspicions and theories but I don’t want to spoil the conclusion of the podcast.

          • Did you read Stephanie’s and Jenn’s statements? They do the exact same thing. Not remembering a normal school day is what normal people who didn’t murder anyone do.

          • At 6:24pm, if he had not idea about Hae’s murder, his day ended from being a normal day and he would have remembered more about that day. I’m not convinced by anything put forward yet that he isn’t involved in this. I believe you have raised reasonable doubt only in the court of law. Too many conveniences and coincidences to ignore. Unless they were all planted by the cops too.

          • @Steve. Jenn has been told that day that one of her closest friends is involved in a murder cover-up – yet that doesn’t seem to make the earlier part of the day any sharper for her.

        • Since he always had lunch followed by a free period, it’s not so strange for him to get his return time wrong. He probably left campus a lot during that time, so sometimes would get back at 11, 11:30, 12, what have you. That would make it pretty hard to remember exactly what time you returned on a particular day six weeks prior. Remembering he got back at 11:30 that day when he may have gotten back later according to records really means nothing.

    • Adnan has never been asked about it, so we don’t know what his story is, but Adnan ditching class to smoke weed seems to have been a regular occurrence.

      I’m not really sure of the relevance, though, to be honest. How would Adnan being late for class be related to the murder, even if he did do it?

      • Agree with you Susan, I don’t find it relevant at all. I think the poster was inferring that if Adnan got his arrival time back at school wrong, he was probably deliberately lying about it. So if he lied about something earlier in the day, he is probably lying about what happened later in the day too, meaning he is therefore likely the murderer. To me, that sort of logic means that we need to throw EVERYTHING Jay has said out with the bathwater too, since his lies are the worst of anyone’s throughout this whole thing and without Jay’s testimony, there is no case against Adnan. None.

      • There is one issue that can add clarity to the timeline: Did Adnan actually fast for Ramadan, or was he in the habit of smoking during daylight fasting hours, being the rebelious teenager that he was?
        This would answer if Adnan actually met up with Jay during lunch and after school, and smoke as alledged.

        Of course all these highschool kids days and times are mixed up, so there is no way to resolve anything in the timeline. One thing is for sure though, the State’s timeline is a fiction from end to end. How can they be so unethical? Imagine getting caught in their claws…Horrifying. That’s the big issue for me, not if Adnan actually did it or not.

  25. Thank you for these wonderful and thoughtful blog posts.

    Regarding #14, doesn’t Jenn’s testimony also put Jay and Adnan together at 8:00pm? With Cathy’s account, this has them together before and after the Leakin park burial trip/cell tower ping and contradicts Adnan’s father’s story of Adnan being at the mosque?

    • Yep. If Jenn were motivated by a desire to exonerate Jay, there were strategies available to her that didn’t involve implicating an innocent party — say, neglecting to inform the police about the episode at Westview Mall. I’m sure Jay would’ve appreciated that. Since it seems absurd that Jenn would’ve had any foreknowledge of the call records — doubtful the police even had them at that point — it’s difficult to see what she risked by keeping her mouth shut. And if Jenn and Jay had anticipated the potential of being implicated via Adnan’s cell phone, it might’ve behooved them to avoid leading the police in his direction — especially if, contra their calumny, they had no reason to suspect his involvement. Had Adnan had an airtight alibi, Jay (perhaps Jenn, too) would’ve accomplished nothing beyond bumbling into his own conviction. But perhaps Jay and Jenn had good reason to believe that no alibi would be forthcoming …

      • >Since it seems absurd that Jenn would’ve had any foreknowledge of the call records — doubtful the police even had them at that point — it’s difficult to see what she risked by keeping her mouth shut.

        I think you are confused about the timeline of the investigation. The police pulled Adnan’s phone records after the anonymous tip. They discovered that his phone called Jenn’s home and pager like 10 million times the day Hae disappeared. They contacted Jenn for obvious reasons. She initially declined to talk to them, then came back to them after talking to Jay and lawyering up. She was absolutely confronted with the call records in her pre-interview, we know this because she even references them in her taped interview.

        • I stand corrected! I guess I missed that in reading Jenn’s interview — she makes it seem like she went to the police of her own volition. Which I guess she did, but only after she had been questioned regarding the phone calls she received from Adnan’s cell. I didn’t realize the police could subpoena your phone records based on an anonymous tip. That’s disturbing irrespective of the fact that I think Adnan is guilty.

          So I’ll walk things back a bit. Jenn knows that the police know that there were a series of calls between Adnan’s cell phone and her house and pager on the day in question. Given the call times, it doesn’t seem likely that Jenn was present at either the murder or the burial — and she lacks motive. But she spoke with Jay at the time, and she helped him dispose of some evidence, so she knows he’s guilty. Assuming she’s interested in protecting Jay, why would she implicate him at all? Perhaps it’s a bridge too far to claim she was conversing with Adnan all day, so she acknowledges that Jay had Adnan’s cell phone. But why tell the police about the episode at Westview Mall? The only reason I can think of (aside from the truth) is to add Adnan to the picture. If Jenn suspects (or knows) the police can determine the locations of the cell calls, then placing Adnan at Westview — and Leakin Park — in order to set him up for the fall may be the only way of saving Jay. Now, Jenn did a spectacularly awful job of coordinating her scheme with Jay — they couldn’t even agree on the scene of the murder until Jay’s 2nd interview — but there’s a larger problem. If Adnan genuinely had no involvement, Jenn and Jay have no idea what he was doing between 7:00 and 8:00 pm. Alternatively, Jay thinks Adnan was attending a crowded religious service amongst numerous intimate acquaintances. In other words, Jenn — who’s more than willing to beguile the police with mendacious falsehoods — felt it a smarter play to partially implicate Jay and chance that Adnan had no alibi rather than simply conceal the Westview episode and force the judicial system to convict Jay on the basis of being in a popular public park at a suspicious time.

          • I don’t think Jenn was being that calculated in terms of weighing whether or not to implicate Jay. I don’t think she had a choice since Adnan’s cell phone had made so many calls to her that day and she admitted (and others corroborated) that she was not friends with Adnan, so him calling her of his own volition at any time would have been strange. There’d be no credible way explain why Adnan’s cell phone called her house and pager so much if Jay wasn’t the one using his phone or if Jay and Adnan weren’t together. She only knew Adnan through Jay so she had to admit that Jay had placed those calls.

  26. Susan,

    “If Adnan did ask Hae for a ride on January 13th, that alone is not significant evidence. Since Jay had his car, Adnan might have just wanted to get a ride to the 7-11. On the other hand, if Adnan asked for a ride and later lied about it — that could be very significant indeed.”

    If my memory is right Adcock testified to this, didn’t he? I’m not sure now, and I’m not even sure if that can be entered into evidence. But, lets assume he did for sake of argument, do you think a stoned Adnan is more likely to make a mistake and say he asked her for a ride even though he didn’t, or more likely to say that he asked her for a ride and then later realize that it was an incriminating mistake and then lie about it? Kind of rhetorical, we both know the answer to that. 🙂


    • He did testify to that, and yes it was permissible.

      My concern is whether he said it at all. According to Jay, he didn’t say anything like that. And it appears Officer Adcock failed to take notes of this conversation. So I’m reluctant to trust his memory, without seeing more about his testimony.

      • What would it take about the rest of his testimony to believe he wasn’t perjuring himself on the stand to wrongly convict a 17 year old?

          • Sure, but three witnesses, one of whom is a detective? Pretty enviable as a standard of proof.

          • Becky kind of corroborates her own story in that she says she overhears Hae telling Adnan that she can’t give him a ride after all (episode 2). Could this be the reason prosecution didn’t want her to testify? Other people (Aisha and Officer Adcock) can attest that Adnan asked for a ride. Becky can attest that he asked for a ride but did not get one.

          • You are being passively obtuse, if there is such a thing, lol. You can’t say that Adcock didn’t keep notes and you are reluctant to believe his memory and then say that you aren’t calling him a perjure.

            If he didn’t remember and he said he didn’t remember then it wouldn’t be an issue. But instead, you are saying that he testified to something you don’t believe occurred. You did this with the Jay stories too, you basically said the cops fed him the story but backed off actually saying that when boxed into the corner about your comments. I’m fine with your opinion that there is reasonable doubt, I agree with you on the legal side of it, but if you’re going to make comments that are way more than suggestive about corruption you should stand by them or think about tempering or eliminating them.

          • The credibility of a cop’s testimony has no more and no less credibility than that of any other witness. The fact he is a detective is irrelevant; it’s not about corruption, it’s about what we know of how witness memories work. His testimony was based on a conversation from a single routine phone call that had no importance at the time it was made, and took on significant importance six weeks later after Adnan’s arrest. We have no idea yt when or how Adcock was first asked to remember that such a call occurred, and that matters a great deal.

            If he took contemporaneous notes, then that is very good evidence. Otherwise, we have two witnesses who uses very vague terms and may or may not have witnessed anything (and whom the prosecution did not want to testify at trial concerning this) and one witness who did witness the phone call, but whom we do not know when he was asked to remember the details of it. I don’t care what case we are talking about, in any case that is not evidence I am going to rely on without hearing more about the context. At this point, we don’t have it.

            But this is all much ado about nothing, because all of the known witness statements are completely consistent with one thing: Adnan did not catch a ride with Hae that day.

          • “But this is all much ado about nothing, because all of the known witness statements are completely consistent with one thing: Adnan did not catch a ride with Hae that day.”

            Not true. No one testified to seeing Adnan in the car with Hae, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. All it means is no one really saw Hae leave the school property that day. And the witness that described Hae coming in for a snack and asking for the wrestling bus to wait for her, I believe has the wrong day. Summer stated that Hae told her she was going to meet her at the meet. Why would she tell Summer that and tell someone else to keep the bus for her? Someone is mixed up on the day that the encounter happen. I believe Summer because she was left alone and in a position of inexperienced it left a bigger/lasting impression on her.

          • @Steve. If Adnan was in the car with Hae, how does he get back to school in time for a witness to see him at around 3.30pm?

  27. Hello,

    Your comment re: mosque/paging Jenn issue:

    ‘So why would Jay initially tell Jenn that he needed her to give him a ride from Adnan’s mosque at 7:00 p.m., but then call her back at 7:00 p.m. to tell her to ignore the initial plan, and that he would contact her later to let her know where to pick him up? One obvious explanation is that Jay had believed Adnan was going to drop him off at 7:00 when he went to mosque, which would have left Jay stranded and without a car.* But then something changed, and he no longer needed Jenn to pick him up — indicating that he had figured out some alternate way of getting a ride. And why might that be?’

    * He’d have Hae’s car. No incriminating evidence was found of Hae in Adnan’s car. Why would he need 2 cars on his own?

    Here’s my alternative explanation:

    First up, why would Adnan drive Jay to the somewhere near the mosque in the first place? Why would Jay almost immediately want to be taken back by Jenn?

    After leaving Cathy’s, Adnan was spooked by the phone call from the police. He had planned to bury Hae later, alone, possibly after going to the mosque (it’s not clear from the transcript, in fact, if Adnan was saying, ‘What am I going to do? What am I going to say?’ to Aisha, down the phone, who said he sounded annoyed, or to Jay, after the call, i.e. sounding freaked out. Can you clarify?).

    Both spooked, Jay and Adnan went out to the car. Cathy apparently didn’t hear the phone call to the police, so it happened minutes after leaving the flat, maybe in the car. They sat there, wondering what to do. They decided to drive to Hae’s car, which was left within walking distance of the mosque/Weston Hills park. Jay had already loaded Adnan’s boot with a shovel earlier that afternoon, so Adnan needed to put it in Hae’s car.

    While he did this, Jay paged Jen to tell him to pick him up from the park. Adnan became agitated because he then realized no one could give him an alibi for 7 p.m. actually in the mosque, but Jay would be an alibi because he was an accessory and wouldn’t incriminate Adnan later. He therefore convinced/blackmailed/bribed Jay to accompany him to bury Hae. Jen got to the park, didn’t see him, so called Adnan from a payphone, hoping to find Jay (she knew of the murder, or that he was with him last), and that’s the 7.09 p.m. or 7.16 p.m. call, incoming. The other one is maybe Yaser (‘Arabic sounding’ – confirming something with Adnan about previous call). Jae and Adnan, meanwhile, both went to the burial site, in 2 cars.

    There, it’s not what happened, but what *could* have happened. Just like either a butt-call to Nisha, or Adnan calling her soon after the murder, because who knows? There are other cases of teenaged murderers responding calmly to telephone calls right after the crime; he could plausibly decide to make one. No one can say what would be logical in such a scenario. Murder isn’t logical.

    A couple more alternative explanations to previous points you make: re: Becky and Krista’s testimonies hearing Adnan ask Hae for a lift:

    1. They were called by the police on the 13th, too. Police asked them for any information re: where Hae could be. They may not have told police right there on the phone, but it made them stop, think and question Hae’s last movements. It would only have been a few hours ago.
    2. Alternatively/in addition, police interviewed Hae’s friends, including these 2, in the missing persons enquiry following Hae’s disappearance in the following days + weeks. This also helped them to try to recall the day more clearly.

    So, it wasn’t remembering what had happened months ago when Krista made her statement. Her short-term memory became long-term as she realized its relative importance to what she was experiencing.

    As for why Adnan would risk asking for a lift in front of witnesses: he’s not a criminal mastermind. He slipped up. He didn’t take it into account. He’s so hyped up by the murder that he can’t think straight. When he told the same thing to the police, he slipped up/feared witness testimonies from his earlier slip up. I think there’s some reasonable doubt that a likely rational-thinking police officer, on contacting one of the 2 potential key witnesses or future suspects (Adnan / Don) in a missing persons report, would not forget who he’d been talking to.

    Later, changing his story, Adnan slipped up again. He had a plan, but he made mistakes. He was panicking, overthinking, etc.

    All this is pure speculation on my part, of course – I’m merely responding to yours. Very thorough blog: it keeps me going between Thursdays!

    • Well… Creative. But

      1) Why does Jay leave Cathy’s when he is supposed to be there in half an hour?
      2) Assuming Jay is “spooked,” how does this help? Remember that he told Jenn to pick him up in advance, so this was a planned thing, not a last minute decision to leave
      3) Why did Jay lie about when he loaded up a shovel into the boot? Why did he load the shovel up in the boot in the first place?
      4) “They decided to drive to Hae’s car, which was left within walking distance of the mosque/Weston Hills park.” Wait why did they do this? And why did Jay lie about the Park’n’Ride?
      5) “Adnan became agitated because he then realized no one could give him an alibi for 7 p.m. actually in the mosque, but Jay would be an alibi because he was an accessory and wouldn’t incriminate Adnan later.” Why on earth would he have needed an alibi? As far as they know, no one will ever know when Hae was buried.
      6) Why does Jenn lie about all this? … Well, I guess if she’s involved in the murder, we can assume she’s lying about everything too. But… really?
      7) Why does Jay not call Jenn before she gets to the park to tell her this?

      In order for this explanation to work, you have to assume every witness lied about everything, and nothing we know about this case has to be true. But when you’re willing to discard everything we know about the case in order to explain how Adnan could theoretically be guilty, why is it not equally logical to discard everything and assume Adnan is innocent?

      1. They were called by the police on the 13th, too. Police asked them for any information re: where Hae could be. They may not have told police right there on the phone, but it made them stop, think and question Hae’s last movements. It would only have been a few hours ago.
      2. Alternatively/in addition, police interviewed Hae’s friends, including these 2, in the missing persons enquiry following Hae’s disappearance in the following days + weeks. This also helped them to try to recall the day more clearly.

      Great! If that actually happened. There is no evidence it did. There is zero evidence Becky ever made a statement about it until April, and that one is super vague. We have no evidence Krista ever mentioned it to anyone, at any point, before the podcast.

      As for why Adnan would risk asking for a lift in front of witnesses: he’s not a criminal mastermind. He slipped up. He didn’t take it into account. He’s so hyped up by the murder that he can’t think straight. When he told the same thing to the police, he slipped up/feared witness testimonies from his earlier slip up.

      So he is such a horribly inept murderer he can’t even figure out that it is not a good idea to let people know you are going to be the last person who was alone with the murder victim before his death? I guess that’s possible. I mean, this is a murderer who is so stupid he decides to bring Jay into the plan, even though Jay is literally useless and adds nothing. (Okay I guess in one story, he at least helps dig the hole. Still not worth it.)

      • Thanks for your response.
        I might not have made my position clear on the case in reference to this theory. I believe it was premeditated, that Jay had been involved in the plan from the beginning a few days before, but that only Adnan killed Hae. Jay was Adnan’s alibi/confidante/assistant in moving cars around. Unplanned Jay involvement was the burying of Hae, at least in this scenario.

        *1) Why does Jay leave Cathy’s when he is supposed to be there in half an hour?*
        Because he was an accessory to murder and was going to help Adnan get the cars sorted (see below). He’d turned up at Cathy’s unexpectedly, anyway, perhaps just to create more alibis. He was going to use the pretext of Adnan’s wastedness to leave briefly. Now it’s all change.
        *2) Assuming Jay is “spooked,” how does this help? Remember that he told Jenn to pick him up in advance, so this was a planned thing, not a last minute decision to leave*
        Help what? I don’t know what you mean exactly. He wanted to help make sure no one discovered they were involved, so helping Adnan was helpful to himself.

        Which version of Jay’s story are you referring to here? When did he tell Jenn to pick him up? In advance of what?

        *3) Why did Jay lie about when he loaded up a shovel into the boot? Why did he load the shovel up in the boot in the first place?*
        – Because Jenn would be his alibi for this whole time.

        – He only loaded 1 shovel – Adnan planned to be lone digger. Anyway, incoming @ 4.27 p.m. pinged L654C, near his house = shovel collection. Purpose: to do something useful in his free time, so more post-track time could be spent with alibis not involving just him + Adnan.
        *4) “They decided to drive to Hae’s car, which was left within walking distance of the mosque/Weston Hills park.” Wait why did they do this? And why did Jay lie about the Park’n’Ride?*
        It was part of the premeditated plan. Originally, Jay hadn’t agreed to help Adnan dig. Jay would just assist Adnan in getting to and from locations with the 2 car issue that he had.

        Adnan was expected at the mosque that evening, so it made sense to leave Hae’s car near there so that he could 1) make an appearance at the mosque early, as expected 2) sneak out, go quickly to Hae’s car 3) bury her in Leakin Park 4) drive her car back and 5) dump it, then 6) go back to the mosque, with 7) his own car parked nearby, for example somewhere near Weston Hills Community Park.

        Maybe the original plan was for Adnan to dump Hae’s empty car at Best Buy, walkable from mosque (google tells me 24 mins but there may have been a short cut).

        I have no idea about the Park n Ride. I’ll chalk it up to ‘inexplicable lies.’ Is it really important? Maybe, but this is my response to your querying of the same events.

        *5) “Adnan became agitated because he then realized no one could give him an alibi for 7 p.m. actually in the mosque, but Jay would be an alibi because he was an accessory and wouldn’t incriminate Adnan later.” Why on earth would he have needed an alibi? As far as they know, no one will ever know when Hae was buried.*
        Alibi – because he now had no mosque alibi. Police would most likely check people’s alibis for the 13th (Hae 1st recorded missing). It would be good to have a dead cert alibi for the whole day he committed a murder + buried a body, as these were serious crimes. He hadn’t planned any more murders or burials, so he didn’t need to be concerned about any day but the 13th. Other days he could just tell the truth and there’d be no weirdness. Jay would be unlikely to give Adnan up as he’d incriminate himself.
        *6) Why does Jenn lie about all this? … Well, I guess if she’s involved in the murder, we can assume she’s lying about everything too. But… really?*
        Lie about what, and how? I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I didn’t mention Jenn myself much here.

        Obviously, though, in my hypothetical scenario, the plan changed. Jay wanted Jenn to pick him up from where Adnan had now left his car and take him back to Cathy’s with her. However, there was a last-minute change of plan. Adnan had to bury the body now, not later, because he was rattled by the police, so he convinced Jay to help with the burial. If Jay did not agree, he could simply wait for Jenn and leave Adnan to it, but Adnan would already miss mosque, so he was paranoid. The 1st page is not a lie re: message to Jenn from Jay. 2nd time: ok, she gets the direction wrong – she called Jay, not vice versa, at 7.16, consistent with 6.30 – 7.30 p.m. window you mention. She still communicated with him/Adnan re: change of plan. Later, @ 8.04/8.05, Jay was ready to be picked up from somewhere else – Westview Mall or wherever. Adnan had chosen another car dump location and drove Jay there.

        *7) Why does Jay not call Jenn before she gets to the park to tell her this?*

        Adnan was waiting on a call from Yaser so needed the phone himself. Reasonably, Jay was stressed out by new developments and forgot about Jenn, or Adnan hogged the phone, paranoid in case Yaser called with more info on whatever the mosque situation was. Jenn called Adnan’s phone from a payphone, near the Jenn-Jay rendezvous, worried, when they were already in Leakin park/very close. Adnan told Jenn Jay would call him when he was ready, and he did. Meanwhile, they buried Hae.

        I could claim that until now, Jenn was entirely unaware of the premeditated murder and was genuinely confused by events. She had no idea about Hae’s disappearance and was merely concerned for her good friend Jay. When he eventually was picked up by her, he explained the main events of the day. Later, she was protecting Jay and herself any time she lied strangely, or she genuinely forgot some details. She had not carefully planned her own day as she wasn’t involved in criminal activity until after 8.30 or whatever time it was.

        There. I don’t think it necessarily happened like that; it’s all mere speculation and an attempt at squeezing some kind of coherence out of claims + facts.

          • Ha ha, well, I tried, anyway.

            I just don’t get why, if Jay dropped innocent Adnan off at the mosque, he would need a ride anywhere. He would go to Hae’s car and drive that.

            According to your theory, when he was calling Jenn to ask for a ride from the mosque, it meant that he needed a ride to go to Hae’s car. Apparently this was left in the Park’nRide, but I don’t think this was ever true. I think it was near to the mosque/Best Buy.

            If Jay was the killer, this meant that he had needed Jenn/another friend earlier in the day to collect him from the Park’nRide and take him back to Adnan’s car. If they had driven Adnan’s car, this meant they had to drive to meet Jay first to get Adnan’s keys. It sounds a bit convoluted. Ok, it’s plausible. 4.12 p.m. to Jenn from tower 689A could be this ‘come and get me’ call. He’d left Adnan’s car *somewhere,* probably near Best Buy. Jenn had picked him up from P’nR. Jay had been taken back to Adnan’s car and he eventually used it to pick Adnan up from track. This could fit an alternative theory.

            However, he could not have relied on being able to borrow Adnan’s car + phone for the rest of the night. So, when would he have got the shovel or shovels? He couldn’t have put them in Adnan’s car earlier, as Adnan might have noticed and thought, ‘Now that really is suspicious.’ There was no time between 7.01 p.m. and 7.09 p.m. for Jay to pick up any shovels as by that time he’d got from the mosque to Leakin Park. Jenn wasn’t on the scene, either, she was at home. So, you’d have to factor in another accomplice who met Jay at Leakin Park with some shovels. Who?

    • “As for why Adnan would risk asking for a lift in front of witnesses: he’s not a criminal mastermind. He slipped up. He didn’t take it into account. He’s so hyped up by the murder that he can’t think straight. When he told the same thing to the police, he slipped up/feared witness testimonies from his earlier slip up.”

      – Sure, no criminal mastermind, but rather a teenager who has to be scared $hitless that he is going to get caught. You’d think under no circumstances would he admit to being with Hae after school (especially to a police officer), much less admit to purportedly asking her for a ride. If you’re trying to distance yourself as much as possible from a murder victim, you say, ‘sorry, didn’t see her after our last class together earlier in the day.’ Not, ‘I think I asked her for a ride after school that day.’ If he’s so ‘hyped up’ by the murder and ‘can’t think straight,’ he probably wouldn’t have remembered that he had supposedly asked for a ride in front of witnesses earlier that day so he wouldn’t remember that he should keep that story straight when speaking to police.

      Besides, who was the one who actually came across as ‘hyped up’ that afternoon/evening? Both Jenn and Cathy said Jay was not acting like himself when they saw him later that day. Specifically, Cathy said he was unusually chatty, dominating the conversation. Jenn called Jay hyper. Contrast to Jenn saying that Adnan seemed normal when she saw him and Cathy said Adnan was near comatose at her house from being so high. Who of the two guys is acting more like a hyped up person, high on adrenaline, fresh from committing a crime? Again, that proves nothing, but just playing devil’s advocate here.

    • Why is Jay spooked? You forget that at this point he is still not involved. But that’s ok, Jay too forgot this when he said, in the second interview, that HE panicked when Adnan got the call from police.

  28. Susan, another point to make about Adnan not contacting Hae after her disappearance. Hae doesn’t have a cell phone and they had to use tricks like call waiting after dialing 1-800 numbers to talk late at night when they were in a relationship. There would be no reason for him to call Hae’s parents to see if Hae was there.

  29. Ok, sorry to bother you today, but here’s my 2nd response:

    I think what you do is pick holes in isolated pieces of information evidence, showing how they can be worked in favour of Adnan’s innocence, but as a whole, they don’t form a coherent narrative that exonerates Adnan or inculpates Jay completely. I also think that you are quite selective with the information that you analyse.

    7. / 8. Memory/alibi: Sure, Adnan, if innocent, would forget a ‘normal’ day. You cite Stephanie as an example: she can barely remember the first part of her own birthday. However, that’s just the first part of the day, when nothing particular happened except for Adnan giving her a reindeer. However, I bet she could remember more detail about her sports match, her birthday celebration etc, because they were significant.

    No one denied that Adnan was at Cathy’s. So, let’s say up to that point nothing significant had happened. However, he received 3 phonecalls about Hae, one from the police. According to your debunking of park/mosque/Jay borrowed car, this would mean that 1) Adnan received a call from Adcock 2) Adnan drove Jay to near the mosque 3) Jay asks to borrow his car + phone for the night, which 3) he must surely have to return by 9, after burying Hae. Lots of interaction with Jay that day, then.

    Wouldn’t it be weird that he specifically remembered exactly why he had lent Jay his car + phone that morning, but after receiving a phone call from the police asking where Hae was, a stressful event, he wouldn’t be able to remember lending out his car + phone again, to Jay, and that Jay returned both 2 hours later? You could revise your theory and say that Jay just borrowed the phone, but Adnan has hardly used this brand new thing all day, and apparently people were always slipping outside mosque for phonecalls, so why part with it? There had to be a compelling reason. In any case, he never claimed he did (as I mentioned, why the need for the phone and the car? In an earlier post, you yourself claim Hae’s car was used, anyway), but it’s easy to see why not.

    Other aids to memory: Adnan was not spoken to by police for the first time after 6 whole weeks. He was questioned after Hae’s disappearance, like many other kids. When did he change his ‘not getting a lift’ story? Not just before he was charged. He had reasons to try to remember the day more clearly.

    9. Fingerprints: there were various prints, but not on the driver’s side. Well, consistent with wiping that side down pretty well, but also doesn’t confirm he drove the car, so fair point.

    However, fingerprints on the identity card, stored in the glove compartment? Why would it be easy to lift a print from that and not think it was significant? It’s less likely that Adnan would recently have rooted around in her glovebox and been a recent toucher of Hae’s ID card. Adnan had his phone in the evening. People used to put phones in the glovebox. He wouldn’t want to make or receive calls while burying Hae. That he touched it while going forwards or back from Leakin Park is a reasonable suggestion.

    10. No context for ‘I’m going to kill,’ and anyone can write that innocently? There is context in this case.
    Co-text context: it was written on the back of a forceful rejection letter from Hae. Below was a written to-and-fro about Hae. It wasn’t on a random piece of paper.

    Situational context: Hae was murdered. Adnan kept this letter. Was it the same graphite i.e. same pencil used? He could have written it at any time after the exchange with Aisha.

    Review section: you interpret this sentence run on from Jen, […] he was like, “well the only reason I had his car was because I wanted,” that’s when I found out that he had the car to go get his girlfriend a birthday present. (Jenn Int. at 7.) […] as meaning that Jay wanted the car. That’s a subjective interpretation. Another person equally subjectively could say, ‘She didn’t finish the idea. She was going to say, ‘…I wanted to buy Stephanie a gift.’ or, ‘I wanted to frame Adnan somehow.’

    If you want to look at evidence which completely exculpates Adnan completely coherently, rather than selecting isolated parts that together do not form a clear line of reasoning, based on either admitted, or admitted and admissible-but-not-admitted, evidence, then perhaps there is a way of doing it that I can’t fathom. I have also been selective with your post so I know it’s easy to do the latter.

    • I also think that you are quite selective with the information that you analyse.

      I literally just analyzed every single piece of evidence in the prosecution’s case, in detail, with cites to all known primary documents and witness statements. And included an invitation for people to let me know if I accidentally left anything out.

      I feel like if I am getting accused of being unfairly “selective” in analyzing the evidence against Adnan, that says a great deal more about the evidence than it does about my post.

      Look, I understand entirely that you can speculate about all of this evidence and invent scenarios consistent with Adnan being guilty. Of course you can do that! I guess this means I failed in conveying the point I was trying to make, because that’s exactly what my discussion of the prosecution’s case as a whole was intended to be about.

      When you take a dozen isolated pieces of vague and non-specific evidence, it is possible to piece them together in a thousand different ways. You can speculate until the cows come home. But when your case involves a random handful of ambiguous evidence, and saying, “the idea that Adnan is innocent is a subjective interpretation. Another person equally subjectively could say that Adnan is guilty,” that ain’t beyond a reasonable doubt. At best, that is smack dab in the middle of a giant ocean of doubt. At worst, that’s just making up fanfiction as justification for why someone should serve a life sentence.

      • I understand that you want to show how the prosecution’s evidence can be analysed and shown to have flaws significant enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt of Adnan’s guilt.

        However, you take evidence such as the Nisha call and say, ‘It’s unlikely someone who planned and had just carried out a murder would ever call their new crush right after, it’s ridiculous and irrational,’ or re: the ‘asking for a ride’ point, ‘It’s implausible that someone would accidentally say incriminating things before or after a premeditated murder, especially not to police – they’d have a better strategy,’ or ‘If someone had planned a murder , they wouldn’t write ‘I’m going to kill’ on the back of the murder victim’s angry letter to him,’ or ‘No one who looked calm and normal could ever really be stressed underneath,’ or ‘Why would Adnan bring in a useless sidekick, Jay – a murderer would find an accomplice problematic,’ etc etc.

        This is all speculation from your own subjective standpoint. I see it as arguing that Adnan just cannot be so astonishingly inept at carrying out a premeditated murder. How could one show there was reasonable doubt here? By demonstrating that he’d expertly planned and got away with murder before, raising questions that it could not be him this time? I don’t think that this supports the purpose of this blog, so I think it is permissible to challenge these statements.

        To confirm, I don’t personally buy the speculative scenario I offered re: Cathy’s house –> burial, but you asked yourself if anyone had an alternative interpretation of the apparently implausible, subjective evidence that was presented.

        Anyway, I don’t think that all interpretation of the prosecution’s evidence has to be subjective in order to reach a ‘guilty’ verdict. I think the burden of proof is sufficient to draw a conclusion of there being no reasonable doubt, unless one were to make several impossible leaps of faith.

        • Although Susan draws that conclusion – who would call Nisha? The actual evidence she puts forward is that no one remembers that Nisha call, not Nisha, not Jay not Adnan. What is your explanation for this loss of memory?

        • However, you take evidence such as the Nisha call and say, ‘It’s unlikely someone who planned and had just carried out a murder would ever call their new crush right after, it’s ridiculous and irrational,’ or re: the ‘asking for a ride’ point, ‘It’s implausible that someone would accidentally say incriminating things before or after a premeditated murder, especially not to police – they’d have a better strategy,’ or ‘If someone had planned a murder, they wouldn’t write ‘I’m going to kill’ on the back of the murder victim’s angry letter to him,’ or ‘No one who looked calm and normal could ever really be stressed underneath,’ or ‘Why would Adnan bring in a useless sidekick, Jay – a murderer would find an accomplice problematic,’ etc etc.

          Maybe you’re confusing me with someone else? Those last three are nothing I ever said. (Especially not the one about him looking calm… I even started the post with a rant about how much I despise evidence consisting of “but he seemed so X I believe he must/must not have done Y!”)

          I find it kind of interesting that you think I’m “selecting isolated parts that together do not form a clear line of reasoning,” because that’s my entire criticism of the state’s case. Each piece of evidence, standing alone, could be evidence pointing to a murder. Each piece is subject to many interpretations, including the interpretations that support Adnan’s guilt.

          But if assembled all together, those pieces point in too many directions to make a coherent whole — they depict a distorted composite of a crime rather than a real event. There are pieces that could be worked in to suggest premeditation, pieces that could be worked in to suggest sudden passion, and pieces that, while possibly supportive of Adnan’s guilt, just don’t fit in easily anywhere. When so many pieces of a case have to be jammed together in an unlikely, ill-fitted mash, that’s when the underlying premise should be seriously re-examined. Part of the problem is

          I do have a hard time understanding how you think there was evidence of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, though, when you agree that there are interpretations of the evidence that support his innocence. My disagreement with you is entirely on that point — because of course different people will analyze this evidence in different ways. There are just so many ways of putting all of it together, no one an know for sure how they actually fit. So how can there possibly be evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he did it?

          p.s. I am going to stand by the Nisha call being a butt dial no matter what, though. If there was a security video found tomorrow showing Adnan committing the murder, I’d still put a hefty bet on it being a butt dial. Neither Jay or Nisha remember the call, and the call could not have happened under the facts they remember (Nisha says she only spoke to Jay once, and that was at the video store; Jay says he was still at Jenn’s house at the time the call was made). If it wasn’t for the murder issue, there would be little dispute that this situation is easiest explained by a butt dial.

          • Nisha was a butt dial. They all remember that call being at the video store later. There’s not a more reasonable explanation. Does no one remember these old phones with the buttons that stuck out??? I overheard like 12 conversations I wasn’t supposed to because someone butt dialed me and didn’t realize they’d done so. And many other times I just hung up because they were saying nothing (or nothing interesting!). Butt dialing was like a weekly occurrence.

          • Sorry, I could have sworn I read somewhere in your post that collaborating with Jay would have been ridiculous, and I realize that you say ‘I’m going to kill’ could be neither here nor there. I misinterpreted the ‘calm’ thing, too. Mea culpa. You did make the first 2 claims in this very post, though.

            I don’t think I have agreed anywhere that there are interpretations supporting Adnan’s innocence, and if I have, then it wasn’t what I intended. I agree that presenting an alternative interpretation of 1 or 2 pieces of evidence in isolation can provide support for Adnan’s innocence in those cases, but I don’t personally believe that all your alternative interpretations, put side by side, cohere to make all of the evidence presented by the prosecution beyond reasonably doubtful.

            Basically, I think that, given Jay was indeed an accessory, and that it’s possible Jen also knew of the plan before Hae’s murder, it explains his inconsistent timeline. I’m not happy that it is evidently inaccurate in terms of matching the phone log, but it doesn’t seem like a crazy sequence of events. There not being any actual ‘come and get me’ call, since Jay would have already known where to meet Adnan, would also fit the ‘Jay is lying to distance himself from being an accessory’ theory. I’m no Jay supporter as he was completely immoral, but I don’t think that makes him the murderer.

            The Nisha call, to me, can be explained by the fact that for some reason, butt dial or ‘Ted Bundy’ levels of disassociation from Adnan (I don’t believe Adnan is a psychopath, by the way), it showed up on the call log. Police realized that this would link Adnan to being off campus and with Jay. Jay remembered nothing about this call (out of earshot/not really listening/genuine butt dial). Jay was encouraged by police to remember a subsequent call in which he spoke to Nisha on Adnan’s phone, so he remembered the time in the porn shop and attributed to this call. Yes, it was a deliberately false and shoddy thing to do. I don’t think, however, that it proves Adnan couldn’t have been there.

      • Susan, you’re a gem. For most of us fembot’s posts are tl;dr. You’re dead-on with your message. i mean the totality of your analysis and blog. She can start her own

    • There is a number of facts.

      If you believe Adnan is guilty then you believe it makes a plausible story.

      If you believe Adnan is not guilty then you believe that a series of facts have been woven together to make a plausible story to implicate Adnan.

      Both are possible (although actually the State story is not true) but in the first scenario you will think all the facts are nicely linked but in the second you will think they are not linked at all and will give reasons as to why they are not linked.

      So refuting each fact in isolation is the only thing that can be done if someone is innocent because someone else has woven unconnected facts together to make a plausible story.

  30. Would it be possible to do a blog on the idea of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Some people seem to think that the State proving Adnan is a potential murderer to their own satisfaction (the I will kill note, his possessiveness, his ethnicity etc) and the fact that Hae is dead is enough to convict him. The State does not have to be right in its timeline for Hae’s death because he killed her one or way or another, the State just didn’t actually find out the correct where or when.

    I was under the impression that the State has to prove each fact that it relies on to prove that Adnan killed Hae as in re Winship. So if it says Adnan killed Hae and it turns out that the time which the State accused him of killing her is impossible, then he should be acquitted.

  31. A few questions:

    Who carried Hae’s body from the car to the burial site and how did they see what he/they were doing as it must have been dark?

    When is the cause of her death made public as the press reported there was no obvious signs of trauma when her body was found? Did Jay tell the police Hae was strangled before the cause of her death was widely known? Did Adnan know Hae was strangled when he was first interviewed?

    • I would argue that the person who said they dumped their clothes and footwear in a dumpster was the one who carried the body. That doesn’t mean that person killed her.

      On manual strangulation: couple of points. An autopsy can determine how manual strangulation took place. This is because manual strangulation leaves a bruise fingerprint.

      Do it from the front, then the thumb prints will show up on the thorax.

      Do it from behind then the thumb prints will show up on the back of the neck. And you get the picture.

  32. OK, here is my take. You are have outstanding analytical skills, and are a very good (but prolix) writer. And, every post you’ve written has given me the impression that you decided long ago that Adnan is completely innocent. You give the appearance of scientific openness, but in fact, you’re not. You are going to hold on your belief no matter what the evidence. Every thing that doesn’t fit your belief will be explained away, at great length.

    Let’s take #7. “Adnan’s memories of the day Hae went missing are consistent in every way with the memories we would expect someone to have of a normal day that occurred six weeks before.” Imagine that, without warning, a cop calls you today. Your upstanding ex-boyfriend, whom you see every day (including today), and whom you called at midnight last night, has suddenly gone missing. Do you know anything about it? A COP. Is this a “normal day”? Of course not! Wouldn’t you immediately go over the details of your day, trying to remember when you saw him, what was said, and so on? (And wouldn’t you still remember 6 weeks from now?) And what you have done immediately after the policeman called? You’d have tried to call him in the phone that you carry with you! You’d keep calling all day, in fact. You say: “All we know right now is that Adnan never once called Hae’s pager from his cell phone after her death.” You don’t find this “surprising.” But if you had a cell phone in your pocket, isn’t that exactly the phone you would have used?

    I’m pretty sure you will explain this away. And that’s my point. I may be wrong, but I don’t think you’re capable of saying, “You know what, you’re right, and that does look bad for Adnan.” You can’t be objective because you grip so tightly to your view of Adnan’s innocence.

    • “Oh no, Adnan didn’t behave exactly as I imagine I would have behaved in his situation! HE MUST BE A MURDERER!”

      You are going to hold on your belief no matter what the evidence.

      I have no way of proving this beyond pointing to my own blog, but I promise that any opinions I have about this case were formed only after a very close examination of the facts and my much-despised prolix analysis of those facts. You seem to be personally offended that I could have examined the evidence and reached a different conclusion from you, and have therefore decided that I must have reached an opinion before looking at those facts. So you attack my honesty rather than my arguments.

      But do you really think Adnan is the only one of Hae’s friends that didn’t suddenly page here the second they found out she was missing? Does that mean all of them that did not are guilty too?

      I’m pretty sure you will explain this away. And that’s my point. I may be wrong, but I don’t think you’re capable of saying, “You know what, you’re right, and that does look bad for Adnan.”

      I think you’re too much of a scaredy-pants to admit that I’m right. I double-dog dare you to admit that your arguments are wrong. 🙂

      • Hmm. Hmm and more hmm……

        The question is if it is normal that Adnan wouldn’t call Hae on his cell. Gotta say. It doesn’t seem normal to me or anyone I talked to about it. Not what I would do. I’d be going crazy. Now. The poster didn’t say it proved anything. And it doesn’t. Don’t get the point about other people calling Hae cuz we don’t know if they did or not and they weren’t Hae’s ex-bf anyway. And this. Adnan never said he called Hae from another phone. If he had done it, he’d say it. Right? I know I would.

        Adnan acted strange. Not proof, but there it is…..

        (calling names is low class…..brings you down)

        • Maybe I should have used a winky smiley face instead of a regular smiley face? For the record, anonymous is no more of a scaredy-pants for failing to agree with me than I am unobjective for failing to agree with them. I just thought the use of reverse psychology was funny.

          The question is if it is normal that Adnan wouldn’t call Hae on his cell.

          Again, there is no evidence that Adnan never paged Hae. Full stop. We can’t say Adnan didn’t page Hae because that’s never been shown one way or another. Adnan says he doesn’t remember if he did, not that he didn’t do it at all, but it’s been 15 years — that memory can’t be relied on one way or another. But you know what could have solved this debate? Pulling Hae’s pager records. So why didn’t investigators do that?

          Not what I would do. I’d be going crazy.

          This is why I gave my disclaimer at the start of this post: I don’t consider evidence based on “well if I were in that position, I would have done…” to have any validity, in this case or any other.

          Adnan’s failure to “go crazy” was utterly normal, and exactly the same as how all of Hae’s other friends reacted. Look at the notes from Stephanie’s interview that I included above: “none of Hae’s best friends were initially worried about Hae’s disappearance. She advised that Hae’s best friends were Debbie [ ] and Aisha [ ]. [Stephanie] advised that a lot of time elapsed before anyone did anything about her disappearance.”

          If Hae’s best friends are not concerned about her welfare, why do you think it’s strange that Adnan had the exact same reaction?

    • So the first thing I would do is what the cops definitely didn’t think of: PAGE HER!

      By the way, cops searching for her means that they don’t know where she is, not that she is in danger. He didn’t think she was in danger. Neither did her friends.

      • Exactly!

        I feel about this the same way I do when someone I know is going through a hard time. It may seem counterintuitive, but I don’t want to bother them or say the wrong thing, so I don’t call/text. I’ll write a note in the mail instead.

        To me, if someone is missing, it wouldn’t cross my mind to call/text them because WHAT’S THE POINT? Clearly her family and the cops are trying to reach her, what the hell good am I going to do? And remember that she doesn’t have a cell phone. So there’s absolutely no reason for him to call her house to try to find her.

  33. Susan,

    Thanks for such great analysis. Based on your analysis and my own interpretations of all the Serial podcasts, there is not enough here to justify a conviction of murder against Adnan. The only crimes that seem provable are: Illegal use of marijuana by Jay and Adnan; and accessory to murder by Jay and Jenn. And the proof for all of that seems to be primarily based on self-incrimination.

    I find this case troubling because of how much stock this jury placed on eye-witness testimony from an individual with potentially huge motivation to lie, ignoring the almost total lack of physical evidence.

  34. Just in case it’s gone into junk (it’s a yahoo mail address) I’ve sent you some info in an email on what the podcast and various appellant brief/post convictions notes have to say on Hae’s and Adnan’s whereabouts on the 13th after school.

    Hope it’s helpful

  35. One thing that cannot be emphasized enough is the difference between the legal definition of “guilty in the eyes of the law” and the ordinary definition of “guilty in reality” as in “he actually did it.” Guilty in the eyes of the law means that based on the evidence presented by the prosecution in court, all reasonable doubt is eliminated. It’s possible to be guilty in the eyes of the law without being guilty in reality, or guilty in reality without being guilty in the eyes of the law. There is no contradiction.

    I am not a lawyer, but my own amateur opinion is that the defense was poor and the proseceution’s case weak. The defense should have been that Jay is not credible and there is no physical evidence, ergo reasonable doubt. There is not enough evidence, either physical or from credible witnesses, to eliminate reasonable doubt from a rational jury. Not even close. Everything I’ve read, including this blog, has proven this to my satisfaction. Adnan should never have been sent to prison.

    How about the question of guilty in reality? Jay is clearly in it up to his neck, but if I were forced to bet, then I’d wager it was Adnan who strangled Hae. All evidence points to a very personal murder, a crime of passion. My best hypothesis is that Adnan momentarily lost it in a fit of anger. The blogger thinks Adnan’s “bad memory” and lack of calls to Hae and skill at projecting a false image are how any innocent, honest person would act. “Adnan did what you or I would do in that situation.” Based on my experience with human beings, I don’t buy it. Personally, I WANT Adnan to be innocent in reality, so I would happily lose my bet. Unfortunately, unless some new evidence arises there is no way for anyone to know: not me, not the blogger, not anyone except the killer and Adnan (who might be the same or different).

    Agree with anonymous poster who says the blogger has a bias. It is human. The key to this case, it seems to me, is willingness to question and be wrong about the “guilty in reality” part. I have a hard enough time knowing what’s really going on with people in ordinary situations, much less a 15-year-old event where I don’t know any of the people and the key players are known to have lied!

    • “All evidence points to a very personal murder, a crime of passion.”

      What evidence? That she was strangled? That simply means that the killer didn’t have a better method. Often when it’s a ‘personal’ thing with very intense emotions, there is ‘overkill’ (the body is brutalized). That’s not the case here. so what is it about this killing that indicates it was ‘personal’ and ‘a crime of passion’? Alternatively, if Jay did it, wouldn’t that also be personal? He personally knew her, and was in a very passionate relationship with a good frend of Hae’s. Further, is there any clear evidence that there was no one else in her life who could have killed her? On the last point, there are those that speculate that since Adnan never showed he was extremely upset about the breakup (certainly not compared to may teenage breakups), then he must have been hiding his real feelings. Is it not equally possible that someone else in her life was hiding their passionate personal feelings? At the end of the day, we have NO evidence that anything happened that only Adnan could have done, and NO evidence that excludes quite a few other people, including Jay.

      You’re making the mistake many people make, I think — there’s no clear, obvious motive for ANYONE, so it must be a crazy ex-BF. Even if there’s no other evidence that he was acting crazy, that he had a temper, that he had ever ‘snapped’ before, people jump to this. Even if we know that murder following teenage breakups are actually rare, this fits the easy armchair hypothesizing.

      If you do what Susan is doing, and work backwards from the actual, definite evidence, there’s . . . almost nothing to definitely implicate Adnan.

      • A lot of straw man in your post. Sigh. I don’t KNOW who did it in reality. If I had to choose–if I absolutely had to–I’d say Adnan, but I could well be wrong (see above).

        You jump to all kinds of conclusions about how I arrive at my guess.

        Two things suggest to me a personal crime of passion. 1. Nothing about this case points to premeditation. 2. Strangulation does suggest to me a personal crime of passion, although it need not be, of course. It’s a non-sequitur to say “That simply means that the killer didn’t have a better method.” How could you possible know that? For all you know, the killer had a knife, a gun, and a nuclear warhead on him, and after carefully reviewing several methods, opted for strangulation as the method of choice. But that seems to me less likely than someone losing it.

        Of course it could have been Jay who strangled Hae in a fit of rage. If that were not so, then why do you think I said “there is no way for anyone to know,” “if forced to wager,” and the several other statement that emphasized that I don’t know and am willing to be wrong?

        “Further, is there any clear evidence that there was no one else in her life who could have killed her.” Of course not. See 5,000 threads on Reddit. There is not much clear evidence at all about the killer, which is the problem, and why several billion words have been exchanged about this case, and why I’m not full of conviction and certainty, unlike some other people.

        “You’re making the mistake many people make, I think — there’s no clear, obvious motive for ANYONE, so it must be a crazy ex-BF.” I never said proffered any such argument. I don’t think Adnan is crazy, and never said he was. That’s a blatant straw man.

        There is “almost nothing to definitely implicate Adnan.” Right, that’s why I am not sure. See above.

        For the “guilty in reality” question, there are things that point toward Adnan, and things that point against him (there is a pretty good summary on Reddit, with 26 items for and 29 against). If I had to guess, if I had to, I lean toward Adnan for a few reasons. His failure to call Hae’s pager doesn’t seem consistent with the perfectly innocent, concerned ex-boyfriend who called Hae after midnight to give her his cell number. Unlike the blogger, I just don’t believe that he acted the way any normal, completely innocent person would act. Jay implicating himself and pinning this murder on a completely innocent Adnan seems less likely than Jay and Adnan being mixed up in it together, and Jay cobbling together a half-assed series of stories to lessen his own involvement. Adnan is a smooth liar: he appear as a “golden child” while he lied to his parents for years about his drug use and girlfriends. Adnan doesn’t have solid alibis for the probable time of the murder. Nisha call. Adnan was reported to have been looking for a ride with Hae.

        But I don’t know.

        Here is a thought experiment. The devil appears to you and says, “Forget the definition of reasonable doubt, the rules of courts and evidence. Did Adnan do it or not? If you don’t answer, you go to hell. If you answer wrong, you go to hell. If you answer right, you go to heaven. You have 15 seconds.”

        In THAT case, right now I’d guess Adnan with great fear and trembling, and hope I was right.

        • Anon, where you and I disagree is not the conclusion that Hai’s murder was not premeditated (it clearly wasn’t), but your readiness conclude it was likely Adnan, despite nothing pointing in his direction. I asked for your evidence to support your guess, and you didn’t give any, and still haven’t.

          Here’s a few things to think about: Hae had already broken up with him (more than once, I believe); the breakup appeared to be for real this time; it had happened a few weeks before (as I recall, hope I’m not far off on this); Hae had written a pretty strongly critical note to him in the previous weeks (the one he wrote “I will kill” on the back); she had let him know that she was happily in love with Don. All these things had happened well before the day of the murder. None of them provoked a violent reaction. I’m wondering what you think she could have said or done that would inspire him to suddenly, without premeditation, kill her on that particular day?

          For what it’s worth, I look at this case though the filter of being a psychiatrist. I’m reasonably familiar with studies on domestic violence. When there’s a murder by an ex-BF, husband or an ex-husband, there’s most often a prior pattern of extreme behavior, threats, and violence. Restraining orders, or threats of same, are common. It’s the absence of any pattern by Adnan of reacting in some extreme or violent way in the weeks and months prior to Hae’s murder while they were breaking up and both were moving on that leads people to want to see premeditation and signs of sociopathy in Adnan. But he’s almost certainly not a sociopath, and there is no evidence of premeditation, so we’re left with either ‘honor killing’ or ‘he was prone to murderous rage.’ I think the falseness of the latter is why the prosecution wanted to try to fit a premeditation angle onto their case.

          And if it were a crime of passion, why was he so utterly nonchalant about it that evening, and the next day, and the following weeks? Meanwhile, who did act agitated and abnormal that evening? Who did go to great lengths to establish an alibi, among other things?

          And here’s a note about one of your pieces of evidence: “His failure to call Hae’s pager doesn’t seem consistent with the perfectly innocent, concerned ex-boyfriend who called Hae after midnight to give her his cell number.”

          So who said he was a concerned ex-BF? Hae’s best friends we’re particularly concerned, at least at first, according to their own testimony. We have zero evidence that he never called her pager — he doesn’t remember, and I don’t think her pager records were released. He’d given her his phone number. I remember the one time I got dumped when I was about that age. After a couple of clumsy attempts to reconcile, I told the girl “you have my number. If you ever want to talk or hang out, call me.” And I never tried to contact her again, even though I wasn’t really over her. I had my youthful pride, and I was going to be damned if I was going to call someone who had dumped me for someone else. Who’s to say that Adnan hadn’t had a similar conversation with Hae that night, when she wrote down his number?

          The other things you point to as implicating him are pure speculation, or have already been laid to rest. I mean, really, “Adnan is a smooth liar.” Because he didn’t tell his mother what he was really doing with his friends. Haha, damn, I was also a ‘golden boy’ honor student etc., but I told a few lies during my high school days. Maybe you didn’t, and that’s fine, but if you think a high school student lying about who they’re dating and if they’re drinking or smoking week means they’re somehow more likely to be murderers, then I’ve given you much too much credit for cognitive reasoning.

    • I really have a hard time making heads or tails of these facts, and to be honest, this is the crux of my issue. Some of the facts point to a premeditated murder, some of them point to a crime of passion, and none of them seem to point definitively to one person. I honestly think the way that most of us have been making a narrative of this case by paying more attention to the evidence that makes more sense to us and disregarding the evidence that makes little sense. The problem is, people are weighting different pieces of evidence with their own perspectives, and it’s causing people to come up with very different theories of the case.

      So because the facts that support a crime of passion make more sense to you, you give the evidence of premeditation less weight. For all any of us know, that could be right. It could just as easily be completely wrong.

      My own intuitive sense is that a serial killer killed Hae and either roped Jay into the crime, or Jay witnessed part of the crime (like the murderer ditching the car), and Jay worried about the killer coming after Stephanie if he put in evidence against the killer. The fact is, though, nothing supports that theory at all. My gut just thinks that because I’d rather not believe any of these high school students did it. It’s just impossible to know what actually happened with the evidence we have available now.

  36. Hi Susan, I just wanted to thank you for your extremely comprehensive assessment of the evidence. I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with Serial. As a listener, I expected a thorough interrogation of the evidence. I’ve been disappointed that Sarah Koenig seems to think she can figure out Adnan’s guilt or innocence based on perceptions of his (and Jay’s) characters, or stories and rumours from their past. She’s never explicitly said this, but so much of the podcast seems to be about putting Adnan’s character on trial, instead of examining the evidence. This is a much needed corrective. Thank you again.

    • Grace I agree, having read this blog alongside listening to the podcasts, I find that Sarah Koenig does not do enough analysis of the evidence. But as she Sarah says, she is not an attorney or investigator, just a regular person looking into a crime. I am glad I have Susan’s blog for supplementary reading.

    • Totally. There’s more than enough evidence to last all 12 episodes–we could probably do 12 episodes just going through all of Jay’s inconsistencies alone!

    • Well, I have to respectfully disagree. Serial has never been more than honest about what it was going to do. Sarah Koenig has travelled the length and breath of the USA to speak to people regarding the case. Not always successfully but at least she tried. The timelines were incredibly useful and indeed used in this blog as a springboard to a more detailed analysis.

      Regarding the newest podcast, well, that just left me feeling very sad. Sad for Adnan, sad for Hae. Adnan, convicted on what now seems to be on evidence, that at best, was suspect. Hae, especially, because she was the one who lost her life.

      And it is all so draining and incredibly painful. For us certainly. For those left affected in the wake of this awful murder? Definitely.

      • Yes, I also think Serial made it very clear what evidence there is or isn’t. However, the narrative remains in a tone of ambiguity.

        The recent episode (11) was somewhat misleading, in my opinion. What should have been presented as highly unlikely was presented as, hey you never know.

        If after meeting over a thousand murderers you never encountered someone who completely forgot about it, rule it out. If you need to, you can leave a disclaimer that there does of course remain some kind of possibility.

        This whole saga makes me really sad, and I can’t get it out of my head. Like his previous lawyer said, they took away the most important years of his life and ruined him irreparably. They can’t make it up to him.

  37. Thanks for this really detailed post. One point on your ex-boyfriend statistics… The statistic you quote is backwards for the question you’re trying to answer.

    What the statistic says is given X killed a young woman there’s a 20% probability he was an (ex-)boyfriend. What we want to know is given Adnan is an ex-boyfriend what is the probability he killed Hae. This is ‘achievable’ (for some sense of the word) through Bayes rule: P(A|B)=P(B|A)P(A)/P(B) although often misinterpreted in both directions (see OJ Simpson and R v Clark).

    I’ll leave the detailed calculations as an exercise for the reader. But in general, provided the background rate of murderers is lower than the background rate of ex-boyfriends (and I’d expect its at least a few orders of magnitudes lower), the probability of a given ex-boyfriend of a murder victim being guilty on that basis alone is vastly less than 20%.

    • This is why my use of statistics was heavily disclaimered as non-serious. Because while I think you just said it is more likely for Adnan to have been a false positive, you lost me once the equations started getting involved.

      But hey… if you know statistics, and happen to be interested in applying them to Serial, shoot me an e-mail, I have some questions for you.

      • I understand you’d disclaimed the statistics, but I still think they’re interesting. And that when you look at them in the round they look even less probative than even the initial 20% number appears.

        The real difficulty in digging any more into the numbers (other than my gut feel above) is that its so hard to draw sensible boundaries on any of the populations involved. Take the background likelihood that Adnan is a murderer, P(A) in my example above, is it approx 300/7.5m (i.e. the number of murders in baltimore in 1999 divided by the population of baltimore) or is it one in the population of Woodlawn because we’re looking at Hae’s murder and the killer had to be local?

  38. I guess we should start teaching high school students that if your friend, or especially ex-friend is missing, hurry and get notarized statements from those who were with you that day.

    By the way, what time was that letter of recommendation written? How long would he have had to wait for it to be ready?

  39. I just want to point out that cell phones were not used the same way in 1999 as they are now. They were often called “car phones” and stayed in the car. I think it would be unlikely for Adnan to bring his big, clunky, Zach Morris phone into the mosque with him, especially seeing as how it seemed to be used mostly for acquiring drugs and talking to chicks. I think it would be safe to assume that the places the phone went throughout the day are also the places the car went.

  40. You wrote, “Of all female murder victims, somewhere between two-fifths and one-third are killed by an intimate partner (defined as a current or former spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend).” But then you cited a study finding the fraction was only 22%. I wonder whether you meant “one-fifth” rather than “two-fifths”. (Sorry if this has been commented on already, there are a lot of comments and I’ve only skimmed them!)

  41. Pingback: Serial: Why the Nisha Call Shows That Hae Was Murdered at 3:32 p.m. | The View From LL2

  42. Hmm…Adnan loaning his car out may have been fairly common, but the anonymous friend that said he used the car and phone to go get food and/or evidence that he loaned both out frequently rings false. He had only gotten it Jan 12, correct? Thats a pretty small window for the phone to have made the rounds with his friends. Kinda makes me wonder how much other evidence from his friends can be really trusted

  43. Pingback: Serial Podcast; Cellphone Data Shows How Jay Acted Alone

  44. This post is incredibly impressive. I’ve been leaning toward “Adnan did it” since the Jay episode, but this makes me realize I really have no business reaching that conclusion. I did not realize Jay also knew Hae as well as he may have, or about the love quadrangle.

    And I agree 100% about perception-based evidence. Human behavior is complex and can vary wildly; we have no business sending people to prison based on whether or not they are behaving according to our predetermined expectations for appropriate responses to grief, innocence, etc. It’s why I love Serial—it remains fundamentally human, never descending to CSI-murder-of-the-week absurdity.

    • It’s why I love Serial—it remains fundamentally human, never descending to CSI-murder-of-the-week absurdity.

      I’m just shocked it took this long for someone to realize there’s a demand for episodic story telling that can be enjoyed by commuters.

      • Wow you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s a return to radio drama. This is also of I course docudrama which makes it even better but it opens up a door to good scripted, too.

  45. Another thing about “Adnan’s Lack of an Alibi”

    I recall a transcript where Jay said that Adnan wanted a ride back to track so he would have an alibi. If Adnan was thoughtful enough to have an alibi, there is no way he would be asking Hae for a ride after school with all their friends around.

    • No doubt Adnan would have been more definite about actually being at track practice on the 13th if he was conscious of that as his “alibi.” As in,”Yeah, I got there at 3:30, I saw this person and that person, and spoke to coach about ….”

      • Besides, to take a cue from Jay, if he actually had in mind to establish an alibi he would have done more than just be around. He would have gotten someone to remember him at that time. (And I do wonder about his letter of recommendation, when exactly it was written.)

        Moreover, at least he would be more adamant about the fact that he was there at that time. He would surely remember actively being there. The reason he says that he was ‘obviously’ there based on his schedule, is because he really doesn’t remember that day.

        • Yes, exactly that. Criminals can and do screw things up, but at certain point, the theory that a criminal planned and deliberately carried out a crime cannot be reconciled with the fact all of the evidence suggests no planning occurred whatsoever.

          If the prosecution were claiming that Hae’s murder hadn’t been planned at all, and that Adnan just snapped, I’d give the prosecution some more leeway. They’re the ones who insisted on this premeditation theory, though, even though nothing about Adnan’s behavior that day can be squared with it.

  46. As a fellow lawyer, I appreciate your efforts. I believe there as clearly “reasonable doubt” as in the legal definition and I would rather always be cautious and not convict people based on no weapon, one sketchy witness, etc. But I think you are going out of your way to proclaim his innocence outright – you can show reasonable doubt in terms of the legal issue but you do not need to make it sound like he is 100% innocent either (if your position is that you are being objective of course, if you are writing this as a legal argument to prove reasonable doubt – but it sounds like you are saying you are weighing both sides).

    For example, I was very put off by “Which means that Adnan’s memories of the day Hae went missing are consistent in every way with the memories we would expect someone to have of a normal day that occurred six weeks before”. Normal day? When any teenager gets a call from a police officer it is not a normal day, especially one asking about your friend being missing. I think your sentence needs to be changed to “Which means that Adnan’s memories of the day Hae went missing are consistent in every way with the memories we would expect someone to have of a day in which they got a call from the police about their missing friend that occurred six weeks before” – that messes with the premise of your whole point, so I guess that is why it was worded the way you worded it.

    Overall, I agree 100% there was reasonable to acquit but I think you need to be honest and say you are writing this to convince people to align with your conclusion, that he is innocent – which is fine, everyone has a bias on some level. Personally, I don’t get how anyone can come to the conclusion he is not involved in some way – think of all the things that have to go “right” for Jay – Adnan conveniently remembers nothing, Adnan doesn’t check out a book at the library, speak to a librarian, no one sees Hae get into her car by herself, Adnan happens to lend his cell phone to someone he apparently doesn’t know well on the same day they kill someone – don’t you think he was involved in some way and he played the best defense which was “I don’t remember anything, so they cannot trip me up and assumed he would have been found not guilty based on the evidence” – which he should have been found not guilty but now it is too late for him to point the finger at Jay.

    • Getting a call from the police asking if you know where a friend is, is not like getting a call from the KGB . It was significant and he does remember it.

      As was pointed out here, Jay wasn’t taking any chances. Most people can’t account for their whole day unless they paid special attention to it, as Don did. And Jay actually changed his story to get it up to date with emerging evidence. Adnan actually remembers things to his own detriment, like having his phone back at night.

    • “When any teenager gets a call from a police officer it is not a normal day, especially one asking about your friend being missing.”

      You’re correct that it’s not a normal day. I think what Susan was saying was that Adnan responded to it in a way that was normal for a person who was innocent, and who wasn’t concerned that his friend was in real danger. There are two ways I see to parse Adnan’s memories in light of the police call.

      (1) He’s innocent. He’s seen Hai literally a few hours earlier, and all seemed normal. There’s no inkling yet that there’s been foul play, it’s not even that late at night, it’s not necessarily that big a deal. Maybe her car broke down, and this time she only called Don, and didn’t let her family know yet. Certainly no reason to think, “I might be accused of kidnapping or killing her, I better get my facts straight.” On the other hand, he’s got pot in his car, and he’s more stoned than he’s possibly ever been. His first thought would plausibly be, “I might get in trouble for being high and holding. I need to make sure the police can’t tell I’m stoned, and I sure don’t want them coming to meet me and looking in my car.”

      In this scenario, he’s naturally concerned about himself, and has no reason to replay the day’s events in his mind, or to worry particularly about Hae. Being stoned at the time of the call also isn’t going to help the long-term clarity of his memories.

      (2) He’s guilty. He knows Hae’s family is very straight edge, that Hae picks up her cousin around 3:00-3:15 and that Hae will be missed. So it’s natural that the police will be notified within at least the first 12 hours she’s gone. And he knows as the ex-BF that they’ll contact him. He’s going to need an alibi. He’s going to need to make sure he’s not connected with the body. He’s going to know the police will be calling him, sooner or later. He’s going to want to avoid having anyone know what he’s done. Even if it was an impulsive, unpremeditated act, within hours of the murder he’s going to realize all this stuff, and he’s make some kind of preparation.

      There’s nothing I see in his behaviors or statements or memories consistent with this scenario.

      “I don’t get how anyone can come to the conclusion he is not involved in some way – think of all the things that have to go “right” for Jay – Adnan conveniently remembers nothing, Adnan doesn’t check out a book at the library, speak to a librarian, no one sees Hae get into her car by herself, Adnan happens to lend his cell phone to someone he apparently doesn’t know well on the same day they kill someone…”

      I think this is really, really thin. Jay didn’t come out with his story without considerable ‘sculpting’ (help from the police, information about the cell tower records, conversations with Adnan), and even then none of his stories really hold up. What went right for Jay was that the police concluded Adnan did it and failed to do a complete investigation, and then worked with Jay to successively craft a semi-plausible scenario, which he was never actually able to do.

      • I am so glad someone has bought up the link between Adnan’s memories, or lack there of, and the fact that he had openly admitted he was really stoned that night. Perhaps not everyone understands the effect marijuana can have on a person but impaired memory and comprehension are possible side effects of the drug. This would also account for the “unusual” reaction of not trying to contact Hae. Though I do believe that has been explained by this blog. I have also wondered if Adnan was “doped” that night?? Just another theory…….

    • But I think you are going out of your way to proclaim his innocence outright – you can show reasonable doubt in terms of the legal issue but you do not need to make it sound like he is 100% innocent either (if your position is that you are being objective of course, if you are writing this as a legal argument to prove reasonable doubt – but it sounds like you are saying you are weighing both sides).

      It’s interesting that you read it that way, because I don’t proclaim Adnan’s innocence. This post isn’t about that — it’s about what the prosecution’s evidence consisted of, and what it could be used to prove.

      . Normal day? When any teenager gets a call from a police officer it is not a normal day, especially one asking about your friend being missing.

      But that’s not how memories work. Having one memorable event does not spontaneously cause you to recall an entire day it causes you to remember that specific event. All our research on memories show otherwise.

      Additionally, Adnan (live all his other friends) were not concerned about Hae’s disappearance. Every single Woodlawn student we have on record said something similar to Adnan — that they were not initially worried by her disappearance.

      think of all the things that have to go “right” for Jay

      Without the help of the detectives, there is no way Jay could have gotten his story right so that it could incriminate Adnan. This is true whether Adnan is innocent or guilty. The police knew what Adnan’s phone records show, knew what Adnan’s alibi was, knew what Adnan could and could not show about his movements that day. It was only after extensive coaching that Jay was able to give a story that was able to craft a story that was so inconvenient for Adnan’s defense.

  47. I was very intrigued by the articles claim that you don’t have to believe that much for Adnan’s story to be true – that is, Jay made the whole thing up and Adnan didn’t know about that. For this to be true, Jay would have to “borrow” Adnan’s phone again after they leave Cathy’s house, which is not impossible given he’s already borrowed Adnans phone already. However, where I have a problem with this hypothesis is that by 9pm, there are longish calls to Krista and Nisha again, which presumably would only come from Adnan. So for the “Adnan is completely innocent” hypothesis to work, Jay would need to take Adnans cell phone with him from Cathys house, go bury the body and somehow get Adnans cell phone back to him before 9pm in such a way that Adnan doesn’t notice or remember to bring it up six weeks later. Thoughts?

    • That’s what the calls to Jenn are about. She confirmed that he called her to pick him up and that she called him and someone older picked up — not Adnan.

      If you allow the contacts to tell the narrative of who has the phone, the picture is clear. From seven till nine it is Jay’s contacts exclusively. After that, back to Adnan. Adnan leaves his phone in his car, doesn’t take it into the mosque, finds it where he left it when he comes to get it.

    • We know that Adnan left his phone in the glove compartment when Jay borrowed Adnan’s car. Adnan might not remember letting Jay borrow his phone because he wouldn’t have needed to specifically let Jay borrow the phone — Jay only had to borrow Adnan’s car while Adnan was at mosque, and he’d have access to the phone.

  48. Pingback: Serial Podcast: Producer Dana Chivas Is No Dr. Spock

  49. What if Jay went to Woodlawn to try and surprise Stephanie before track–to give her birthday present and tell her happy birthday. Maybe he’s walking across a parking lot and Hae pulls up. She says something like, “If you don’t tell Stephanie about cheating on her, I will.” And Jay gets in her car to explain. Maybe the present he got Stephanie was a really nice pair of red gloves.

  50. This is a very well thought out piece. A couple thoughts on some of the evidence admissibility points… I agree that Jenn’s statements about what Jay said should not be admissible to prove Adnan’s conduct, but, under Maryland Rule of Evidence 802.1, which makes an exception for prior statements by witnesses that are “consistent with the declarant’s testimony, if the statement is offered to rebut an express or implied charge against the declarant of fabrication, or improper influence or motive,” the statements probably should have been admissible to rehabilitate Jay’s testimony after the defense’s accusations of fabrication. Also, Hae’s diary, while not relevant to Adnan’s state of mind (the crucial issue) would arguably have been admissible to prove Hae’s future conduct in breaking up with Adnan and then becoming deeply involved with another man, which in turn would tend to support Adnan’s motive. See MRE 803(b)(3)’s hearsay exception for statements “of the declarant’s then existing state of mind, emotion, sensation, or physical condition (such as intent, plan, motive, design, mental feeling, pain, and bodily health), offered to prove the declarant’s then existing condition or the declarant’s future action. Granted, the breakup itself was not contested, and the diary should probably still have been inadmissible under MRE 403 because its prejudicial effect outweighed its probative value.

  51. Slight correction to the above. A hearsay exception for Jenn’s testimony is not necessary if the testimony is just used to rehabilitate Jay, since the testimony would then not meet the definition of hearsay, not being “offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”

  52. There are so many major holes in the State’s case and way too many outstanding questions.

    1) The State had no way of showing that Adnan was ever in Hae’s car that day. It seems very unlikely that he never made it to her car.

    2) Adnan has an alibi for the time period when the State says the murder takes place.

    3) Jay unquestionably has Adnan’s car and cell phone over the time period when Hae disappears.

    4) The Nisha call is almost definitely a butt dial. The conversation with Jay didn’t happen until weeks later.

    5) There is no physical evidence tying Adnan to the murder. None. The shovels weren’t his. Where are his clothes? Did he throw them out with too?

    6) Jay is given the greatest plea deal ever. The prosecutor’s behavior is bizarre. He arranges for the pro-bono private lawyer for Jay. Jay’s testimony appears to be crafted by the State to fit their facts. Jay had every reason to make his testimony fit the State’s facts.

    7) Jay’s story changes multiple times and is retrofitted into a cell phone record that under scrutiny doesn’t really seem to work anyway.

    8) Don didn’t call or page Hae after she disappeared and he was the current boyfriend. Does that make HIM the murderer? The point is: throw out all the character related issues. Meaningless. Also, the “honor killings” thesis suggests prejudice and convenient ignorance by the prosecutors. The kid was hardly known to be culturally conservative or hot-headed. The motive of simple jealously may make sense–perhaps a crime of passion–but pre-mediated murder for reasons of ‘honor’ and ‘pride’ just don’t add up and seem as much conjecture and sterotyping as anything.

    9) The State didn’t conduct thorough DNA testing of the evidence, they didn’t provide Hae’s pager records, they didn’t seem to investigate or charge Jen with anything–even though she also knew of the murder and was an accessory in a muder/evidence tampering.

  53. A little bit belated, but I really enjoyed these posts. The detail and effort is fantastic.
    Just have one question that’s bugging me, how do you know that Adcock didn’t make any notes after his call to Adnan?

  54. Hey, Susan, I’ve been reading back through this post in light of this idea from a Reddit writer:

    I think your analysis and deconstruction is the best I’ve seen, but I’ve never been able to get my head around Jay being a cold blooded killer and doing this alone. The idea that Jay was essentially showing off having Adnan’s car by riding around with a harder, more dangerous friend, and having an essentially chance meeting with Hae that leads to her murder, feels like all the pieces finally fit in a way that feels right. It works on every level, especially the authentic sounding reluctance to help bury the body, and the subsequent fear for his safety and Stephanie’s safety. Wonder if you’ve seen it and have thoughts?

  55. What a shame all this analytical work but all starting from the base assumption that Adnan is innocent.

    How about just working with the big picture – the basic facts – Jay was involved with the murder. Jay would have not had any reason to frame Adnan, to voluntarily implicate himself in a murder, unless he could make the story stick, which was no guarantee by a long shot. Jay is no master mind. No one believed even his regular stories full of details that weren’t believable.. He was the weird kid, the weed dealer that the GOOD kids felt safe enough to call. Frankly the police had more evidence to convict Jay.

    Jay in his recent interview gave his side of the story on why his accounts didn’t match up to anything, for his deal, he was using his “story telling” to help the police and the prosecutor.

    What you can’t explain is Adnan side to this. If he was innocent, and he had 15 years, he would have more to say about why he and Jay were together throughout that day. Why Jay was using his phone and his car, and just anything more articulate – since he’s been immensely articulate about everything else – about Jay 1) who was obviously involved the in the brutal murder of his first love and 2) framed him for murder and put him away for life.

    • What a shame all this analytical work but all starting from the base assumption that Adnan is innocent.

      I’m starting from the position that the state’s case makes no sense whatsoever. You seem to believe Jay’s story from his latest interview. If so, then you must also agree that the state’s case was a fanciful lie with no connection to reality.

      How about just working with the big picture – the basic facts –

      What basic facts are those? Because Jay sure as heck can’t remember what they are.

      Frankly the police had more evidence to convict Jay.

      Completely inaccurate. The only evidence in this case is Jay’s statements accusing Adnan. That’s not evidence that Jay did it, they would never in a million years make a murder cause against Jay out of it. Once they had his statement, they stopped looking for other evidence, so we have no idea what else might be out there.

      What you can’t explain is Adnan side to this. If he was innocent, and he had 15 years, he would have more to say about why he and Jay were together throughout that day.

      This was addressed in detail in episode 11 of Serial.

    • The police contacted Jay, not the other way around. They realized he was involved. He understood, or thought, that they would pin the whole thing on him unless he can point to someone else. He said during cross examination that he was given to understand that he is the closest to the crime and can be convicted.

      Precisely because there isn’t any solid evidence on Jay they needed him as a witness to help them get someone convicted.

      As for Adnan, do you think he would remember more things as time goes by? He said on the phone to Ms Koneg that obviously he is angry at those who put him behind bars. He just didn’t use the phone interviews to rant and yell.

      Nor did I find him all that articulate. I think that Sarah actually misunderstood him a few times.

      His response is completely in tune with someone unrelated to the case being blamed for it. Especially when he says that it bothers him more his not being believed than the sitting in jail.

  56. The fact that Jay knew where the body ties him directly to the murder, and it a shitton of more evidence to put Jay away than just testimony from him about someone else they had no other ties to the crime. There’s no reason why Jay would put himself in this position – lead them to the body – if he was betting on being able to frame Adnan.

      • One thing seemed suspicious to me in what I think was the last interview Jay had with the detectives. They asked him “Did you kill Hae Lee?” and then “Were you there when Adnan killed Hae?” The quote may be slightly off, I just re-listened to the episode and don’t have the transcript in front of me, but they definitely specifically asked if he were there when “Adnan” killed her.
        He of course said no to both. Why would they specifically ask if he was there when “Adnan killed Hae” (rather than, when Hae was killed for example) except maybe to give Jay an out if he were there when someone other than Adnan killed Hae?
        Maybe that’s a stretch, but the question as worded struck me as being unnecessarily specific, unless it was intentional.

        • Exactly. The whole interview went that way. Instead of asking open ended questions, which could have potentially brought out the truth, they fed him answers and asked if that is correct.

  57. I am finding this blog + analysis fascinating.

    And here’s what I think happened: Hae confronted Jay about Jay cheating on Stephanie. Hae said Hae was going to tell Stephanie. And Stephanie meant the world to Jay. BOOM: That’s his motive, right there. For strangling Hae. Which he did, in Hae’s car.

    Jay remembers the position of Hae’s body in the trunk because he put it there. He remembers her being a bit blue because he did actually see her. He did actually see her knees bent a bit, that she was wearing stockings.

    Jay buried the body. Maybe Jenn helped. And then Jay realized that he had to start concocting a story to frame Adnan. Why else would he implicate him? Why else would Jay have let Adnan be in jail for 15 years? Because it’s either Adnan… or him, Jay. This is why his story about Adnan doing it has never wavered. It can’t! And there’s his motive for implicating Adnan.

    When Jay says “Adnan” I substitute that for “me,” as in Jay. When Jay rambles on about how losing Hae would have meant being a loser, period — he’s talking about himself, Jay, losing Stephanie.

    Jay immediately starts building a story about Adnan — that it was premeditated, that Adnan had talked about killing Hae previously. Jay also knows that there may be physical evidence at the burial site and/or around her body/car. So he knows he has to account for being there somehow! This is why he desperately tries to prove that Adnan was with him.

    And then… the police laser focus in on Adnan, and Jay realizes, wow, I am going to get away with this. And he starts pulling away. So then he DOESN’T help bury the body, he says.

    The investigation and the trial are perfect storms. It’s like in an accident — it’s never just one factor. It’s multiple factors converging at once, snowballing. And the icing on the cake is Jay being coached by the investigators and being provided an attorney to make to make a deal. And the icing on the icing on the cake is Adnan’s lawyer, who is clearly losing it, negligent at best. Four of the cell phone records match his timeline. Ten don’t. That’s not explained. Adnan has no alibis. And Jay is a skilled liar; he’s able to sway the jury. He’s so confident! Soft-spoken, coached and coached and coached some more.

    So much of what Jay says makes no sense. And once we take those lies away; once we wipe that slate clean, everything falls neatly into place. Adnan is: at school, at the library where Asia sees him, at track where witnesses him, at Cathy’s being stoned, and then at the mosque. There are no circular trips to and from woods or park and rides or Best Buys that don’t have telephones. None of that happened.

    • word. this all makes so much more sense. there’s never any evidence of Adnan, in anything anyone says about him even those that didn’t happen to like him and thought he stole or whatever, displaying a hint of any kind of violence, no fights, no hitting, no physical threats of any kind. Jay is the guy who stabbed his cousin “just because you have never been stabbed before.” it is more likely that he would resort to a momentary flash of murderous rage and kill Hae than Adnan,who by all accounts, had a friendly relationship with Hae after their breakup and really had no reason to kill her. Hae seems like the kind of friend that would confront Jay about anything having to do with Stephenie. whether it was cheating or whatever. I never believed that this was a premeditated crime. it may be too late to get a conviction for Jay, and probably impossible unless something turns up with the Innocence Project DNA tests, but Adnan should never have been convicted on that scant amount of evidence. and never on first degree murder.

      • Double word. I realize that what I’ve doing is conjecture; vs. Susan’s extremely detailed, awesome analysis. But I kept thinking, what’s Adnan’s motive? As Susan’s written, the case regarding Adnan’s motive brought by the state was/is null. “Honor killing? Honor besmirched?” No.

        And then I kept thinking, why would Jay lie? He has demonstrated a propensity for lies, no doubt. But this is a huge one. If he needs to keep lying to cover up his own guilt, and his own relationship with Stephanie, that makes so much more sense than Adnan all of a sudden going berserk. And why does Jay keep placing himself at the scene of the crime? It’s because he knows he has to account for any possible DNA.

        And no doubt — Adnan should never have been convicted on such a lack of evidence. And the other thing that’s terrifying is how often that sort of thing happens.

        • Exactly. The Innocence Project has proven numerous wrong convictions, and these are from those which they were able to solidly prove, which is from those who got their attention.

          It seems like the actual number is way more than we would like to imagine. There must be a system of accountability for prosecutors and investigators to keep their need to convict in check.

          • Yes: WAY larger than we’d like to imagine. According to the Innocence Project’s website,, “There have been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history.”

            325. That means 325 individuals with families and friends and loved ones. 325 lives. And, these are just the cases of which we know.

            There’s also this: “In almost 50 percent of DNA exoneration cases, the actual perpetrator has been identified by DNA testing.” That’s also nuts. Because for those 325 (and countless more people), the actual perpetrators are walking around scot-free.

  58. the thing that has always bothered me is the lack of any physical evidence. I find it very hard to believe that, if Adnan killed Hae and was driving her car all over Baltimore, he would be savvy enough to not leave any fingerprints, hairs or any DNA. the statement by Jay saying that Adnan was wearing “red gloves” when he picked him up at Best Buy seems like too convenient detail, perhaps “suggested” to him by the police to explain the lack.

  59. if I was to murder someone and plan it I would have an alibi planned knowing that I am the ex boyfriend and going to be suspected. adnad has no alibi ready so he seems suspiscious but I think an alibi rehearsed is more suspicious.
    why was jenn and jay so cold as not to go to the police? what is the connection between hae and jenn?


    • To me what’s more important than the alibi question is the issue of access. The state’s case against Adnan is that he concocted this elaborate ruse with the cars to get into Hae’s car at a time when it would be certain that he’d be known as the last guy to be with her, and when she’d immediately be missed.

      Adnan had access, including private access, to Hae most any time he wanted. Who knew where she lived, where she worked, what her patterns were. He could have chosen a thousand better scenarios, ones where he could not be seen, ones where there would be other obvious suspects, ones where he would never need an accomplice. In fact, the state’s case involves him doing this in a masochistically complicated and improbable way, and then involving the least reliable person he knew, to do virtually nothing but be a witness.

  60. Did Adnon’s solicitor get anyone to check Adnon’s emails to see whether he’d opened/sent any emails when he was at the library? If not, would that info still be available?

    • On the Serial site they blogged about this. The detectives couldn’t be bothered to check it out, nor his lawyers. Now, after 15 years, the Serial crew contacted Microsoft about this. They were told that the information is lost. It is not even archived anywhere. There is simply no trace of that information in the universe.

  61. I haven’t finished reading this post or the comments, but after reading the Inez portion I thought of something… I remember reading somewhere about Hae’s wrestling assistant. Hae told her assistant she wasn’t riding the bus, but was driving herself to the match. The assistant was new and didn’t know how to take score and was worried that Hae wouldn’t show up, but Hae assured her she’d be there. Could Inez be wrong about the day she saw Hae in the gym? Why would Hae tell her assistant she wasn’t taking the bus and tell Inez she was.

    Also, I love your posts about this case. It is very thorough and intelligent. I’m almost completely convinced Adnan had nothing to do with Hae’s death. It was Jay alone or Jay with someone he is scared of and covering for. HOWEVER, the part about Adnan asking for a ride because his car was in the shop… If that is true, which we might never know, that looks way worse for him than even the Nisha call. We know that’s not the case and he’s lying. It would point to him using that excuse to get in her car. Unless of course, he just didn’t want Hae to know he had loaned his car to Jay, who she has a problem with. So many puzzles!

    • Nobody heard him tell her that his car is in the shop. That was one of Jay’s stories. The witnesses only said that he asked her for a ride — which she declined.

      • “On April 9, 1999, Becky, one of Hae and Adnan’s classmates, was interviewed by the police. Notes from that interview provided the following:

        Sometime earlier that day, apparently [Adnan] asked her to take him possibly to get car before lunch because it was in the shop. Heard about it at lunch. . . . Hae said she could, there would be no problem. At end of school I saw them. She said ‘Oh no I can’t take you, I have something else to do.’ She didn’t say what else. Approximately 2:20. . . . He said, ‘Okay I’ll just ask someone else.’ . . . He told her goodbye.”

        That’s what I’m referring to. Shockingly, someone other than Jenn backs up part of Jay’s story. It sounds like Becky heard it secondhand at lunch tho (after Adnan asked Hae before lunch), which means she wasn’t present to hear it personally, but was there at the end of school when Hae said she couldn’t give him a ride. My point is, if anyone heard Adnan ask for a ride to his car “because it was in the shop” and Jay said Adnan was going to use that excuse to get in her car, it looks bad for Adnan. We all know his car wasn’t in the shop and he would have been lying to Hae.

        • I think Susan pointed out that when asked, everyone ended up saying that they weren’t really sure. They heard that he asked but they didn’t really hear it on their own.

        • Or he said, “Jay has my car. He’s shopping.” and someone heard “in the shop.”

          Or perhaps this person is remembering a conversation where people were speculating after Hae disappeared and the police were asking questions. I have repeatedly had experiences where someone hears second-hand speculation, and interprets it to be an actual recollection. I’m sure there were many school conversations after Hae disappeared, and after the police stirred things up by interviewing people, that started with “I heard that Adnan…” and yet couldn’t be tracked down to an original source. Other conversations start with “I’ll bet that Andan …” and as this is repeated, the part indicating it’s pure speculation gets left off.

          The funny thing about gossip is that people like to fill in the blanks, to make it more specific. I’m surprised there aren’t many more stories like this, where someone heard something, and that person heard it from someone else, and it ends up going in a circle.

  62. You know who else never attempted to contact Hae after she disappeared? Don. Not saying that Don should be more of a suspect, just simply pointing out the obvious fact that it’s almost impossible to discern what is an “innocent” or “guilty” way to behave after a loved one goes missing.

  63. 1) “(i) If Adnan did kill Hae, why on earth would he have asked her for a ride in a public location, where other students could witness him doing so? If he is planning to kill her after school, it will be immediately obvious to all of their friends who was with her last. The fact that he publicly asked for a ride from Hae is by far stronger evidence that he did not have any plans to kill her.”

    This kind of stuff drives me up the wall. How come you constantly come up with theories about what “Adnan would logically do”. But your alternative theory seems to be that Jay did it but how come you don’t put together a post about all of the illogical things that Jay did like tell the cops he was never in Hae’s car – why wouldn’t he give himself the out in case of evidence of him being in the car, etc. Is this because one is an honor student and the other is an apparent drug dealer? And also if Adnan go into Hae’s car some other way, he may not have necessarily been thinking straight when he was asked about asking for a ride – he’s a teenager afterall and not a CIA mastermind assassin.

    2) “And Adnan’s statement is also consistent with his innocence in another major respect. If Adnan is a murderer who is willing to lie about everything he did that day, we would expect him to further lie about having the cell phone in his possession at the time that the pings show it was in Leakin Park.”

    What if he’s just a teenager that didn’t think things through – for example, had no idea that cell phone’s ping towers, etc. – I am the same age as him and I had a cell phone in 1999, I had no idea back then about cell phone tower pings.

    3) Why do you keep referring to the “who can be expected to remember something six weeks ago on a normal day”. Lets ignore the fact that getting a call from a cop as a teenager about your missing friend is not necessarily a normal day. Using your “logic” theories, wouldn’t it be logical that at ONE person, a friend, a family member, a mosque member, a teacher, etc. would have told Adnan between January 13 and the six-weeks later that “Hey, your the ex-boyfriend, you should probably keep track of what you did that day”. Why is it logical that Don did that if innocent parties don’t act that way?

    Again, overall, I have an issue with your use of logic and then sometimes ignoring of logic. You should either go with the facts and ignore logic or apply it in the same manner in all cases. I understand what you are trying to do – I agree 10000000% there is reasonable doubt from what we see now – not necessarily reasonable doubt in the courtroom because that is based on the jury’s acceptance of Jay’s testimony. But I don’t think we have to go the extreme of disproving every aspect of the state’s case – why not just focus on the Best Buy timeline issue and say that some of these other points are in fact very problematic for Adnan like the asking Hae for a ride thing.

    • Agreed on all points. I’ve basically just come to the conclusion that Adnan regardless of whether or not he necessarily planned on killing Hae, but upon doing so assumed he would have Jae as an alibi. Jae being raised by his grandmother, prone to telling stories to garner people’s attention (which everyone saw through), got scared when the police were pressuring him. So he cooperated with the police and did his best for them to get them the conviction.

  64. This analysis is really commendable. The 12 episodes of Serial really left me hanging and for better or worse, I can’t stop consuming opinions about the case. Though I don’t pretend to be a lawyer or any kind of legal expert, I do have some questions – Susan, if you’re reading, I’m really interested to read your thoughts on my second question.

    1. Some iterations of Jay’s story include his passing the time waiting for Jen with her brother Mark. Has Mark ever corroborated Jay’s story that we know of? Or at least been interviewed?

    2. What motive does the State have to prosecute and convict Adnan? Was the gravity of the “fake plea conversation” with Jay heavy enough that it merited being covered up? Or might we attribute this to the State investing in a conviction pre-maturely and letting that drive its story formulation? The Prosecution’s alleged anger at both Don and Becky for not telling their stories the “right” way leads me to assign a motive besides carelessness or laziness.

    Also, why wasn’t the beer bottle ever apparently tested for DNA? Why was the investigation so limited (Hae’s pager records? No follow up with Phil, Patrick and Pete or Mark? Late and thin police reports of their interview with Adnan?). I mean, is/was this really the quality of our justice system? Or was their something more calculated happening?

    (Just for the sake of ranting, I think Christina Gutierrez was plain and simple, not a good defense attorney. It is tragic to me that her responsibility to represent him, as well as the government’s were so pathetic. The reports of her subsequent unraveling in the months following this case and the reports of her demands for money from her clients at seemingly odd times (and her reportedly not using the money as promised) concern and frustrate me!)

    I get that attorneys, judges, clerks, etc are just people, but the severity of all the “mistakes” that were made in these proceedings seem out of the norm to me – but maybe that’s just wishful thinking? As with CG, I am also troubled by the report that one of the lead detectives involved had been involved in the murder conviction of a man who was imprisoned for 10 years and then proven innocent – this makes me think that his investigation standards were not what one would hope.

    3. This falls into the category of being non-evidentiary, but as a point of speculation and interest, does it strike anyone else as odd that Adnan goes straight from Cathy’s where he is “super high” to the mosque with his dad? It’s my understanding from what I’ve read that Adnan was sheepish about his parents knowing he was involved with things they, nor their religion, condoned? Would he not have smelled and acted like he was high? And wouldn’t he wanted to hide that from his dad and religious community?

    4. A couple of unrelated thoughts: Why was Mr. S dismissed so easily? Susan, any theories about who was with Jay in Leakin Park when Jenn reported hearing a different voice? (Could that have been Phil, Pete/Patrick? or even Mr. S as another poster suggested?)

    • 1. Mark has never been interviewed, as far as the police records show. Too bad. Since his story (according to what Jay says) conflicts with Jenn’s, it’d be interesting to hear what he had to say.

      2. I think they genuinely believed he was the perp. They were just concerned bad evidence would sabotage their conviction.

      3. I don’t think he did go straight to the mosque. He was concerned about the weed in his car, due the call from the police — it seems like his logical move would have been to dispose of it somehow.

      4. Dunno. He passed a polygraph, and there was no evidence connecting him to the crime. And there are too many options for who the voice was to narrow it down.

      • Thanks for the response. So, your theory is that Adnan, after leaving Cathy’s, disposed of the weed before going to the mosque? I must have missed that. I need to refresh my memory and am curious to find out how much time was left unaccounted for during that window.

        One other thing I don’t recall having been given much attention on your blog (probably because it can only be speculative) is the report that when Adnan found out that the police had found Hae’s, body he tried to call the police right away to tell them it wasn’t Hae’s body. What do you make of this? (1) Adnan being in shock and disbelief and calling to find out more information, etc? Or, (2) as a moment of panic, when he, in his teenage mind, thinks this will be his unraveling and he tries to intercept? I have an opinion but am interested in yours.

        And my big question, is there ANY chance that after so many years, Adnan could have a re-trial given all that has recently come into the public view? Even if Adnan is guilty, I believe he was dealt with unfairly like so many others. Can Adnan sue the State or the court system? Can the public today influence what happens next by putting pressure on the right people? I obviously am uninformed about the intricacies (or even the basics) of the judicial process and think I share these questions with a lot of other listeners/readers. What are the best and worst case scenarios for Adnan moving forward?

        • He tried calling the detective shortly after her disappearance became an issue to tell them that he thinks she ran down south. This was long Bedford the body was found.

          His reaction to the body being found was to cry along with other friends.

          • He cried but then he also called the police:

            Krista told Sara Koenig (Serial Narrator) that Adnan called the police dept when they were all at Aisha’s house after they found out. He was so distraught that someone else had to take the phone from him to finish the conversation.

            From Serial Podcast
            “Adnan called the Baltimore County Police Department to talk to Detective O’Shea. To tell him they’d misidentified this girl, whoever she was.”

  65. Susan,
    Many thanks for your thorough review of the material. There are a couple of things that I have searched for and cannot find mention of and would appreciate further clarification…
    1) The podcast revealed that Cathy’s dad is a homicide detective; also Jenn and Cathy are good friends. It troubles me that there is no more mention of this and I feel like if my father were a homicide detective and my friend was in trouble- and I had been with the suspects the day of a murder- he might be inclined to insert himself into the investigation or attempt to persuade Ritz and McGilivray to act in support of my friend’s account of the evening in question.
    2) I read conflicting reports that Don’s dad was also a police officer. Can you confirm or reject this? One person suggested that because his father was law enforcement, Don was quick to make a mental note of his whereabouts. I did notice in the transcripts that Adcock says he called Don at one in the morning. I would be inclined to believe that a call from the police in the middle of the night would be inherently more troubling than a call at 6.24. As far as Don goes, I think the note to him is strange and I think the floral wrapping paper with traces of rose petals in the trunk is also questionable. That said, I am inclined to believe a theory I will explain in my last question, below…
    3) I read about an “unexplained charge on Hae’s credit card” and I feel like this needs much more attention. A theory on reddit suggests Roy Davis as the killer. Apparently he killed another girl, the same age, from the area. Someone suggested that he has children who are friends with Jay’s uncle Anthony. Further that Jenn and Uncle Anthony have since been arrested together. Can you shed any light on that? Thank you in advance! Apologies if you have indicated any of this info elsewhere that I may have overlooked.

  66. I have been addicted to this blog all weekend. I have to admit it’s probably only because of your dissection and break down of the Adnan Said case. It’s intriguing as I have felt from the first episode of Serial that Adnan was innocent and Jay was 100% guilty and I’m quite sure, despite his calls to a few others, that Jenn has been his accomplice all along. Perhaps not in the actual murder but definitely in the disposal of the body and the ditching of the car. I’m not sure she was directly involved in the acts of either but she knew what Jay was doing and she was his “get away car.”
    Unfortunately, the more I read of your posts, the angrier and angrier I get because there is an innocent kid, and even though he’s in his 30’s now he was robbed of his childhood so yes I still refer to him as a kid, sitting in jail for life with very little possibility of the wrongful conviction being overturned. Wasn’t it his attorney’s responsibility to research and rip apart the prosecutions case, or in better words lack of case? How is it not possible for your very thorough direction of this case not able to be evidence that Adnan’s attorney did not defend him. Wouldn’t allowing a case to go forward based on the police giving Jay his testimony be prosecutorial misconduct? It’s a lie that inevitably the police wrote and fed to Jay. The justice system has failed Hae. Her real killer is free.

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  68. You really ought not to write about this subject in this sort of pseudo-analytical format, and I say ‘pseudo’ because the text makes it clear that you do not understand the rules of evidence as they are generally applied in common law courtrooms: i.e. The admissibility of character evidence against an accussed (its only admissable as rebuttal), the hearsay exceptions (statement against penal interest, duh!).

  69. Just wondering…. If jay has weed at his house and he’s a drug dealer (per the intercept interview) why are they driving around looking for weed? Maybe he was out of weed jan 13th.

  70. Susan I don’t recall reading about any info. Regarding haes body and what condition it was in. Meaning had it started to decay was it infested with bugs or maggots or had animals started to prey on it? I know we know she had to b flat face down at least 10 hrs for livitity to be what it was. But it seems to me that if she was put in the park let say that evening or early morning the 14th that means she was laying there outside for 3 weeks? And nothing has happened to her body as mentioned above? That seems unlikely. Even bwing cold doesn’t mean animals wouldn’t have come around. Is it possible she was killed then kept somewhere for awhile then buried? Maybe that’s why she has those marks on her shoulder/front side. But no marks from clothing? And I think more investigation into don is a must. And where did he live? What kind of surrounding environment did he have at his disposal that maybe he killed hae and was able to preserve the body somehow for awhile then dump her in the park. I know there are so many scenarios etc. and maybe everything I just said has been sorted and checked but I don’t recall that if it has. I have a few other ideas about some things but I’m going over the undisclosed podcasts and re reading stuff to make sure it hasn’t already been talked about too. I don’t want to waste your time. I admire your efforts and work you’ve put into this case. Susan u are something of a great person. Tx for ur time kellie

  71. Susan, Do you know if any of the jurors from the 1st or 2nd trial have gone on record to say why they voted the way the did and if the new information changed their minds? I’ve been looking for this everywhere but cannot find it. I’ve read so many transcripts and documents that I cannot reconcile the guilty verdict and must know if anyone now regrets convicting.

  72. I know the first jurors did not vote, but what I mean by the first set is if they mention how they were planning on voting and if the new information changed that decision one way or the other.

  73. Thank you for such a detailed, trenchant analysis of the case, Susan. I am writing to add that I have a hunch that Jenn had greater involvement in Hae’s death than she or Jay admitted. I base this on Sarah K.’s reporting that, when questioned by Sarah, Jenn stated that she didn’t want to discuss Hae’s death, but that she (i.e. Jenn) regretted a lot about that time in her life. If Jenn had, in fact, simply picked Jay up after the burial, later wiped the prints off of the shovels, and then told the police the truth about that night, she would have little to feel guilty about, years later. It seems much more likely that she had greater involvement, obscured this involvement, and now feels guilty, at the very least about lying, and at most, because she knows that Adnan is incarcerated unjustly. For context, I’m a psychologist who, for work, interprets people’s feelings and memories about their lives, and this is my best guess about the meaning of Jenn’s comment. Such an interpretation is supported by your (Susan) guess about what happened the night of the burial.

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  78. You don’t even really need Jay to have helped cover up the murder. Jay testified that he had seen the car before. That was really the only thing (Jay supposedly pointing out the car) that showed that Jay had helped.

  79. Legal dribble, like turning a toe nail into a dragon.
    Thank God Jay was there, if hadn’t Hae Lee’s may have never been found. He was to tell Adnan that the hole was deep enough, Adnan didn’t know a min. 2 feet of cover is necessary.
    Adnan is responsible for everyone’s misery and Rabia has started a horrific business model for profiting from Hae Min Lee’s nightmarish ending. Guilty or Not guilty these methods of making a murder the latest trending bias cloud-funding entertainment is an attack to our society as a whole.
    We need laws against this type of unethical and maniacal behavior.

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