Serial: Phone Records, Bank Records, and Alibi Witnesses

The following post is a collection of a few points of interest that I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in other forums, but have not yet addressed on my blog. In order to make everything available in a central location, I’ve expanded on those topics below, with links to source material.

The 5:13 p.m. Phone Call

In addition to the 33 calls that were disclosed in the phone records introduced at trial, additional records, provided by Abe Waranowitz but not introduced into evidence, disclosed the existence of an additional, previously undisclosed phone call made from Adnan’s cellphone on January 13, 1999.  AT&T’s dropped call records from January 13th show that a call made to or from Adnan’s cellphone was dropped, apparently due to reception issues:

Radio Release - Drop Call - 513pm call

The 5:13 p.m. call does not show up on Adnan’s phone bill, or on the cellphone records obtained by the prosecution, so there is no way to know if it was an incoming or outgoing call, or who might have been on the other line. The 5:13 p.m. call does, however, provide a more detailed context for the 5:14 p.m. call, which was an incoming call to voicemail. Adnan’s cellphone received or made a call at 5:13 p.m. that was subsequently dropped due to poor reception, and then (presumably) the person who had been on the other end of the line tried to call back at 5:14 p.m., but was sent to voicemail instead, as the phone did not have reception at that time.

The tower from which this call was dropped was L651A, which covers Woodlawn and the area around Woodlawn High School. The previous call, at 4:58 p.m., had originated on L654C, which roughly covers the area of Jay’s mother’s house — however, as an incoming call, that could also be an artifact of the unreliability of location data for incoming calls, making it uncertain where the phone had been before. These records indicate that the 4:58 p.m. call was likely from Adnan asking Jay to pick him up at 5:30 p.m., which was the typical time that track practice ended. After receiving the call, Jay (along with the cellphone) then migrated up towards Woodlawn to pick Adnan up, so that, at 5:13 p.m., the phone was in the area covered by L651A.

The Real Nisha Call

The real Nisha Call was not the 3:32 p.m. call on January 13th, but a call that occurred at 7:17 p.m. on February 14th. That call — unlike the call made to Nisha on January 13th — is consistent with the cellphone records, with Nisha’s testimony concerning the nature of the phone call, and with Jay’s work records.

The Real Nisha Call

The Real Nisha Call

The cell records show that, at the time of the February 14th call, Adnan’s cellphone was in the vicinity of the video store where Jay worked — consistent with Nisha’s recollections of what was happening at the time of the phone call.

L608C and Video Store

Jay’s work schedule, provided by his manager at the video store where he worked, confirmed that Jay was working at the video store at the time of the February 14th call:

Jay - Work Schedule

This phone call matches Nisha’s testimony far better than does the phone call made on January 13th. Consider her testimony from the first trial:

KU: Now, just to focus you in. Did there come a time where he called you and put a person named Jay on the phone?
Nisha: Yes.
KU: Would you please tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what that conversation consisted of?
Nisha: It’s a little hard to recall, but I remember him telling me that Jay invited him over to a video store that he worked at and he basically, well Adnan walked in with the cell phone and then he said, like he told me to speak with Jay and I was like okay, because Jay wanted to say hi, so I said hi to Jay and that’s all I can really recall.
KU: And did you recognize the voice of the Defendant on that phone call?
Nisha: Yes.
KU: And about how long was the conversation?
Nisha: I wouldn’t say it was that long. Maybe a couple minutes or so. It could be —
KU: About what time of day did that occur?
Nisha: I would think towards the evening, but I can’t be exactly sure.
KU: Can you remember the day that that phone call occurred today?
Nisha: No, I can’t exactly remember the day, but I know it was some time in January. (12/10/99 Tr. 27-28.)

So Nisha thinks it was “some time in January,” but her memory of the phone call with Jay is linked not to a specific date, but to an event, Adnan walking into the video store where Jay worked. There is a conflict here, though, as Jay’s first day working at the porn store was on January 31st — when he worked the midnight shift. As it is unlikely that Adnan would be walking into Jay’s store in the middle of the night, let alone calling Nisha at that time, this cannot be when the phone call that Nisha remembers occurred.

In the second trial, Nisha gave consistent testimony on these same key facts: that the call had occurred when Jay invited Adnan to come to the video store where he worked, and that the call took place ‘towards the evening.’

KU: Now, did there ever come a time when the defendant called you and put a person he identified as Jay on the line?
Nisha: Yes.
KU: Please tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what that call consisted of?
Nisha: Basically, Jay had asked him to come to an adult video store that he worked at.
KU: No, don’t — tell us what the defendant told you? Tell us the content of the call?
Nisha: Okay. He just asked me how I was doing?
KU: When you say “he,” who do you mean?
Nisha: Adnan.
KU: Okay.
Nisha: And then he put his phone – – put his friend Jay on the line, and he basically asked the same question.
KU: And he described him as his friend Jay?
Nisha: Yes.
KU: Do you have any independent recollection of when that call occurred?
Nisha: I can’t remember the exact date.
KU: And about how long did that call take?
Nisha: I would say, like, a minute or so.
KU: Okay. Now, —
Nisha: It was not that long.
KU: — drawing your attention back to the exhibit, line 25, which was a call — do you recall about what time of day that that call occurred?
Nisha: The one on – – yeah, I think it was in the evening time. (1/28/00 Tr. 189-191.)

Moreover, at the second trial, Nisha backed away from her previous claim that the call had been made “some time in January,” stating instead that the call could have happened any time up until Adnan’s arrest on February 28th:

CG: And you don’t recall when that conversation took place?
Nisha: No.
CG: So it could have been the 13th or it could have been any other day from the NewYear’s party all the way up until Mr. Syed’s arrest on February 28th?
Nisha: Yes. (Id. 202-203.)

Although the February 14th call is longer than the call Nisha remembered (10 minutes, 14 seconds vs. 2 minutes, 22 seconds), the length of that call is a much better match to Jay’s memory of the Nisha call — which he says “was a pretty long conversation, maybe like 7 – 8 minutes, 10 minutes, something like that” (Int.2 at 18).  Accordingly, whatever the 3:32 p.m. call on January 13th really was — be it a butt dial or an intentional phone call — the evidence does not support the prosecution’s contention that it was the same phone call that Nisha remembered, and  testified about at both trials.

Moreover, the January 13th phone call, which occurred at 3:32 p.m., is not consistent with all of the other phone calls made to Nisha from Adnan’s phone. Aside from that single phone call, Adnan never once called her before 7 p.m. on school day, as shown from the following table of all phone calls made to Nisha from Adnan’s phone from January 12th through February 17th:

Date Time Duration Tower
January 12 (Tuesday) 7:33 p.m. 1 min 50 sec L651C
January 12 (Tuesday) 9:14 p.m. 1 min 1 sec L651B
January 12 (Tuesday) 11:05 p.m. 36 sec L651C
January 13 (Wednesday) 3:32 p.m. 2 min 22 sec L651C
January 13 (Wednesday) 9:01 p.m. 1 min 24 sec L651C
January 13 (Wednesday) 9:57 p.m. 24 sec L651C
January 14 (Thurs./snow day) 1:44 p.m. 15 min 49 sec L698B
January 16 (Saturday) 2:18 p.m. 2 min 33 sec L604C
January 24 (Sunday) 1:11 p.m. 16 min 29 sec L651C
January 30 (Saturday) 8:19 p.m. 42 min 31 sec L651C
January 30 (Saturday) 9:25 p.m. 28 sec L651C
January 31 (Sunday) 1:27 p.m. 31 min 40 sec L651C
February 1 (Monday) 9:22 p.m. 58 sec L651C
February 2 (Tuesday) 9:16 p.m. 1 min 44 sec L651C
February 8 (Monday) 8:53 p.m. 18 sec L651C
February 14 (Sunday) 7:17 p.m. 10 min 14 sec L608C

Other than January 13th, the only weekday on which Adnan’s phone ever called Nisha before 7 p.m. was on Thursday, January 14th. However, that day was not a school day. Due to the storms that hit Maryland early on the morning of January 14th, neither Adnan nor Nisha would have been in school that day. Although I do not know what school Nisha attended, she lived in Silver Spring, which was also affected badly by the storm. According to one court filing I found, schools in PG County (adjacent to Silver Spring) was shut down for both the 14th and the 15th:

On Thursday, January 14, 1999, Mr. Brooks made arrangements with the Court to hear at 8:45 a.m. on Friday, January 15, 1999, his motion to restrain and enjoin [Council’s] proposed 9:30 a.m. sale of even date. On the afternoon of January 14, 1999, Mr. Brooks advised Mr. Emig that said hearing had been set. However, as a result of the ice storm which occurred on January 14th and 15th (resulting in power outages and school closings both days), Mr. Brooks suffered electrical power `brown outs’ that caused the loss of both the proposed orders and extensive corrections to said motion which had been entered into Mr. Brooks’ word processor.

This leaves the January 13th call as the only call Adnan’s phone ever made to Nisha before 7:30 p.m. on a school day — and this break from the normal calling pattern further supports that the 3:32 p.m. call on January 13th was not an actual conversation between Adnan and Nisha, as Nisha likely would not even have been home at that time.

Why Adnan Got a Cellphone

In addition to obtaining the call records for Adnan’s cellphone, investigators also obtained phone records for Adnan’s home phone line. Those records give a good indication as to why Adnan suddenly decided to buy a cellphone on January 11th, 1999: Nisha.

Adnan and Nisha met one another at a New Years Eve party. The records from Adnan’s home phone show that,  during the first two weeks of January, the two of them spoke frequently:

Nisha Calls - Home Phone

Call records for the Syed residence.

So frequently, in fact, that Adnan managed to rack up  $45.50 in long-distance charges in just ten days, all from calls he had made to Nisha. Which his parents would see when they paid the phone bill. At $37 a month, a cellphone plan was a whole lot cheaper, and a whole lot more private.

It is also worth noting that the call records from Adnan’s home phone confirm that, on school days, Adnan’s calls to Nisha occurred exclusively in the evenings.

The Crown Gas Station Receipt

One of the items recovered from the trunk of Hae’s car was a receipt from a Crown gas station in eastern Baltimore:

Crown Gas Station Receipt - Evidence List

Although the date on the receipt was illegible, Hae’s bank records show that the transaction at the Crown gas station — for a $1.71 purchase — had a post date of January 13, 1999, the same day that Hae was murdered. As Hae would not have had an opportunity to make a purchase from that gas station on January 13th,  there has been a great deal of theorizing about whether the Crown gas station receipt was connected to Hae’s murder, and perhaps represented a purchase made by her killer.

It wasn’t. A review of Hae’s bank statements shows that the “date posted” for purchases made on Hae’s check card is not the same as the data of the underlying transaction. In addition to the “date posted,” the actual date of each purchase is listed separately, under the “transaction” column. Just like the receipt for the $10.00 withdrawal on 1/10/99 shows a posted date of 1/11/99, but a transaction date of 1/11/99, that the transaction at the Crown gas station shows a posted date of 1/13/99, but a transaction date of 1/11/99.

Bank Records - Nationsbank Check Card

And a quick side note, in regards to the quoted section from the evidence review transcript, above: this is the only confirmation that Hae’s purse had been left in her car. During the evidence review session, investigators noted that two of the items in evidence — hand lotion and a bottle of perfume — were found in Hae’s purse (which the transcript here described as being found in her trunk, although other sources place the purse in the back seat of her car instead). This is inconsistent with Jay’s statement from his first police interview, in which he told the detectives that Adnan had taken Hae’s purse with him after abandoning her car off Edgewood:

After he moved it to the second spot then he got out the car and acted like he was carrying her purse and her wallet and he had some other stuff in his hand and ah. (Int.1 at 19.)

Was Adnan only pretending when he “acted like he was carrying [Hae’s] purse,” since he didn’t actually carry it out of her car? What was he doing, pretending to wear high heels and prancing about as if he was holding an imaginary purse in his hands?

Yaser and Adnan Never Spoke on January 13, 1999

At trial, Adnan’s friend Yaser testified that he did not recall speaking to Adnan on January 13th, even though Adnan’s phone records show two calls to Yaser that day: one at 6:59 p.m. (27 seconds) and 10:02 p.m. (7 seconds).

It turns out the reason Yaser does not remember speaking to Adnan is because he didn’t. Yaser is one of only three witnesses for whom the investigators subpoenaed call records (all other phones were either not investigated at all, or only subscriber data was requested). Yaser’s cellphone records show that he received no incoming calls at either of the times that As Adnan’s phone plan billed from “send to end,” the call times for the two calls to Yaser on the 13th represent the time the phone spent ringing, and not the time of any connection between the two lines.

Yaser - Phone Record

During the Missing Person Investigation, Baltimore County Police Did Suspect a Link Between Hae’s Disappearance and the Murder of Jada Lambert

Less than a year prior to Hae’s death, in April of 1998, another 18-year-old woman from Woodlawn disappeared while driving to work. Jada Lambert (who was apparently — although unconfirmed — was class of 1998 at Woodlawn) was last seen in her car driving to the mall. Her body was found in a park five days later:

The woman found strangled in a Northeast Baltimore stream Friday was identified yesterday as an 18-year-old from Woodlawn, city police said.

Homicide Detective Oscar Requer said the victim, Jada Denita Lambert, was last reported seen about 8 a.m. Thursday when she left her home in the 6400 block of Woodgreen Circle for Mondawmin Mall, where she was to get a state identification card before starting a job at Chemlawn.

Although the body was fully clothed, Requer said much of the woman’s personal property was missing when she was found by police acting on an anonymous tip to 911.

In 2003, Roy Sharonnie Davis was convicted of her murder, after a DNA match was made in the Maryland DNA database:

A 911 call led police to Herring Run Park in Northeast Baltimore, where they found Lambert’s body in a stream, according to the prosecutor’s office. The teenager had been raped and strangled.

“They didn’t have a clue as to who did this,” May said.

In 2000, Davis was sentenced for an armed robbery, and two years later a Maryland state police computerized DNA index matched a sample from a swab taken from Lambert’s body with DNA obtained from Davis when he was incarcerated, May said. A blood sample confirmed the match.

At one point, Lambert and Davis lived a block from each other on Woodgreen Circle.

The eerie parallels to Hae’s murder are obvious, and there was speculation of a connection by the media when Hae’s body was found in Leakin Park:

Authorities would not say whether they are investigating a link between Lee’s death and last year’s strangulation of Jada Denita Lambert, an 18-year-old Woodlawn woman whose body was found in May in a stream in Northeast Baltimore.

Lambert disappeared while driving to work at Mondawmin Mall. No arrest has been made in the case.

Although there is no indication that the murder investigation led by the Baltimore Police Department ever considered a possible link between the murder of Hae Lee and the murder of Jada Lambert, the existence of a possible connection was considered by the Baltimore County Police, during the missing persons investigation. The following map, which was included in the files from Baltimore County concerning the investigation into Hae’s disappearance, has three areas circled: Woodlawn High School, Woodgreen Circle, and Campfield Early Learning Center:

MPIA Map - Map 33

(As a side note, this map appears to identical to the one torn out of the map book in Hae’s car. You can see that it covers far more than Leakin Park.)

Woodlawn High School was where Hae was last seen, and Campfield Early Learning Center was believed to be her destination — and directly in between those two locations is Woodgreen Circle, where Jada Lambert had lived, and where she had last been seen driving off to work before her disappearance. Evidently, prior to Hae’s body being discovered, Baltimore County officers were looking into whether there could have been a connection with the Lambert case, because Hae was believed to have been driving in the exact same area that Lambert had disappeared from ten months earlier.

Although Roy Sharonnie Davis was not a suspect in Lambert’s murder at the time of Hae’s death, it is worth noting that, as of January 1999, he lived off of Liberty Road, not far off from where the “26” is circled on this map.

Adnan’s Track Coach Saw Adnan at Track Practice at 3:30 p.m on January 13, 1999

According to Adnan, after last bell at 2:15 p.m. on January 13th, he went to the library and then headed to track practice. The prosecution’s theory of the case was that Adnan had instead, somehow, gotten into Hae’s car (without any witnesses seeing him, despite the hundreds of kids streaming out of the school building), killed her by 2:36 p.m., and then spent a couple hours driving around west Baltimore with Jay before heading to track practice. The exact time that the prosecution alleged Adnan was at track is unclear — according to Jay, Adnan went to track practice from about 5pm to 6:45 p.m. (first interview), from about 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. (second interview), or from about 4:30 to 4:58 p.m. But all of Jay’s many stories do agree that Adnan was very late for track practice that day. In Jay’s second interview, he even told the detectives that Adnan “had to run a lot” and that he “was late” getting to practice:

MacGillivary: Did he talk about any anything that he had
to do with practice?
Jay: He just said he had to run a lot.
MacGillivary: He had to run?
Jay: Yeah and that he was late.
MacGillivary: He was late?
Jay: Um-hum.
MacGillivary: Getting there?
Jay: Yes. (Int.2 at 25.)

Adnan’s track coach, Michael Sye, remembered something different. He told the police that track practice began at 3:30 p.m. and was “usually over at 5:30 p.m.,” and that, on January 13th, Adnan had been “there on time, left on time.” At both trials, Inez Butler gave similar testimony, noting that “[t]rack practice would start after study hall, and study hall started from 2:15 to 3:00, and they had to be at practice at least by 3:30” (2/04/00 Tr. 14-15). Becky similarly told the police that Adnan had to be at practice on time, or else Coach Russell “would be really upset”:

Becky - Notes - Late to Track Practice 330pm

Becky did not give a precise start time for track practice, but said that “track usually started before [ ] approximately 3:30.”

Another track coach, Coach Graham, told the police that she could not remember if Adnan had been at practice on “that exact day,” but that she thought Coach Russell or Coach Sye might have been working with him on January 13th. She also provided study hall hours as from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., although noted that because of his GPA, Adnan would not have needed to sign in or out:

Police Notes on Sye

Coach Sye specifically recalled Adnan being at track that day because they had a conversation about Ramadan during warm-up. His police statement — which corroborates Adnan’s alibi — seems to have been overlooked because in his statement to the police, he did not specifically recall that his conversation with Adnan had taken place on the 13th. However, the practice that Sye remembers could only have been on January 13th. There is no other day that Coach Sye could possibly have been referring to.

When the detectives came to talk to Coach Sye on March 23, 1999, Coach Sye told the police that, during Ramadan, Adnan would not participate in a full practice with the other athletes, since Adnan was fasting during the day, but he did attend practices, and would go on a jog around the track. He also told them about the following about the conversation with Adnan at practice one day — which Coach Sye had initiated — while Adnan was stretching at the track:

Coach Sye - Statement

So according to Coach Sye, this conversation took place: (1) in January, towards the end of Ramadan; and (2) when the weather was “in the 50’s.” Coach Sye was very clear that what he remembers was a “warm day” conversation. That year, Ramadan had begun on December 23, 1998, and the last school day before the end of Ramadan was January 15, 1999. During the last two weeks of Ramadan, there were only two days on which the temperature went above 40 degrees, and which Coach Sye’s memory could have been referring to:

Date Weather
Friday, January 15 School cancelled due to weather
Thursday, January 14 School cancelled due to weather
Wednesday, January 13 Max temp: 57 degrees
Tuesday, January 12 Max temp: 53 degrees
Monday, January 11 Max temp: 28 degrees
Friday, January 8 School cancelled due to weather
Thursday, January 7 Max temp: 35 degrees
Wednesday, January 6 Max temp: 34 degrees
Tuesday, January 5 Max temp: 26 degrees
Monday, January 4 Max temp: 30 degrees

Based on the weather records, both January 12 and January 13 could fit Coach Sye’s memory of the day in question. It turns out, however, that the day Coach Sye had his conversation with Adnan could not have occurred on January 12th — because the Woodlawn track team had a meet that day, and Adnan and Coach Sye would not have been at practice.

BCPS Relay Event

(And in case there is any doubt that Woodlawn’s track team did attend the Baltimore County Relays, where they took first place.)

Adnan himself remembered this conversation as well, and told his attorney that “he believes he attended track practice on [January 13th] because he remembers informing his coach that he had to lead prayers on Thursday.” Which means that Adnan’s track practice alibi is confirmed by a reliable, unbiased witness. Unless you believe that Jay Wilds was a more reliable witness than Coach Sye, there is no reason to think that Adnan was anywhere but a track practice on January 13th.

Although Adnan’s defense recognized Coach Sye was a potentially important witness for Adnan, they never recognized the significant of his memory of the Ramadan conversation. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the prosecution failed to provide the defense with any of the witness notes from March 23rd, including the notes of Coach Sye’s statement — which means the defense never knew about his recollection of having a “warm day conversation” with Adnan. His testimony also changed from his prior police statements, and he stated that “[p]ractice was every day after school, after their study hall, from [ a]pproximately 4:00 to 5:30, 6” (2/23/00 Tr. 101). The defense failed to ever question Coach Sye about the prior statements from Coach Graham, Becky, Inez Butler — and his own prior statements — all of which stated that players were to be at track after study hall, which ended at 3:15 pm.

Mr. B Saw Adnan at the Mosque on the Evening of January 13, 1999

In addition to Asia McClain and Coach Sye — who verified, respectively, Adnan’s presence at the library and at track practice that afternoon — there was a third alibi witness who verified Adnan’s presence at the mosque that evening. That witness was the infamous Mr. B — the same witness whom Jay claimed had “pled the fifth” when testifying before the grand jury:

I know that during the grand jury there was a spiritual leader of the mosque – I don’t know how to pronounce his name. Something with a B [ed. note: We’ll refer to this person as Mr. B.]. He spoke with the police during the investigation. But when he was called to the grand jury, he pled the fifth [amendment, against self incrimination through testimony]. So that whatever he knew about Adnan, he knew that if he said it in court he could also be in trouble.

Jay was wrong about Mr. B pleading the fifth in his grand jury testimony; that didn’t happen. But Jay was absolutely right when he said that “whatever [Mr. B] knew about Adnan, he knew that if he said it in court he could also be in trouble.”

Mr. B testified before the grand jury that on the evening of January 13th, Adnan was at the mosque, not in Leakin Park burying Hae’s body. Mr. B stated that he had been with Adnan that evening, helping Adnan prepare for prayers that he was going to be leading at the mosque the following day:

Mr. B - Grand Jury TestimonyMr. B - Grand Jury Testimony 2

Mr. B would have been a valuable witness for Adnan — he could have verified that Adnan was at the mosque that evening, acting normally, and not covered in mud from a sojourn into Leakin Park. So why didn’t he testify at trial? Well, just like Jay predicted, there was trouble.

Mr. B’s last day of testimony before the Grand Jury was on March 30, 1999. Immediately afterwards, Mr. B became a subject of intense scrutiny for investigators, who subpoenaed his call records on April 13th. In fact, Ritz and MacGillivary even got the Drug Enforcement Agency involved in their investigation into Mr. B:

Mr. B - DEA Subpoena

Even Urick took a special interest in Mr. B, singling him out as an “important witness,” and requesting meetings to further discuss his expected testimony:

Mr. B - Urick Letter

It is unclear what was discussed during the meeting between Mr. B and Urick, but it does seem, based on what happened next, that Urick didn’t like what Mr. B had to tell him. On the morning of Adnan’s scheduled trial date of October 14, 1999, Mr. B was arrested and charged with a sex offense:

Amended Disclosure - 10-4-99

What convenient timing, for Urick. What are the odds that Adnan’s alibi witness would just happen to have been arrested on the morning of his trial date? (Although the defense had filed a motion for a continuance by that point, the prosecution had opposed it, and it was not known until the afternoon of October 14th that the trial would be rescheduled to a later date.) And what are the odds that Urick — a Baltimore City prosecutor with the Narcotics Division — would just happen to have received an update from Baltimore County Police about Mr. B’s arrest?

As close to zero as makes no difference, by my book. It is also telling that this disclosure was the only occasion on which Urick produced evidence to the defense on the same day he became aware of its existence. Moreover, it is also the only disclosure I have seen in which the word “Brady” is ever mentioned. Urick believed that Mr. B’s arrest constituted Brady material, but Jay’s multitude of conflicting statements did not? That Jenn’s statements were not material to Adnan’s guilt or innocence? That the cell expert’s testing methodology was not something the prosecution was required to disclose? Urick’s definition of “Brady” was a constitutional joke.

Whatever the factual circumstances leading to Mr. B’s arrest, however, there was apparently insufficient grounds to justify actually charging him with any offense:

Mr. B not charged

Mr. B did not attend with of Adnan’s trials, nor was he called as a witness by either side. This was a notable departure from his previous activity. On the day of Adnan’s arrest, Mr. B had led the charge in coordinating Adnan’s defense, working the phones throughout the day in order to secure defense counsel for Adnan and to attempt to allow that attorney, Doug Colbert, to get access to Adnan during his six-hour interrogation. Mr. B was also involved in fundraising activities on Adnan’s behalf. There is no indication whatsoever that Mr. B had any testimony to give that was favorable to the prosecution — from the day of Adnan’s arrest until the day of Mr. B’s arrest, Mr. B was an important part of the defense’s case.

After the October 14th arrest, however, Mr. B dropped out of the picture completely. He distanced himself from everything having to do with Adnan’s case. Whether due to the risk of Mr. B’s impeachment, Mr. B’s change of heart about his testimony, or some other factor, Mr. B was ultimately not called as a witness at trial. But Mr. B could have testified — and did testify before the grand jury — that he had seen Adnan at the mosque that night, just as Adnan had said. As with the library and track practice, however, Adnan’s “bad luck” was not that he lacked an alibi witness who could corroborate that he was at the mosque. Adnan’s bad luck was that he had those alibi witnesses, but the jury was deprived of any opportunity to hear what they had to say.

-Susan

114 thoughts on “Serial: Phone Records, Bank Records, and Alibi Witnesses

        • Going back and reading the KU interview with NV :
          My favorite quote on why CG didn’t call anyone from the list of 80 alibi’s she initially submitted:
          “Defense attorneys aren’t allowed to give [fabricated evidence] ”

          “The defense gave a list of about eighty names stating that these were witnesses that were going to testify that Syed was at the mosque because it was Ramadan. He was praying all evening and that’s where he was [Ed. note: We have corrected this in the introduction]. If they called those eighty witnesses, they would’ve obviously been testifying falsely, because the cellphone records in conjunction with all the evidence we gathered about the cellphone towers, who made the calls, who received them, place him everywhere but at the mosque. The best defense an attorney can put on is the defense the client is telling them. But attorneys still are not supposed to put on fabricated evidence. And that would’ve been fabricated evidence. And I think once Gutierrez recognized that fact, she did not put it on. Which I think was the right call for her. As a practical attorney, I think she also would’ve realized that it was so easily disprovable that the jury would’ve just been sort of disgusted at the attempt to put it on. But she clearly made the decision not to put it on. She made the right call. And I think on big issues of ethics, I think Cristina acted the right way. She would argue anything she could. But defense attorneys aren’t allowed to [use fabricated evidence]. “

          • Except Urick was lying about the 80 witnesses being prepared to commit perjury. The letter from CG to KU about the witnesses is on the Intercept page of KU’s interview and it states, in so many words, that the Defence has identified 80 potential witnesses from throughout the day of Hae’s disappearance who, although they can’t specifically recall seeing Adnan at track practice or the mosque would have noticed his absence. So, far from 80 witnesses being prepared fabricate evidence and lie that they saw Adnan at the mosque, as KU implies, there were 80 potential witnesses who could, circumstantially, support his claims about his movements on that day. Once again, shame on KU.

  1. Thanks for blowing the “bad luck” riff from the podcast to smithereens. I hated how it cast aspersions on his innocence yet had no factual basis. Just like the states case.

  2. Mr B, as a potential alibi witness, does potentially fit into the CG problem since he wasn’t called as a defense witness. They had his Grand Jury testimony (maybe not usable if secret) but his arrest had insufficient cause. Couldn’t he have been called even if arrested Susan?

    • Honestly, we probably won’t ever know if CG decided to not call Mr. B for 2nd trial. Or she thought she can just “swing it”. I seriously doubt Urick can pull the same trick twice, if it was a trick.

        • Isn’t that what his taking the fifth was about? Waiving his right to have cg as his attorney so she could represent Adnan….sorry if I have the term wrong (taking the 5th?) I’m from the UK. Pretty sure it was something like that tho I can no longer remember where I read that.

          • The 5th Amendment, among other things, states that an individual has a right to silence and to not self-incriminate in testimony – basically, a person has a right to say nothing for their own self-interest (tho a court can overrule this with subpoena and sealed testimony, depending on the situation). Taking the 5th generally means a person has declined to give testimony – this could be in entirety or to answer specific questions at trial.

            Jay was trying to imply that Bilal knew something and had participated somehow in the crime with Adnan, and thus “took the 5th” because he didn’t want to self-incriminate at the grand jury. However, this wasn’t true.

          • This Mr. B waiver you posted is really interesting in light of this post.

            It does appear that “police investigating the case” were leaning on Mr. B.

            Here’s the relevant text from his waiver:

            Ms. Gutierrez initially asserted the Fifth Amendment privilege on my behalf, in response to the State’s Grand Jury subpoenas, because police investigating this case suggested that I might be guilty of some crime, a suggestion that I believe has no basis.
            [and later]
            I accept the truth of material factual allegations about me in the State’s legal papers, but not necessarily the conclusions that the State draws from them”

            Here’s a partial list of things that he is admitting to:

            *I gave religious advice to Mr. Syed
            *I explained to Mr. Syed the religious principles of the KORAN and the Prophet concerning friendships between members of the opposite sex
            *I co-signed (with Mr. Syed) a contract for a cell phone for Mr. Syed

            It seems like these are the details that the State is asserting might make him guilty of “some crime”. So, am I inferring correctly from this document that Mr. B was led to believe that they were threatening to charge him with crimes related to Hae’s murder?

            In his hearing on pleading the 5th, ..the State’s Attorney stated that I was not a “target” of any criminal investigation, and that the State does not believe and/or intend to assert, based on any information that it now has, that I am guilty of any crime. I understand “non-target” to mean that the State does not now intend either to bring criminal charges against me or to focus any criminal investigation on me

            So, he testified. And between the time he testified and the time this document was created, the investigators in fact opened an investigation into him (as documented above).

          • Susan Simpson:
            If Bilal was arrested and charged , charges dropped – why am I reading in several places he was charged 6 months later with a 4th degree sexual offense? Who is this person making “claims” against him and — how the heck did they (I assume he/she is underage) come to the surface at the exact time the prosecution needed them? How does Urick seem so well-connected in “certain” circles ? (kschang77 — how DID Jay know about Bilal ?) Did Jay have any other associates/friends at the Mosque ?

            http://www.oag.state.md.us/sexualoffender/understanding.htm

            The penalty for someone convicted of 3rd degree sexual abuse is a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment. The penalty for 4th degree sexual abuse is a maximum fine of $50,000 and a maximum sentence of 5 years.

    • If Urick “got” to him…. and he told CG he could no longer remember anything of value for Adnan, then this probably doesn’t aid the IAC argument.

      If she just didn’t follow up, however, like with Asia, then it definitely does.

      • The way Jay first met Adnan, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/29/exclusive-interview-jay-wilds-star-witness-adnan-syed-serial-case-pt-1/
        How old were you when you first met Adnan Syed?

        ” It was just at the end of my junior year, so about 16. I knew him because I knew Muslims in the community from playing basketball at the mosque ”

        Jay23 – continuing the train of thought above (answering my own question , as well – duh ), but will we ever know did Urick make an idle threat to back Bilal down or was there actually a person who came forward round about this time to make these charges against Bilal . .. if so, those court papers would be on file for the public to see and have copies of (@ 63cents per page). Obviously, I am not a lawyer so I may be missing something huge here. In saying that, was everyone else aware Jay met Adnan through his Muslim connects at the Mosque ? That may answer the question of how Jay knew Bilal …

        Good grief. The more I know , the less I know…
        Thank God for minds like SS.

  3. Susan, do you go to bed with a sick feeling in your stomach some nights, after finding all these details and connecting the dots??

    I really want to know which investigator and or prosecutor had reason to go hard after Adnan to the point of what almost looks like witness tampering to me. Unbelievable.

  4. You’ve turned Urick and his colleagues into anything other than an above – board truth – seeking machine.

    I almost have sympathy for Urick because he’s (allegedly) human… but I have a feeling that you’re dealing with someone that is devoid shame.

  5. Wow, that’s major. You are good.

    However, I still find it hard to believe that Jay, this high school kid, in between the time he’s picking up Adnan, driving around with him, going to McDonalds, getting high, going to Cathy’s, in between all of this, Jay, with split second timing and with no or only minimal preplanning, is murdering Hai, ditching the car, burying the body and leaving no evidence and all the while Adnan is completely oblivious, and even to this day unsuspecting, as to what Jay is up to and Jay is carrying out this brutal murder and cover up with parties unknown and lying to Adnan without so much as batting an eye. The kid had nerves of steel, don’t you think? Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t write a script like this. Jay really missed his calling.

    Sorry. iIt’s just to much to believe. You’re going to have to prove that Jay really had absolutely nothing to do with nor any knowledge of Hai’s murder and that the police just forced him to make the whole thing up.

    • Jay had pretty much nothing going on all day until picking up Adnan from track at 5:30, so let’s say Jay killed Hai at some point before 5:30.

      Then, Jay and Adnan hang out, go to McDonald’s, get high, go to Cathy’s; all that stuff. Remember that at that point, Cathy says that Jay was definitely acting weird. Then Jay drops Adnan off at mosque.

      Now Jay has all night to deal with the body and whatever else. I think Susan pointed out before that the body may not have been buried until late that night or even the next morning.

      • She is sure the body was buried later, yet still carries on about how important it is that Adnan was at the mosque.

        I understand wanting Adnan released to do unfair trial, but Adnan hung out with not-friend Jay the morning and evening of Hae’s death and then the following day at Jay’s place of work when they called Nisha. Everyone who thinks Adnan is 100% innocence has what is called cognitive dissonance.

        • I think Susan is merely trying to show the discrepancy and weakness in Adnan’s case. Also, the call to Nisha at Jay’s place of work did not occur until Feb 14th. not the day following Hae’s murder.

        • “yet still carries on about how important it is that Adnan was at the mosque”

          By providing alibi for this critical piece of time, two things are accomplished. First, it becomes quite apparent that a credible mosque alibi eliminates the possibility that Adnan was burying a body in Leakin Park at the time the state contends that he was in fact burying a body in Leakin Park. Second, by stringing together a host of alibis (whats the plural of alibi?!), it becomes irrelevant from the perspective of defending Adnan what time the burial happened. Proving a later burial time, if nothing else, shows additionally how flawed the prosecution’s theory of the case is. With this sort of two pronged approach, a defense attorney can say “Look, the kid couldn’t have even been where you said he was. He was at the library and then at track when you say he was out killing this girl. Then, he was at the mosque when you say he was out burying her. Furthermore, a correct look at the forensics shows that she wasn’t even buried at the time that you say she was. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, i’m beginning to think that the prosecution doesn’t know…anything at all. And in case you want to get funny here and contend that my client had something to do with the murder no matter what time it happened, lets recall that he had absolutely no motive and there is absolutely no physical evidence linking him to the crime. The defense rests.”

          Also, cognitive dissonance describes a state of distress that an individual experiences when they encounter mental inconsistencies. You could say something like “John is experiencing cognitive dissonance because he believes Adnan is innocent but the evidence suggests otherwise.” I would wager that there if there is any cognitive dissonance among Adnan supporters it is because they experience something to the effect of: “a preponderance of evidence suggests that Adnan had nothing to do with this crime, yet he has been imprisoned for it.”

          Is there some non-circumstantial evidence you would like to coherently present that would cause Adnan supporters to experience the kind of cognitive dissonance you are referring to? In other words, would you care to introduce damaging evidence that makes me uncomfortable when I consider his innocence?

          • Right on! I think the cognitive dissonance, for those actually familiar with the case (many on here seem like they’ve never even listened to the podcast, let alone read many of The posts on this blog, since they continue to mess up the details), is people who believe our justice system is nearly 100% perfect. THEY have a hard time believing a teenage boy could have been convicted of this crime without having had anything to do with it, because it doesn’t jive with their beliefs about the justice system, despite overwhelming evidence (proof?) that the prosecution’s case was a mess and they did some dirty things to “win.”
            Amazing job, Susan! I was so disappointed in the MSNBC interview b/c it was obvious you all had interesting things to share even for those of us who follow you and Rabia and yet it was a horrible mashed up mess because of the interviewer. Well, I should say in all fairness she probably isn’t a bad interviewer, it’s what to expect from those kinds of news outlets…they are all like that. They want sound bites, excitement, drama! When you listen to good radio podcasts, that style of interviewing can be overwhelming!

          • It is interesting and horrifying to see the reactions to each new piece of evidence that comes out concerning the timeline. It’s a perfect example, really, of how utterly meaningless the timeline was, and is. Unless Adnan could find a single witness who could verify his exact location from 2:20 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the prosecution could simply change its story and find a new way for Adnan to have done it. Based on what was going on at the time (hanging out after school before track), the existence of such an alibi was remote, and it turns out that there wasn’t one.

            The temporal indeterminacy of the state’s case is a symptom of how devoid of evidence the state’s case really was. If the prosecution had persuasive evidence of Adnan’s guilt, they would have been limited to bringing a case based upon that evidence. They couldn’t change the timeline willy-nilly, because it would have destroyed the rest of the case they did have! But the prosecution had no such problems here. No matter what evidence comes forward to disprove their case, they rearrange the pieces into a new fairy tale.

            Call it the “Adnan of the gaps” argument — Adnan’s guilt can be shoved into any gap that can’t be conclusively disproven.

          • Susan – it seems to me like the “temporal indeterminancy” (great term!) of the state’s case could only lead to a conviction because testimony from witnesses who saw Adnan that afternoon wasn’t heard by the jury and testimony from witnesses who did see Hae up until 3 pm wasn’t really highlighted (wouldn’t this be something an effective counsel would do at closing?). It might help me and other readers if you put together a timeline graphic showing what the most credible evidence shows about the whereabouts of Hae and Adnan that afternoon. I suspect it will show that there really was no window for Adnan to commit this crime until well after Hae was known to be missing.

    • But what about Phil and Patrick? Since no one talked to them (that we have proof of) how can we say that Jay didn’t have help from them?

    • I’m curious as to why you leap from a discussion of data to a discussion of guilt.

      No matter what your opinion on Susan’s bias, this is mostly a post about pieces of evidence – evidence that (to a large extent) both sides have been grappling with. (The receipt, for example, has featured in god-knows-how-many scenarios thus far; the fact that Adnan bought the cell phone to talk to Nisha is probably irrelevant to everything, but it’s still explains one detail about the story that people have speculated about.) The fact that the evidence itself mostly leans towards Adnan’s innocence is essentially irrelevant in this case.

      I’ve got my opinions, but I’m not sure why you’d simply want to dismiss a rather detail-oriented explanation of some of the bits of evidence people have been pouring over – nor, for that matter, why you’d believe that examining some of these details might *not* be a stepping block leading to an ultimate explanation.

  6. Its either of the 2:
    1. Jay killed or was directly involved with the murder . For reasons quite unimaginable at this point.

    2. The police knew who the real killer was and hence knew the location of the vehicle. Then FORCED Jay into basically lying/framing Adnan

    Soo if you guys are able to somehow prove either of those 2 scenarios with actual evidence, this is the only plausible way AS is innocent.

    • I don’t see how your point #2 is a given, or even likely. for #2 is more likely that the police fed Jay enough info to somewhat convincingly accuse Adnan of the murder. Then the prosecutors took it from there.

      • In other words, they did not know who the real killer was, but suspected it was Adnan, and were eager to run with that theory.

        • If what you’re saying is correct, that falls back into scenario #1aka how Jay was able to tell the police where Hae’s vehicle was located. Soo same thing.

          • There’s weird shit about the car though. Deirdre Enright of the Innocence Project clinic said she thought the police found the car before Hae’s body was discovered and a new release about Adnan’s arrest also talks about the police knowing where the car was but keeping those details from the general public.

          • Hi Sue could you say where the Deirdre Enright comment is and the press release. Thanks.

          • Sure Lizzie

            Here’s the youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkUhKIuawTQ

            Right at the start the presenter says, “Police now reveal that 18-year-old Hae Min Lee died of strangulation, and that they discovered her 1998 Nissan Sentra a short distance from where her killer attempted to bury her body in a shallow grave in Leakin Park, key details they had withheld as they sought out a suspect.”

            Deirdre Enright is being interviewed by the beautifully named Coy Barefoot: http://insidecville.com/city/enright-1-5-14/

            About 6 minutes in Deirdre says, “She’s found, I believe they found her car first…”

            There is also the confusion at trial – did Jay take them straight to the car? Jay seems to be saying he told them the wrong place but took them to the right place but it’s hard to be sure. The cops say he just took them to the wrong place.

            And of course the mysterious broken turn lever. Adnan drove a car with the windshield washer on the right lever (like most US cars), and also like Hae’s car – a car he drove sometimes too. He would never have told Jay that the left selector switch was the windshield washer, so who did? Did Jay get it wrong Did the cops if they fed that info to Jay? or an unknown third party told Jay the wrong lever? See EvidenceProfessors Blog for more info on this.

          • Sorry Lizzie – the cops say he [Jay] took them to the RIGHT place (not the wrong one). The cops are sure but Jay is a bit confused and confusing.

          • Doesn’t Jay’s testimony involve them driving all over town to find a place to ditch the car? Is it possible that this doesn’t reflect efforts to fit the cell phone data but rather reflects the fact that Jay *didn’t* lead the police to the car on the first try?

          • Sue

            No problem with you misspelling my name. I appreciate your help and insightful comments. There are some really intelligent observations from people reading this blog.

    • You do not have to prove his innocence, you just have to prove there is not enough evidence to prove he is guilty. And this whole blog is about 1) what the prosecution claimed happened and 2) the evidence they had to support it. And Susan is blasting their story and their evidence out of the water, with the help of the star witness, Jay, whose story continues to evolve even today. If the prosecution screwed up by making up evidence and coercing a witness into a story that can now be proven to be IMPOSSIBLE to have happened, you don’t NEED another plausible explanation, unless you are trying to justify the wasted life of a man still in prison for a crime it cannot be proven that he committed. If he did it, the state ought to have been able to prove it, with actual evidence, which at the time it looked like they did, but with this blog it is pretty clear they did not. Have you even read the other posts? Personally, I find it disturbing that something like this could happen, to a boy, who so far is in jail based on the ever changing story of one witness, the fact he was the victim’s ex (which is what made them interested in him to begin with), and some creative “evidence” that is now completely debunked.

      • Did YOU read my scenario #2? We are basically saying the exact same thing. If they can bring forth actual evidence (sorry but in a court; speculation does not count) of corruption, then they will be successful.

  7. Another great blog post. I’ve truly have been fascinated with your analysis. I think the part that intrigues me most about this case is the investigation and analysis and following you has allowed me to really dig in to that aspect of it. You truly must have quite devotion to the truth as this is no easy feat and would take incredible time and patience to sift through evidence and documents like these. Adnan is very lucky to have you on his side.

  8. This is the sort of information we would really have hoped Serial would uncover: not just one alibi witness, but three. Timing tactics that smell like witness intimidation. Additional exculpatory information in the phone records. Thank you for your excellent continued analysis.

  9. WTF? I don’t get why prosecutors feel the need to cheat. If they believe in their case, just try the damn thing. I wish I could say that this behavior is rare, but unfortunately it isn’t.
    Susan, I believe your investigation of this case is the ultimate proof of “ineffective assistance”. CG had a large staff and didn’t bother to uncover the facts that you have, never seemingly interviewed crucial witnesses, failure to employ expert witnesses, etc. It seems to me that your investigation is all the appeals court needs to rule in Adnan’s favor. With the evidence you have brought to light, I believe the Jury would have had no choice but to acquit him, too many inconsistencies, too many contradictions and too many lies.

    Secondly, why is not possible that Hae stopped somewhere along her way to pick up her cousin. Just because there is no proof that she did, doesn’t mean she didn’t. She did tell Adnan that she had something to do and therefore couldn’t give him a ride. Obviously, he knew about her obligation to pick up the cousin so to me that says she was saying that she had something else to do. Maybe a stop by a drug store? The head wound is downplayed by most everyone that I have read comments from here and on Reddit. She could have been assaulted by someone at a stop along the way, rendered unconscious, pushed into the car and driven to a location where she was ultimately murdered. I’ve read the testimony of the Medical Examiner and I don’t find that she stated a time frame of the head wound in relation to her death.

    If Hae’s body was placed in the trunk of her car along with the items recovered by the police, i.e. purse, receipts, etc. how is it that no forensic evidence was found on these items. I don’t mean to be crude but dead bodies have a tendency to leak. The body contains a lot of fluid that is retained in the body by muscles. When the muscles cease to function, those fluids are no longer held inside.

  10. You ARE the pit bull on the pant leg of justice!

    Typo in the first paragraph of the “Adnan/Yaser'” seciton. “thought” for “though”.

    Keep it up!

  11. I like how Susan is fleshing out the case better than even Serial could do it. She has enriched our understanding of the facts and details of the case by uncovering a lot that was omitted.

    • you have to remember that Susan is a lawyer who is looking into every details of the case whereas Serial is told from a journalism point of view. BTW Susan, you are doing an amazing job. Thank you for your thoughtful and detail analysis.

  12. Much of the information Susan has brought to light is disturbing , but for me the extensive interview from Coach Sye did me in. Short of him having taken a picture of he and Adnan talking on the day of the murder during the critical hours that was track practice , what else do they need to call him as an alibi ? As well, the only Coach I had previously read about before (as giving testimony) was the one who wasn’t sure if Adnan was at practice that day or not.

  13. The coach says he was at track at 3:30 pm— but that doesn’t mean track started at 3:30 pm. Do you think that they’d give the kids 15 minutes after Study Hall to get changed and onto site.? Others have said that track actually started at 4:00 pm. It’s likley people started arriving between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. In any event, the state’s star witness says he dropped Adnan off at track. So, not sure how this plays into an alibi for the murder window unless a witess says Adnan was on site at 330 pm. No witness is able to confirm the time that Adnan was present. He was not allowed to practice and run due to fasting for Ramadan, but was allowed to jog—making it less likely coach would remember six weeks later what time he showed up on a particular day.

    • Im not so sure about your detective work there, Norm. Read Michael Sye’s testimony that Susan linked to in her post. In there he says:

      – track started at 3:30
      – Adnan arrived on time and left on time
      – the contention seems to be whether or not the coach can pinpoint the specific day that he had a longer-than-usual conversation with Adnan, specifically about Ramadan
      – given the details the coach gave about the type of day it was (warm, not the day of a track meet), Susan concludes that the coach must have been referring to January 13th.

      I’m not sure what you are getting at with “The coach says he was at track at 3:30 pm— but that doesn’t mean track started at 3:30 pm.” Why the discretion between being “at track” and when track actually started? And by the way, study hall was over at 3:00, so 15 minutes would have been quite long enough to get to practice by “at least 3:30pm”, which is when track practice is reported to have begun. Where is this 4:00pm business you speak of?

      • There are various times are given for study hall getting out as well as for track start time by various members of staff at WHS.

        “Coach Graham, told the police that she could not remember if Adnan had been at practice on “that exact day,” but that she thought Coach Russell or Coach Sye might have been working with him on January 13th. She also provided study hall hours as from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.,”

        No coach testified as fact that Adnan was at track practice on the date in question July 13/99. The best anyone could say, is that that they “think” they would have remembered if he were not present. Fellow track participant Will put track practice starting at 4:00 pm. re: track start time: See below post by Jack.

        • Sorry, you didn’t provide any backup to support “various times” being given for track start time specifically. Please provide if you’ve found anything to that effect.

          Regarding fellow track participant Will, I remember that Sarah quoted him in the podcast and the quote was regarding the start time of track practice. I don’t remember what he said though. Even so, I’d be quite a bit less inclined to pin the start time for practice on his word over the policy being described by the coaches, especially since it was quoted that one of the coaches would have been “really angry” if someone showed up late. Thus, it doesn’t sound like the type of atmosphere where kids were allowed to saunter on up to practice whenever they pleased and evade the ire of a coach or coaches. It sounds like 3:30pm is 3:30pm is 3:30pm, as my high school principal would say.

    • As someone who did track and x-country, typically the first half hour of practice was warming up and stretching, giving everyone time to change and get out. After a half hour of stretching and warming up, actual practice would start. For example, if school ended at 3, practice “started” at 3:15, but nobody was actually out running until 3:45 or so.

      • I updated the post to reflect Sye’s trial testimony. I usually try and limit my comments to the publicly released transcripts, but it’s important here and should have been included. At trial, Sye says that practice was 4-5:30/6, but also repeats that it began after study hall. Inez and Becky both stated that players were expected to be there by 3:30 pm, and Coach Graham states they are supposed to be there after study hall at 3:15. Coach Sye’s initial statement provides the same — his testimony at trial was the first indication of a different time for practice. Based on the police files, the police themselves were working off of the 3:30 timeline. Part of the confusion comes from you’re describing — unlike, say, soccer, where everyone starts at a given time, my experience with track is the same as yours.

        Sye’s testimony itself is pretty much contentless. This is likely because the notes of Sye’s police statement come from the police files, and there is no indication that they were ever provided to the defense — the defense had no idea of the “warm day conversation,” or about his prior statements concerning track practice.

  14. Question for Susan and a comment.

    Question: How would the prosecution have likely gone about trying to discredit Michael Sye as an alibi witness should he have been called? Lets pretend the defense had done the work you did here. They would have deduced for Sye that his conversation took place on January 13th, which seems only second best to Sye having deduced it for himself. In an ideal world, I’m guessing that Sye says initially “yeah, he was at track that day, the whole time, because i remember having a conversation with him. I remember that the conversation happened on the 13th specifically because the conversation happened on an unusually warm day, and the 13th was the only unusually warm day in that time period where we actually had practice.” Instead, he says “there was a conversation, but I don’t remember which day”, and the defense would most likely question him in such a way that they deduce for the jury that it was in fact the 13th: “and it was a warm day when you had this conversation, was it NAWWWWT? and there was only one warm day in that time period that you had practice, did you NAWWWWT?” How would a shrewd prosecutor have gone about assailing his testimony and the defense’s deduction so as to bring doubt into the juror’s minds? **If this guy was anything like my high school track coach, the prosecutor would have gone running out the door whimpering with his tail between his legs by the time he was done with cross examination**

    Comment: This is the first post that made me mentally uncomfortable. I’m fine with talk of lividity, rigor mortis, and probably too fine with talk of murder methods. But what makes my heart sink is looking at the bank account details and seeing the empty that happens after 1/13/99 up until that lonely service fee on the 27th. All of a sudden when someone is gone, all these little ripples and waves we are constantly making in the digital world sort of die out, and its just a really sad, eerie reminder of the void that someone leaves when they exit the world. sigh.

    • The tragedy of this murder is that in its execution, two lives were squandered. One through an act of violence, the other through miscarriage of justice.

      And the murderer can kill again.

  15. First of all, great blog, as usual.

    Secondly, with SO much additional information uncovered that is unrelated to the actual appeal attempt happening, is there any way that all of that info could be used in some other way?

    I’m thinking specifically of the West Memphis Three and the events leading to their eventual release.

  16. Susan – do you find any significance to the heart charm with the price tag that was found in Hae’s glove compartment?

  17. If i am ever in trouble you will be the only lawyer I want on my side. This was an excellent post. You deserve a podcast!

  18. I’m a little confused, was the first trial in January 1999 and the second trial in December 1999? If so there seems there is something a bit awry about the dates given in your blog for Nisha’s testimonies.

    The date for what you say was her testimony in the first trial is listed as (12/10/99 Tr. 27-28.)

    Then the date for what you say was her slightly altered testimony in the second trial is listed as (1/28/99 Tr. 189-191.)

    If there is something wrong here does it affect your argument at all? If it doesn’t then I’m sorry for being nit-picky and please ignore my comments. I think all your blogs are brilliant.

  19. I have thought for a long time that neither Jay nor Adnan were involved in this crime. Jay lies. He lies for one of two reasons, protecting himself or someone else, OR because he has no idea what happened. I’ve gone back and forth on which is true, but now seeing that there was yet another serial killer in the area, (In addition to Ronald Lee Moore) I’m starting to think that Jay’s scenarios are completely coached. My reasoning: 1) if you listen to the questioning of Jay by the police, he answers too quickly and too eagerly. He sounds like he knows the answer before they ask the question. If you were trying to answer questions that you really didn’t want to answer, you wouldn’t sound quite so eager to do so. You would hesitate, they would yell at you. The whole thing just sounds rehearsed. 2) In reading Jen’s cross-examination I find it hard to believe that she couldn’t remember calls that she received from Jay on the day of the murder. Really? A friend calls you to pick him up and tells you that he witnessed a burial and you have no recollection of that day? I think it more likely that Jay lied to Jen after being coached by the cops and/or had her lie about driving him around and dumping shovels, etc to make it sound like he was involved. Jay was so scared about being arrested for Hae’s murder that he agreed to tell the story to avoid going to jail. 3) I think a serial killer would be more likely to bury a body than two scared kids. I think two scared kids would leave the body in the car and just let it sit — why would they go back to bury her? A serial killer may have other reasons for burying the person he kills. Also, I seem to remember that Hae was buried near a stream….maybe for one reason or another he couldn’t get her all the way there, so settled for the spot by the log. I have heard several of Susan’s interviews and she doesn’t seem to agree with the serial killer being plausible, but the information in this blog post makes a good case. 4) Why would the police not test the physical evidence unless they were afraid of what it would show. There’s just no reason that the evidence wasn’t tested unless the story was made up. I think they thought it was Adnan, but they were afraid that if the DNA showed someone else, they wouldn’t have a case. 5) I don’t think Jay is smart enough to pull the murder off without Adnan knowing and well enough to hide it for 6 weeks. He would have to kill someone, cover it up, frame Adnan with Jen and then lie to the cops. I have an easier time believing that he was just driving around buying and selling drugs that night and when the cops threatened him, he came up with a story and then the police helped him to develop it once they showed him the cell phone records. There’s just no other reason to change the story so much.

    The ONLY thing that makes me question the serial killer theory is Josh’s story about how scared Jay was of the killer. He seemed to have a couple of very vivid memories and didn’t really tie them to Adnan. When SK pressed him about whether he knew it was Adnan that Jay was talking about he kept saying, “yeah, the killer”, like maybe Jay didn’t say that it was Adnan at all. I guess one question is, when did that whole scene with Josh at the video store happen? Did it happen after Jay knew that he was on the cops’ radar? If so, why didn’t he freak out sooner if he was truly afraid of someone. I don’t think he was afraid of Adnan, as he was hanging out with him at the video store talking to Nisha on the phone and when the cops ask him the last time he talked to Adnan he said yesterday in front of my house in his car. What? You’re terrified of someone and you’re going to keep seeing him and meet with him in a car? Just doesn’t add up.

    Thanks for your amazing work, Susan. You are the only one making sense out of all this!

    • I think Jay was afraid because he was spending so much time with the police, and his drug-dealing family and associates might tag him as a snitch. Apparently that was a big thing in 1999 Baltimore, and you could be killed for it.

    • Ok new rule (channeling my inner Bill Maher):

      Unless you can explain why Jay would volunteer multiple pieces of evidence that implicate HIM (not Adnan) as an accessory after the fact as part of his “framing” of Adnan, details for which the police never had any physical or corroborating evidence, and which he testified to in court under penalty of perjury even if Adnan was acquitted, then you can’t claim Jay wasn’t really involved and was just parroting the cops best guesses because they were leaning on him.

      Jay may not be the smartest criminal ever, but he could easily have just gone with the trunk pop story, the conversations with Adnan a priori (to get the murder 1 charge), and helping Adnan get home after the burial and Hae’s car was dumped, and he would have been golden. Why tell the story about getting shovels from his house and dumping them? Were they ever found? Why the story about dumping his own clothes? If he never says he helped with the actual burial there is no need to dump them?

      • Because he had essentially received immunity in exchange for the testimony, and the detectives coached then into saying what they wanted in exchange for letting him go. Would not be the first false confession in history by a long shot. The detectives had Adnan as the primary suspect and wanted to close the case. Sadly, this was not an unusual way to go about things for the police department, or for those detectives in particular, based on what has been disclosed.

        • Julie – Thanks to the excellent work of Susan, Rabia, and Colin Miller on their new podcast, I have to agree with you now. When I first posted this, I felt sure that the police were only interested in having Jay give enough testimony to convict a guy who they felt was guilty but couldn’t prove it playing by the rules. Now, I can no longer be sure.

    • I think burying the body is more likely of two scared kids than leaving the body in the car. If a death happens unexpectedly and they, would you not just try to hide the whole thing to prevent evidence coming to light? A random stranger with no connection to her might be less scared as it would be very hard to match DNA or other physical evidence.

      It would be interesting to know if there is research on the subject.

    • There have been three serial killers who have murdered in that area. The ones you seem to know about and a third who strangled and dumped one of his victims in Leakin Park. Rabia’s blog has the map showing the Leakin Park body locations and the website its from provides details of the ways the various people were killed.

  20. You say “Adnan’s Track Coach Saw Adnan at Track Practice at 3:30 p.m on January 13, 1999.” I’m not seeing any evidence he saw Adnan at that time, am I missing something?

  21. We all put a whole lot of stock into the fact that Jay knew where the car was. Couldn’t he have just wandered past it and recognised it at some point in the three weeks it was abandoned? Wasn’t it fairly close to the strips where he got drugs from?

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  23. Question for anyone: When questioned why Adnan didn’t immediately call Hae after hearing she went missing, he states, bc he assumed she ran away to California to live with her father. But he never came to America with them and they never had any communication after they migrated to the states. What am I missing?

    SN: Not insinuating he’s guilty or questioning his innocence. Im quite content being on the other end of the spectrum.

    • The man they lived with in California was not Hae’s birth father. Apparently Hae’s mother was engaged to this man for a time, but they never actually married. So, this wasn’t Hae’s real father, but that was how she referred to him, if I understand the situation correctly.

      • That makes sense.
        Im not 100% certain that Adnan stated that he figured she had ran away. I saw where Ms. Butler said Hae had told her about going there if things had gotten bad. I could have been confusing the two. Either way, thanks!

  24. Hi Susan,

    Can you comment on the fax from Adnan’s initial lawyers that Rabia posted to her blog this week? From a non-law background, that seems to be a horrible violation of rights. His lawyers were there and were requesting to see him and were repeatedly denied. However, maybe that’s standard? Or maybe that was standard in 1999? As I was reading that I was outraged and dumbfounded as to how that could happen, but I don’t know enough about how that process works. Can you shed some light? Thanks so much!

    • Chris F.~
      I have the same thoughts as you about Adnan’s lawyers not being able to talk to him. He was 17 years old for crying out loud! Whether he declined council or not he was a MINOR!

      • I’ve wondered about the legality of a 17-year-old Adnan begin questioning without a guardian much less a lawyer present. I mean, he’s not legally an adult, right. Is that a Maryland thing, I wonder? 1999 wasn’t that long ago, so it’s strange to think that that would fly back then. In the eyes of the law, Adnan wasn’t an adult, yet he’s supposed to be able to withstand an interrogation by two seasoned detectives?

        What seemed strange to me as well was when the detectives question Yaser (who I assume was under the age of 18 too) at the Pizza Hut. I’ve never heard mention of an adult (a legal guardian) being present while the detectives questioned him. The question they ask Yaser about where Adnan would dump Hae’s car is soooooo loaded. But Yaser answers it (and I think most teens would’ve, thinking nothing of how purely speculative and theoretical the question was).

  25. Susan, Re: Yaser and Adnan Never Spoke on January 13, 1999

    IIRC the prosecution claimed that the 6:59 call to Yaser and then the 7:00 page to Jenn was proof that Jay and Adnan were still together at that time. But if Yaser never actually spoke to Adnan, couldn’t that call have also been a butt dial by Jay (or some other means of him inadvertently dialing)? Would there have been enough time after the final call while they were at Cathy’s for Jay to drop Adnan off at his house (or mosque), then drive toward Leakin park and accidentally call Yaser on the way? The cell phone pings imply (note that I didn’t say “prove”) that both the 6:59 and 7:00 calls were made in between Adnan’s house and Leakin park.

  26. Just. Keeps. Getting. Worse. There’s no way I can any longer convince myself that this was par for the course sloppiness by the state, it was something much worse. No case, but they have Jay and the beauty of being Jay is that he’s Gumby, can bend and stretch to accommodate just about anything. Thank you Susan for all your hard work.

    • This case just gets sadder and sadder and sadder, it is absolutely heartbreaking, I can imagine Urick laughing with his buddies over beers while sealing the fate of a young 17 year old, I have no words to describe his actions, it makes me feel physically sick, I hope he reaps what he has sown, and I hope you are rewarded for your outstanding work. Adnan will be freed I feel that in my heart and soul. The reason why he has had to go through this none of us will ever know. I hope justice comes to Jay for his lies and deceit. I hope Adnan gets to spend time with his father before his father dies. I hope he is given back the years that the locusts have stolen from him and he lives a long and healthy life. Outstanding work Susan, you have turned over evry stone and to my mind you have uncovered the truth. Well done to you.

  27. why, if Jay had helped Adnan bury the body of his ex girlfriend and Jay was afraid of him as stated by Chris in Serial, is Adnan strolling into the video store where Jay works a month later and putting Jay on the phone with some girl he’s seeing? Does this strike anyone else as weird? like why is Jay not bothered by Adnan coming to his job? presumably, Adnan was there to hang out or buy pot, but idk, why are they still hanging out and seemingly having a friendly relationship after all this has gone down? that’s always struck me as being very strange.

  28. I do not expect any reply on a post this old, so this is more of an exasperated exclaimation… How is the way this prosecutor behaved legal?

    • I’m sure this post is probably too old for anyone to look at but been thinking more about Jada Lambert and Hae similarities. Even though Jada was raped she was found with all her clothes on (same as Hae except Hae’s skirt/shirt pulled up and such). The Baltimore Sun article also says much of Jada’s personal property was missing similar to Hae (potential missing pager, credit card I think, and no actual mention of her purse except the few items found like lip gloss). Anyway, not a life altering thought but just another similarity in the murders. Are the Jada Lambert case files available?

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  30. I’m re-reading some of these posts, so I know this comment is super late, but in one of the links to the original news articles in the Baltimore Sun discussing when Hae’s body was found, I read this statement: “She had plane tickets to France and had been scheduled to leave today.”…what?!

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