Serial: Lies, Damned Lies, and Closing Arguments

Note: Rabia Chaudry (Split the Moon), Colin Miller (Evidence Prof Blog), and I started a podcast. It’s called Undisclosed, and it follows Adnan Syed’s case and current appeal. New episodes will be released every other week, on Mondays, and in case that is too long to wait, on the off-weeks we will be releasing short addendum episodes with updates and previews.

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Before reading the post below, I recommend at least listening to Addendum 1, as some of the new information covered there is discussed in this post. And be sure to check us out next Monday, for Episode 2


In closing arguments, the prosecution “is entitled to considerable latitude in summation to argue the evidence and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn from that evidence.” United States v. Green, 25 F.3d 206, 210 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting United States v. Werme, 939 F.2d 108, 117 (3d Cir. 1991)). However, this latitude does not permit a prosecutor to make false and factually unsupported claims during closing arguments, as “[i]t is a fundamental tenet of the law that attorneys may not make material misstatements of fact in summation.” Davis v. Zant, 36 F.3d 1538, 1548 n. 15 (11th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, prosecutors have an “obligation [ ] to avoid making statements of fact to the jury not supported by proper evidence introduced during trial,” as “the interest of the Government in a criminal prosecution ‘is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done,’ and that ‘the average jury . . . has confidence that these obligations [of fairness and accuracy] will be faithfully observed.'”  Gaither v. United States, 413 F. 2d 1061 (D.C. Cir. 1969),  (citing Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935)).

In the case against Adnan Syed, this obligation was not respected. Prosecutors Kathleen Murphy and Kevin Urick displayed a reckless disregard for the truth in their closing arguments to the jury, both by making material misrepresentations about the physical evidence and by misstating witness testimony. For many of the misrepresentations made in closing, it is difficult to see how the prosecutors could have been unaware of the falsity of their arguments. Regardless of whether those misrepresentations were made intentionally or not, however, the prosecutors in Adnan’s case were “exceedingly reckless, and paid too short shrift to the prosecutors’ ‘obligation’ to seek a conviction only on the basis of facts in the record.” United States v. Mageno, 762 F. 3d 933 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Gaither, 413 F.2d at 1079).

Below, I have set forth (in blue) a selection of claims made in the State’s closing arguments, by Murphy, and rebuttal closing, by Urick, and provided an analysis of the accuracy of their representations to the jury.

Closing Arguments (Murphy)

He felt the little bone in her throat pop and still he continued to hold her there 10 seconds, 15 long seconds, and it was done.

False. In reality, it takes several minutes to kill someone this way, as the State’s own expert testified:

Murphy: Based on your experience, how long approximately would it take for someone to die of strangulation?

Dr. Korell: Well, it depends on how long the pressure is applied. Now, if somebody applies pressure on the neck for ten seconds or so, and then the person becomes unconscious, then unconsciousness leads into death a couple of minutes later. (2/02/00 Tr. 42-43.)

Murphy’s “10 seconds, 15 long seconds” story was therefore factually untrue — which she must have known, because she was the one to question Dr. Korell on direct. She made the claim anyway, however, to support the State’s nonsensical timeline. In order for Hae to have been dead by 2:36, Adnan did not have minutes to spare while actually committing the murder.

Think again about Dr. Korell’s testimony and what this autopsy report tells you. We know that Hey Lee was a passenger in the car. The Defendant told Jay Wilds that as she struggled, as she tried to get away, she kicked the wiper lever. You saw a video showing this wiper lever, how it dangled from the steering column on the car. That was consistent with what Jay Wilds said. In order for Hey Lee to kick this wiper lever, we know she was in that passenger seat.

False. Jay did not testify that Hae kicked the “wiper lever.” He testified that, “[Adnan] said that he thought she was trying to say something to him like apologize or say she was sorry, and that she had kicked off the turn signal in the car” (2/04/00 Tr. 142). The turn signal was on the left side of the steering column. Although the prosecution’s witnesses alternately  claimed both the right side and left side switches were broken, depending on what was convenient for the prosecution’s narrative, Hae’s brother has said it was the left-hand turn signal, and his account seems the most credible.

There is no conceivable way Hae could have kicked the turn signal from the passenger seat, but the prosecution convinced the jury otherwise by packing two lies into this short section of the closing arguments: that (1) Jay had testified Adnan told him the “wiper lever” was broken during the struggle, and (2) that Jay’s testimony was consistent with Hae being in the passenger seat at the time of her death, when in reality his statements show the exact opposite.

Dr. Korell told you about bruises on the right side of her head. Think about it. She struggled, she’s pushing to get away, and her head is pushing against the window next to her. We know she was in the car, the very car that was used to take her body to Leakin Park.

True to the testimony, but factually inaccurate. Murphy’s argument here are based on permissible inferences drawn from the existing record — Dr. Korell did testify to something like this — but the factual accuracy of the underlying witness claims is unsupportable based on the evidence presented. The blunt force injuries to Hae’s skull were not consistent with the scenario described by Murphy, as Evidence Prof Blog has discussed in great detail. Accordingly, we do not know she was killed in the car, or that her car was used to transport her body. There was no supportable evidence that either scenario occurred, beyond Jay’s testimony, because the State declined to do any forensic testing that could have confirmed his account.

Consider the other evidence, the map in the car, the map with the palm print of this Defendant and the single page that’s ripped from this map, sitting in the back seat of that car. She was in Leakin Park in the very car where she was murdered.

Misleading. Murphy’s argument is certainly within bounds of prosecutorial discretion here, but it is worth noting that it was phrased in a misleading fashion. Adnan’s palm print was not found on a map of Leakin Park. It was found on the cover of a map book he had used all the time while he and Hae drove around together in the weeks and months before her death. Although Murphy implied that Adnan’s print was found on the map of Leakin Park itself, it was not. (Moreover, the “page that’s ripped from th[e] map” does not even show the part of Leakin Park where she was buried.

Consider also the photographs. Does this look like the trunk of a teenager’s car? No. She had sports equipment, she had other things that were all moved to the back seat, and you can see that in the pictures, because her body was put in this trunk by this Defendant. This was the car used to take her to Leakin Park and it’s the car in which she was killed.

False. Hae, like many high school students, kept her car in a fairly messy state; multiple witnesses have confirmed this. The fact that Hae’s backpack, books, and a few other items were found in her backseat is in no way evidence that items were moved from the trunk to the backseat of the car.

Moreover, the claim that sporting equipment,had been moved from the trunk of Hae’s car appears to be a bald-faced lie. (Unless the police inaccurately inventoried evidence, of course, which I support cannot be ruled out). Nothing introduced at trial or in the evidentiary record indicates that any sporting equipment was found in the backseat of the Sentra. In fact, when investigators found the car, Hae’s lacrosse and field hockey sticks were still in the trunk:

KU: Now, the next exhibit, State’s 15, have you had a chance to examine that?
Thomas: Yes, sir, I have.
KU: And what, if anything, does that indicate?
Thomas: This indicates the rear trunk area of the vehicle and the contents contained inside of that area.
KU: And could you explain what each picture shows
Thomas: Yes. The top left picture shows a lacrosse stick, hockey stick, a jacket, umbrella, and the index card packet. The lower left photograph indicates an envelope that was found beneath the carpeted area of the trunk, like right on top of the spare tire. The upper right photograph indicates papers  that were found once the red jacket was moved to the side. These are the items that were found beneath the red jacket. (1/31/00 Tr. 60-61.)

As there was no actual sporting equipment in the backseat of Hae’s car, Murphy’s claim that equipment was moved from the trunk of the Sentra to the backseat was empty speculation not supported by the record.

If this weren’t true, why hide the car? Why take it to a place where it’s not likely to be found for quite some time, and it was not. Consider also the testimony about the T-shirt in the car. Yung Lee told you he recognized this shirt. It had been his and he knew that his sister had used it as a rag in her car and she kept it stuffed in the map pocket next to the driver’s seat.

Misleading. Murphy’s conclusions are the exact opposite of what a criminal profiler would tell you. Had she been killed in her car, her body would more likely have been left there. Taking the trouble to transport the body to a second location suggests that the first one was connected to the killer. And, while the use of the rag perhaps suggests wiping for prints, that in itself cannot suggest that the car was the murder location, as prints would equally have been left by whoever drove her car and left it off Edmondson Avenue.

Remember when Dr. Korell told you about a process called pulmonary edema? This occurs when a person dies and a foamy blood comes from their nose or their mouth. She said it happens right after death. She said it can happen spontaneously or it can happen when the body is moved. And you can bet when blood came from the nose or mouth of Hey Lee that this Defendant took great care to wipe that blood to keep it from getting on him. The blood on the T-shirt is Hey Lee’s. Dr. Korell told you that blood appeared to be consistent with the very process she described. Consider the placement of the T-shirt, crumpled in the driver’s seat, as if it had been sat on. After he wiped the blood from her nose and mouth, he discarded it on the seat. Perhaps he used it again later to wipe the steering wheel. He tossed it away without another thought.

True to the testimony, but factually inaccurate. Dr. Korell did claim that she could identify the photos of the bloodstains on the t-shirt as “pulmonary edema,” but her claim was based on nothing more than junk science. First, that identification could not be made by looking at a photo. Second,  Dr. Korell’s description of pulmonary edema and the process by which it comes about is not consistent with any medical literature or with the opinions of any experts who have looked at the record, all of whom concluded that there is no reason to expect that, in a strangulation case, there would be pulmonary edema “com[ing] from the[] nose or [ ] mouth . . . right after death.”

Contrary to Murphy’s claims, then, the t-shirt found in Hae’s car does not provide supporting evidence for the prosecution’s theory that she was murdered there.

We know also that Hey was killed on January 13th, the day she disappeared, the last day she was seen by her family and friends. We know this because Jay Wilds says it and we know it for so many other reasons.

False. We “know” Hae was killed on January 13th only because Jay Wilds said it. There was no other evidence presented that she died on the day she went missing.

Remember the testimony of Mrs. Inez Butler-Hendricks from Woodlawn High School. She remembers talking to Hey that day. Hey was very excited about being taped for a local news show. She recalls in great detail how Hey came running into the concession area at 2:15, right after class. She was in such a rush that she didn’t even pay for the snack that she got because she knew she was corning back.

Misleading. At the second trial, Inez did testify that Hae had not paid for her snacks and said she would pay later; Murphy is right about that. But it’s worth noting that Inez perjured herself in doing so — in her second police statement, she described how Hae had paid for the snacks.

Murphy’s closing also sidestepped any mention of the fact that Hae did not simply “run up” to the concession stand — she drove up to the concession stand. She was already in her car, sans Adnan, by the time Inez saw her drive away, with no apparent way for Adnan to have intercepted her afterwards.

She had to go to the wrestling match, and Ms. Butler told you, with no hesitation, that these were in fact the clothes that Hey Lee was wearing on January 13th. She was wearing a skirt and light jacket and top. She wanted to look nice for the taping.

False. Inez never testified that Hae had been dressed up nicely for a interview on January 13th, and neither did anyone else. Hae was filmed in her field hockey uniform, she was not trying to dress nicely for the taping. Murphy either fabricated this detail or based it on evidence not in the trial record.

She was wearing hose, hose that Jay Wilds remembers seeing on her body, the taupe colored hose, the hose that were scratched and torn because her body had been in there long enough for animals to begin digging away at it.

False. Inez Butler testified that the hose were not colored:

Murphy: Do you recall what Ms. Lee was wearing on that day?
Inez: A little short black skirt, light colored blouse, and some real high black heels.
Murphy: Okay. Did she have anything on her legs?
Inez: She had some nylon stockings, but they weren’t colored stockings, they were just clear stockings. (2/04/00 Tr. 19.)

Jay was the only witness who remembered that Hae was wearing “taupe” colored hose.

Remember her bank records. There is not a single moment of activity on those records after January 13th. Up through January 13th, were there any significant withdrawals that would enable her to take a trip or go somewhere? No. A couple dollars here, a couple dollars there. On January 13th, $1.71, enough for Hey to stop and get a soda or a snack on her way home from her boyfriend Don’s house sometime after midnight. There’s not a single transaction after that. We know she was killed that day.

True to the record, but factually inaccurate. Had Murphy actually looked at the bank records she was referring to, she should have realized that the purchase in question was made on January 11th, not January 13th.

Additionally, although this was not presented at trial, if Murphy read the case file then she knew that Hae had reportedly told friends she had access to $3,000, somehow. In which case, Murphy’s argument about the lack of withdrawals from her bank account doesn’t mean much of anything.

And most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, consider what we know about Hey Lee. She’s a bright girl, she’s a busy girl. And on January 13th, 1999, she had lots of things to do. What does her schedule that day tell us? We know she was in class at 2:15. Aisha [ ] had that class with her, and so did the Defendant. Aisha [ ] told you that at the end of class at 2:15 Hae was talking to the Defendant. We know she immediately went to the gym area because that’s where Inez Butler him [sic]. They told you in great detail about their encounter.

Misleading. Murphy’s closing once again glosses over the fact that Hae was already in her car by the time she reached the gym, and Adnan was nowhere in sight.

Moreover, Murphy’s closing argument here was only possible because Aisha did not testify to the fact that, as recounted by Krista, she had witnessed the same conversation as Becky — the one in which Hae said that she could not give a ride to Adnan, because she had “something else to do.” Becky had seen Hae and Adnan walk away in different directions after the conversation, Hae down the hallway towards her car in the back lot, Adnan in the opposite direction.

We know that she left immediately to pick up her young cousins who were just in elementary school.

True to the record, but factually inaccurate. One cousin, singular. Although Officer Adock’s missing persons report had falsely claimed that Hae was picking up two cousins that day, Hae’s brother, Young, testified that she was only picking up one.

By 3:00, it was known to her family that she had not done this.

False. Murphy’s claim was contrary to the record, a fact which she ought to have been well aware of. Although Young was not asked at the second trial what time his family had learned of Hae’s failure to pick up her cousin, at the first trial he testified that the cousin’s day care had called at 3:30 to tell them that the cousin had not been picked up. Multiple other sources have also provided that the pick-up time was 3:15 or 3:20, and there is no source that provides that Hae would have been late for the pick-up if she was not there by 3:00pm.

Ladies and gentlemen, Hey Lee was dead in 20 to 25 minutes from when she left school. And we know that she was dead because she was supposed to return to Woodlawn High School and travel with the rest of the team. We know this didn’t happen because Ms. Inez Butler, who remembers so well seeing Hae that afternoon, had to go in Hae’s place with the rest of the team because she didn’t show up.

Misleading, and factually inaccurate. Hae was going to work at Owings Mills Mall that afternoon at 6pm, not to a wrestling match. But even accepting for the moment that there had been a wrestling match (although no documentary evidence of such a match exists) and that Hae was supposed to be there (contrary to Inez’s initial statements and all other evidence concerning her plans for that afternoon), the wrestling match story provides no evidence that Hae was dead within 25 minutes of leaving school. Inez testified that the bus for the Chesapeake match would not leave until 5pm, and Hae’s supposed failure to show up at the school then has nothing to do with whether she was dead 20 to 25 minutes after leaving school.

Take a good look at State’s Exhibit 19. This is a note addressed to Don in Hey’s car. We know she wrote this the day she died. “Hey Cutie, Sorry I couldn’t stay. I have to go to a wrestling match at Randallstown High but I promise to page you as soon as I get home, okay? Till then, take care and drive safely. Always, Hey. P.S.: The interview went well and I promise to tape it so you can see me, as many and as often as you want.”

She refers to things we know she had to do that day: the taping, the taped interview, the wrestling match at Randallstown. Maybe she intended to put it on his car,  we don’t know. She never had a chance to do it.

False. Nothing in the trial record supported Murphy’s claim that the wrestling match at Randallstown was a “thing . . . she had to do that day.” The only witness whose testimony mentioned a wrestling match at all was Inez Butler, and she testified that the match had been at Chesapeake, not at Randallstown. Although the claim that the match had been at Randallstown was a way of shoehorning the Don Note into the prosecution’s invented narrative of what happened on January 13, 1999, it was not supported by any evidence at trial, and was not factually true.

And the most important, the most telling example regarding how we know this was the day she was murdered came from her brother, Yung Lee, through the fact that this Defendant never called her house again.

Misleading. Murphy’s claim here is true to the record, but nevertheless absurd. Why on earth would Adnan have called Hae’s house, when he knew she was not there? As far as we know, none of her friends ever called her house again, because they knew they wouldn’t reach Hae by doing so.

What is telling about this argument, however, is Murphy’s unwillingness to make the claim that Adnan never tried to page Hae again. Because the prosecution can’t show that. They never obtained Hae’s pager records — and likely were wary of alerting the jury to this fact.

Let’s talk for a while about Jay Wilds because, clearly,  this case hinges on his testimony. At the very beginning of the case, Mr. Urick asked you when you hear Jay Wilds think to yourself, why him? Why is he the one in this position? Well, think about it. Do you really believe that the Defendant could go to one of his upstanding magnet school, honor student friends or a friend from the mosque to assist him with this act?

True. The prosecution’s closing argument correctly acknowledges that Adnan’s conviction was dependent on Jay’s testimony — testimony that we now know was perjured, by that witness’s own admissions.

You don’t have to like Jay Wilds or like what he did to know that he’s telling the truth. You had an opportunity to watch him, not only hear him but watch him, as he sat here and testified. And remember, as he sat here and he recounted specific details of that day, remember the look on his face as he was asked to recall that moment in the Best Buy parking lot when he saw the body of Hey Lee. The look on his face, an expression that told you he wasn’t looking at anything in this courtroom, he was seeing again the body of a dead woman, something he’d never seen before and something he told you is going to stay with him forever.

Subsequently disproven, due to witness’s admission of perjury. For someone who could “see[ ] again the body,” and who was going to have that image “stay with him forever,” Jay sure  has a startling inability to recall where that actually was when this occurred. Although Murphy appealed to Jay’s convincing act on the stand as proof of his truthfulness, Jay was perjuring himself at the time that he was giving this testimony. The trunk pop, he now acknowledges, occurred not at the Best Buy, but somewhere else entirely, and it happened later that evening, not at 3pm in the afternoon.

You know he knows what happened. But more importantly, you know he was with the Defendant on January 13th. How do you know that? Let’s look at the cell phone records. You heard from a young woman by the name of Nisha. . . . There is a phone call to Nisha on the Friday at 3:22 p.m. Nisha told you she does remember a call when the Defendant called her and said, “Say hi to my friend Jay.” Jay Wilds told you about the exact same call as they’re driving from I-70 parking lot where they left Hae’s car. Jay tells you yeah, and then he called some girl in Silver Spring and he asked me to say hi to her. Jay Wilds and Nisha don’t know each other. Nisha told you they were together.

False. Nisha testified that Jay and Adnan were together at the video store where Jay started working on January 31st. She also said Adnan was walking, not in a car, at the time of the call. Nisha was uncertain of the date of the call, and Jay did not remember that the call had even happened until he was “reminded” by the police.

Also, the Nisha Call was actually at 3:32, not 3:22. But I’ll let that one slide.

You heard also from [Cathy]. [Cathy] was at University of Maryland at Baltimore all day, at a conference. She came home to her apartment around 5:30 that afternoon and sometime after 6 — and she knows this because she watches “Judge Judy” – – the Defendant and Jay come to her apartment together. She remembers this because she doesn’t know the Defendant, and he’s acting shady, he’s acting strange. What does he do when he comes to her apartment? He slumps over on the floor and hides his face. This is memorable to her. [Cathy] told you that the Defendant and Jay Wilds were together.

True to the record, but factually inaccurate. Murphy is correct; Cathy did say that she had been at a conference at UMAB all day before Adnan and Jay came over. However, Cathy’s conference was on January 22nd, not the 13th. Which means Cathy does not have any memory of Adnan and Jay visiting her apartment on January 13th — in fact, she remembers them visiting on a different day entirely — and her only reason for believing that the visit took place on January 13th was that she had been told that is when it happened by Detective MacGillivary. Her own memories place the trip on a different date entirely.

Although there is no proof that the State knew at the time of trial that Cathy had the wrong date for when Adnan and Jay came over, the prosecution should have been on alert that there was a strong possibility this was the case, given that (1) Cathy’s testimony is replete with inconsistencies about Adnan’s visit that cannot be reconciled with a trip that took place on January 13th; (2) that Jay and Jenn failed to remember any trip to Cathy’s during their first statements to the police; and (3) that Cathy by her own testimony only knew Adnan had visited her apartment on January 13th because Detective MacGillivary told her so.

Jennifer Pusateri told you that after she received that page from Jay to pick him up, she goes to Westview Mall to meet Jay. Who pulls up but the Defendant, driving his car with Jay Wilds in it. Jennifer Pusateri told you the Defendant was with Jay Wilds.

True. Mostly. Jenn did testify that she got a message to pick him up at Westview, but she could not remember how she got this message. Jay “must have” called her, but she doesn’t really know:

KM: At some point did Jay call you?
Jenn: Yea, he must have called me to tell me to go pick him up in front of Westview Mall.
. . .
KM: And what happened with this next page, Jay said what?
Jenn: To come and pick him up in front of Westview Mall parking lot, or maybe I talked to Jay on the phone, one or the other. (2/15/00 Tr. 189, 191.)

More important, though, is that although Jenn testified to somehow getting a message to pick Jay up from Westview and then going to Westview to get him, Jay does not recall this happening. He said he went home after the burial and that Jenn picked him up from his house, not from the mall:

I got to my house and I was in my house for maybe five minutes. I instantaneously changed all my clothes and put them all in a bag. . . . My mother kept trying to talk to me. I was real agitated. I just left real quick. I got into Jenn’s car and I told Jenn to drive back around to these shovels. (2/04/00 Tr. 156-57.)

Either Jenn never saw Adnan that night, or Jay perjured himself about peripheral details. Or both.

Jay Wilds was sincere.

False. He lied relentlessly at trial, and even those who most feverishly believe in Adnan’s guilt would not argue otherwise. The prosecution had to have known he was  lying, too, or else they would not have felt the need to re-write his testimony in their closing arguments.

You heard a lot of questions and a lot of testimony about the inconsistencies of his statements, and I’m sure you’re going to hear a lot more. Jay Wilds never once told you that he didn’t lie to the police. He was honest with you. Yeah, I did it, and he gave you the reasons why.

Misleading. Admitting that you are a liar is not “being honest.” Jay can be honest in admitting that he lied to the police in every previous statement he had ever given, and then continue to lie in the next statement he gives. The following is from the first trial, but it provides a perfect description of Jay’s version of “honesty”:

CG: [During the interview on April 13th,] [t]hey hadn’t caught up to all of the lies, particularly the new ones that you told them on [March] 15th,  had they?
Jay: I have no knowledge of that, ma’am.
CG: Right, because they didn’t — they confronted you but they didn’t tell you all of the things that you knew you had lied about?
KU: Objection.
CG: Correct?
THE COURT: Overruled.
Jay: No, ma’am, they did not.
CG: No, they didn’t because they hadn’t caught them all; correct?
Jay: Hmm, I’m not aware of that.
CG: You don’t know whether they caught all of your lies or not?
Jay: Pardon me?
CG: You don’t know whether they caught all of your lies or not?
Jay: I’m not aware. That’s their job. I’m not —
CG: So it’s their job to catch you up in your lies; correct?
Jay: That’s their job to recite what I say, yes.
CG: It’s easier for them to catch you in lies that they record, is it not?
Jay: Yes, ma’am. (12/15/99 Tr. 192-94.)

Yes, Jay was very honest in admitting that he had no problem lying to the cops. His position is clear: it is not his job to tell the truth, it is the cops’ job to figure out when he is lying. And, if they fail to catch onto one of his lies, then he will continue to tell it.

And why did he not tell the police on at least two occasions the full story?

Misleading. Why did Jay lie to the police on “at least” two occasions? Murphy knew damned well that he lied to the cops on a minimum of four separate occasion, and very likely on more occasions still that were not officially documented. It is not that Jay limited his lies to two of his statements, it is that the State chose to limit its taping of Jay’s lie to only two occasions.

Why [did he not tell the police the full story]? Because he wanted to protect people he knew. He wanted to leave Jen Pusitari out.

False. Jay never left Jenn out of the story. In his first interview, he named her as someone he had told about the murder on the night it happened — which he had to know would be sufficient to get the cops to interview her, and would place her in a position of either lying to the cops or confessing that she had committed the felony of accessory after the fact to murder. Jay also identified Jenn’s little brother, Mark, as his (false) alibi witness, and roped him — or should have roped him — into a murder investigation, when he would have faced the choice of either confirming Jay’s lie or lying himself.

In Jay’s second interview, Jay was really not trying to protect Jenn. He told the cops that he had twice informed Jenn of Adnan’s plans to kill Hae, once on the afternoon of January 12th and once on the morning of January 13th, but that Jenn had just shrugged and went about her day:

MacGillivary: Jennifer never really like Hae, correct?
Jay: Yeah, I mean.
MacGillivary: So I mean, did she actually even care?
Jay: Not really.
MacGillivary: Did she say you know, oh I can’t believe this, we’ve gotta stop this?
Jay: No.
MacGillivary: What did she say to you?
Jay: Ah.
MacGillivary: Oh well?
Jay: That mother fucker is crazy yoh.
MacGillivary: And that’s it, okay.  (Int.2 at 48-49.)

Either Jay was lying at trial when he claimed Jenn had not known about the murder plot, or he was lying in his interview when he said she had known about it. Either way, if Jay’s lies were designed to protect someone, it wasn’t Jenn.

He wanted to leave [Cathy] out.

True. Sort of. Jay wanted to leave Cathy out of the story because she was not part of the story in the first place. When the cops falsely concluded that he had been at her house on the day of the 13th, however, Jay happily incorporated her into the narrative.

He wanted to leave out the fact that the Best Buy parking lot was the place where the Defendant and Hey Lee had sex.

False. Jay did testify to something like this at trial, and Murphy was properly entitled to raise it in closing arguments. However, there is no chance that Murphy actually believed, even for an instant, that Jay had testified truthfully on this point. To see why, let’s review his various statements concerning the Best Buy lie.

In Jay’s second statement to the police, he told them he had lied about Best Buy because he was trying to protect himself (in some unexplained way).

MacGillivary: Why did you lie about the location?
Jay: Ah, I figured there was camera’s there or somebody had spotted him during what he was doing.
MacGillivary: But if you actually didn’t assist in her murder.
Jay: I’m associated with it.
MacGillivary: Why would you lie about the location?
Jay: Because I’m associated, I’m associated with it. (Int.2 at 58.)

By the time of the first trial, Jay’s explanation for the Best Buy lie had  morphed into something a little more coherent, although it was still odd:

KU: In the first statement, you told the officers that you had met the defendant who had Hae’s car at a strip on Edmonson?
Jay: Yes.
KU: In your second statement, you said you met him at the Best Buy, and which Best Buy is that?
Jay: The one on Security Boulevard.
KU: And is that in the State of Maryland?
Jay: Yes.
KU: Why was — why the difference between the two statements?
Jay: Really there was no reason. I just felt more comfortable if the cops had returned me to a place I feel comfortable in. (12/14/99 Tr. 214-15.)

By the time of the second trial, however, his explanation for why he lied had transformed into something far more noble. Jay was the accessory to murder with a heart of gold, who was willing to bury Hae in a shallow grave and leave her family worrying for weeks before they found out the truth, but who was unwilling to “embarrass” her by acknowledging that Adnan and Hae had used the Best Buy as a hookup location:

KU: Now, why did that change between the first and second statement, or why did you not say in the first statement what you said in the second one?
Jay: The significance of Best Buy, I didn’t want to — I don’t know, bring anything out that didn’t need to be brought out about Hae.
KU: And what was the significance of Best Buy?
Jay: That’s where her and Mr. Syed used to have intercourse. (2/15/00 Tr. 134.)

Forgive me for a moment, but there is only one response to this kind of perjury: Bull. Shit.

No one following this case believes Jay’s story here for even half a second, and I am not going to pretend otherwise. We all know Jay was lying about this. Urick knew it too — after all, he was the one who questioned  Jay on direct about this very subject only a few weeks before — but he nevertheless allowed Jay to perjure himself on the witness stand. (Not to mention that, in addition to the vacillating nature of his stories, the lie he told at the second trial was as nonsensical as the explanation in his first interview. Jay could have told the truth about Best Buy and then denied having any knowledge of Best Buy’s supposed significance, if that’s what concerned him, but he was lying to hide something else.)

He didn’t leave himself out of those statements. He tried to leave out other people.

False. Many of Jay’s lies left him out of critical parts of the story that he later admitted (whether truthfully or not) to having a role in. He lied about helping to dig the hole. He lied about knowing in advance of Adnan’s plans to kill Hae. He lied about where he was from 12:30 to 3:30pm on January 13th.

So let’s talk about cell phones. We all got quite a lesson in cell phone technology, the AT&T wireless system. You heard from an AT&T engineer, Mr. [Waranowitz]. He told you, too, that this map shows you — these bright colors each represent areas in which a given tower’s signal strength is strongest. And in these areas, the cell phone is going to talk to the given tower.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. No maps are capable of depicting where a “cell phone is going to talk to the given tower,” and Waranowitz never claimed anything like that at trial. Even Urick got this one right, in arguments before the bench:

I will proffer to the Court that when we went to Mr. Waranowitz — when we were talking to him we said. we’ve got cell phone records and we have statements that this AT&T wireless phone were in these locations and these calls were received were made. Is it possible to test the system to see if it is possible for the system to respond in those places in these manners and that was the test to check out the cell phone records and the statements co see if it can be shown that this — that the system can respond in this way. He explained to use you can never say from a cell phone record the spot where something was, you can never prove that. (2/09/00 Tr. 17.)

Yet Murphy informed the jury that we can use their expert’s shiny, scientific maps to tell where the phone could have been when it “talk[ed] to the given tower.”

What we wanted to know with those tests were, for example, if Jay Wilds said that the Defendant answered his phone in Leakin Park, was that true? If [Cathy] said he answered the phone at her apartment down by UMBC, was that true? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the cell phone records support what those witnesses say and the witnesses support what those cell phone records say. There’s no way around it.

False. The witnesses and cell records do not match. First, with regard to Jay, his claims about the calls made in Leakin Park require time travel and teleportation to even approach the truth. Ignoring that aspect of his testimony, though, Waranowitz never even tested the burial site. His testing cannot be said to corroborate Jay’s stories, because there is no evidence that L689B (the Leakin Park tower) could provide reception over the burial site, and based on geographic conditions, it is not likely that it could have.

Second, with regard to Cathy, the only reason the cell logs match her testimony is because the prosecution falsely informed the jury that Waranowitz’s testing found that L655C, rather than L655B, covered Cathy’s street. Cathy’s story was itself the result of her mixing up  the date of Adnan’s visit, so any perceived “corroboration” between the cell records and her testimony proves only how malleable the tower location data truly is.

The Defense may try to suggest to you that this system doesn’t work and there’s no rhyme or reason for this pattern of phone calls. That’s not so, there is a rhyme and there is a reason. Think about it. The witnesses could not have known what cell site they were in when they were making calls and they certainly couldn’t control that. They were probably unaware that the calls were even being recorded in this fashion. Do you think Jay Wilds, when confronted with these phone calls, said oh, L608C, I better put [Cathy’s] house into this? No. The witnesses can’t control it and they weren’t aware of it, and that’s why you can’t get around this evidence, ladies and gentlemen.

False. That is exactly what happened. Jay did say, when confronted with the cellphone records, “Oh, L608C, I better put Cathy’s house into this.” He also said, “Oh, L654C, I better put Cathy’s house into this,” and “Oh, L655A, I better put Cathy’s house into this.” Jay demonstrably adapted his story to fit the detectives’ misconceptions about the cell records, and Murphy’s closing arguments on this issue were nothing more than a cruel joke.

Remember that January 13th, for these witnesses, was not any special day at the time. They had no idea that day that over a year later they were going to be asked to sit here and testify in a murder trial. The first time any of them were even asked to remember that day was weeks, maybe months later, but people remember what is important to them.

True. This applies equally to Adnan.

And again, consider Ms. Inez Butler; she remembers talking to Hey immediately after class, 2:15, because she remembers Hey left in a hurry and Hey didn’t come back. And that had an impact on her because she had to travel to the wrestling match. People remember what is important to them.

True. Inez Butler’s testimony also demonstrates the extreme flexibility of witness testimony in general. She should have remembered that she had to travel to a wrestling match because Hae failed to show, but in her first police statement, she told the cops that Hae was not supposed to go to any wrestling match that evening.

The Defendant picks Jay up and they go to the mall. At some point, the Defendant goes back to school and he gives his car and his cell phone to Jay Wilds at that point in time. Where Jay Wilds goes in this period is not clear. It’s not clear from Jay, it’s not clear. Nobody knows. . . . He thinks he may have gone to — looking for marijuana. Maybe he did.

False. Jay testified that he knew exactly where he was during the entire time period Murphy is referring to: Jenn’s house. Murphy’s closing argument makes up testimony that Jay never gave to explain why the cell phone records are wildly inconsistent with his testimony.

But it is clear from these cell phone records that Jay Wilds is nowhere near Hey Men Lie. He is nowhere near Woodlawn High School where we know she is. Jay Wilds is over here and Jay Wild, is downtown. . . . [ ] [T]he records are clear, he’s nowhere near Hey Men Lee.

False. At 3:15pm, the cell phone records show that Jay received a call that originated on L651C — the same tower that Waranowitz testified could be triggered from Woodlawn High School. The call before that was 2:36, which means, going by the cell records, from 2:41pm onwards, Jay could have been at Woodlawn, and near Hae.

In fact, in Jay’s very first statement of all, that’s exactly where Jay told the cops he was, shortly after 2:30pm on January 13, 1999. He said he was at Woodlawn High School. That story is far more consistent with the cell records than anything else he has said.

Jay does remember at 12:43 p.m., while he’s downtown, he gets a call from the Defendant. The Defendant says I’m not ready for you yet but pick me up at 3:45. At this point, Jay is still in the city, L652A.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. Murphy either had no idea what Jay actually said at trial, or she was lying, because Jay never once claimed to have been in the city that day. At trial, Jay testified to the following concerning the 12:43pm call:

KU: Okay. Now, did there come a time when you went over to the [Pusateri] house?
Jay: Yes.
KU: And what if anything did you do there?
Jay: We entered, me and Mark , and we both went down to the basement. We started playing Play Station probably for about a half an hour. I asked him if he would like to come to the mall with me, I hadn’t finished shopping yet, and he said sure. Right before we left, I received a phone call on the cellphone. It was Adnan and he was asking me where I was. I told him I was at Jenn’s playing video games. I asked him if he was ready yet and he said no. We left and we went to [Westview] mall. (2/04/00 Tr. 129.)

Everything Murphy said about the 12:43 call was made up out of thin air. To be fair, Jay’s actual testimony was equally made up out of thin air, so it is not as if her closing arguments were any more false than what Jay had actually testified to. Nevertheless, Murphy was not entitled to substitute her preferred fabrications for the ones Jay actually said at trial, even if her version sounded better.

We know that class ended at 2:15 that day. And remember back to Aisha’s testimony. The Defendant was talking to Hey Lee at that point in time and Inez Butler sees Hey as she rushes out of school, grabs her snack, and heads out the door. Ladies and gentlemen, she’s dead within 20 minutes.

False. Hae did not “head[ ] out the door” when Inez last saw her. Murphy was trying to distract the jury from the fact that Hae had pulled up next to the concession stand when Inez saw her last and then drove away with Adnan nowhere in sight.

2:36 p.m.[,] the Defendant calls Jay Wilds, come get me at Best Buy. Jay Wilds is at the home of Jennifer Pusitari at this point, and the records are clear. Call no. 28 occurs in the cell area covered by L651B. This is the area that the AT&T engineer told you covers Jennifer Pusitari’s house.

False. There was no testimony to support the claim that the 2:36 p.m. call was the “come-and-get-me” call, and the State’s star witness expressly testified otherwise.

Jay: We came back to Jenn’s house and went back down to the basement. I believe Jenn called on the telephone when we returned home, and soon after I got another call on the cellphone. This time he was asking me like had I had it turned off or something like that or something, was it on, and I told him yes, it had been on. I sat at Jenn’s and I played video games.
KU: And did there come a time when Jenn came home?
Jay: Yes.
KU: And did there come a time when you left?
Jay: Yes.
KU: And where did you go when you left?
Jay: Well, in his last phone call, he was like I need you to come get me at like 3:45 or something like that he told me , and I was like all right, cool. I waited until then and there was no phone call, so I was going to my friend Jeff[ G.’s] house. . . Jeff wasn’t home. As I was leaving his street, I received a phone call. It was Adnan. He asked me to come and get him from Best Buy. (2/04/00 Tr. 129-30.)

Jay told the jury that the 2:36 call was either from Jenn, or else it was Adnan telling him to come pick him up at 3:45. Jay did not pick Adnan up at 3:45, and since Adnan did not call back, he left Jenn’s house. Only at around 3:40 did Adnan call Jay.

The State’s timeline is impossible unless you assume that the star witness — the one whom Adnan’s conviction hinged upon — either lied about everything he said happened that day, or could not remember any of the details. Jay “remembered” what time Adnan called, because he had been specifically waiting for a call at around 3:40. By his own admission, he was watching the clock, and knew exactly what time it was when Adnan called. And it was not at 2:36pm. Or even 3:15pm. Actually, it was not a call that ever happened, according to the call logs. Everything Jay testified to concerning those calls was a lie. Murphy must have known that, too, judging by her willingness to disregard everything he said and make up a new story in her closing arguments.

The 2:36pm call was also not a “real” call, in that it almost certainly could not have involved a conversation between two people. The call was five seconds long, and billing began as soon as the caller connected with AT&T’s facilities. Even if the connection to Adnan’s phone occurred in a second, and Jay answered on the first ring, that leaves 3 seconds to talk. Why would Adnan go to the trouble of lending his accomplice a cell phone so that he could assist in the murder, and then not even confirm that Jay had heard the most important part of the communication?

So Jay drives to the Best Buy, and it is there that the Defendant, for the first time, opens his trunk and shows Jay Wilds the body of Hey Lee. By 3 p.m., by 3 p.m., her family knows she hasn’t picked up her cousins.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. At the second trial, the prosecution carefully avoided asking Young what time they found out that Hae was missing. They made that mistake in the first trial, and Young told them that the family had not received a call from the day care until 3:30pm. Since the prosecution did not repeat this mistake in Trial #2, Murphy arguably had the leeway to falsely claim that Hae’s absence was noted by 3pm, even though there was no evidence to support it, and Young’s testimony and Adcock’s witness report contradicted it. However, the statement was clearly untrue, and it is hard to see how she would have been unaware of that fact.

The Defendant gets Jay to follow him to the I-70 parking lot where they leave Hey’s car, and they then head back towards Woodlawn from the park and ride together. It’s at that point, at 3:32 p.m., that the Defendant calls Nisha in Silver Spring. She says hello to Jay. We know they are together at that point in time. That call lasts for 2 minutes and 22 seconds. . . . This occurs in the coverage area of L651C, the pink area, which would be consistent if they were heading back towards Woodlawn from the I-70 parking lot.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. Again, we are left with two options: either Murphy had no clue about what had actually happened at Adnan’s trial, or she was making things up to suit her story as she went along. There are so many false claims in this one paragraph that they need to be isolated before I can address them.

  • This occurs in the coverage area of L651C, the pink area, which would be consistent if they were heading back towards Woodlawn from the I-70 parking lot.

The Nisha Call (which did originate on L651C, Murphy got that much right) is in no way consistent with “heading back towards Woodlawn from the I-70 parking lot.” Going by Waranowitz’s records, L651C’s eastern overlap area fell on Woodlawn High School. Someone heading back to the high school from the I-70 Park’n’Ride — which is east and south of WHS — would not be in L651C. However, since the 3:15 and 3:21 calls also originated on L651C, the phone could not have been travelling from east to west at the time of the 3:32 call.

  • “[T]hey then head back towards Woodlawn from the park and ride together. It’s at that point, at 3:32 p.m., that the Defendant calls Nisha in Silver Spring.”

Murphy’s closing argument is a new, never-before-heard version of January 13th. It is not as insane as Jay’s own story, to be sure, but it lacks any basis in the evidence. Contrary to Murphy’s more logical tale, Jay testified that the Nisha Call was made during one of those time warps that so frequently strike Woodlawn. After the Phil Call (at 3:48pm), and after leaving the Park’n’Ride to head south of Leakin Park at Athol Ave., Jay called Patrick (at 3:59pm) to see if he was home. He was not, so they drove all the way back to the north side of Leakin Park to find weed, and while driving along Forest Park Ave., he and Adnan then traveled back in time to 3:32pm, so that Adnan could make friendly chit-chat with Nisha:

KU: What if any phone call did he make?
Jay: To a young lady, I believe somewhere in Silver Spring.  . . .
KU: Do you remember where you were at that time?
Jay: Forest Park Avenue.
KU: And where were you going at that time?
Jay: To buy marijuana. Patrick was not home. (2/04/00 Tr. 136-37.)

Yes, Murphy’s version makes for a much better story than does Jay’s version, but that does not mean there was any evidence to indicate it had actually happened.

Now, at some point in this time frame we know that the Defendant goes to track practice. He tells Jay Wilds I need to be seen. So Jay Wilds takes him to track practice. In the meantime, Jay Wilds goes out to Forest Park looking for marijuana. He makes a phone call to Jennifer Pusateri at that point in time, 4:12 p.m. We know that that call at 4:12 p.m. was in the coverage area of L689C. You see 689 on the top right, the dark brown area on the left side is C. That covers the Forest Park area. That makes sense with what Jay Wilds is telling you.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. At this point in the closing arguments, Murphy was no longer even pretending to describe the trial that had just occurred. Maybe she was reciting the details of Jay’s undisclosed April 13th interview, or maybe she just thought her version sounded more compelling than the witness’s. (If so, I agree with that assessment.) Here is what Jay actually testified to:

KU: What if anything did you do at that point [after the 3:59pm call]?
Jay: That’s when we drove up to Forest Park Avenue.
KU: And what did you do there?
Jay: We purchased marijuana.
KU: When you say we, who do you mean?
Jay: Me and Mr . Syed. . . .
KU: Do you remember where you were when th[e] [4:21] call was made?
Jay: No, I do not.
KU: After you purchased the marijuana, and you purchased it where again?
Jay: In Forest Park.
KU: Where did you go after that?
Jay: We turned and I believe at this time he wanted to get back to track practice because he said he needed to be seen. (2/04/00 Tr. 139, 141-42).

Although Murphy describes Adnan showing up at practice shortly after 3:30pm, Jay himself was clear that Adnan did not show up at track until at least 4:20pm. Murphy also argued that Jay alone went to Forest Park to buy weed, even though Jay testified he had Adnan both did. He even remembered how much each of them contributed to the weed purchase.

At some point in time, the Defendant calls Jay, come get me from track practice. 5:13 p.m., you see that – – of calls that the AT&T engineer described to you. Call no. 18 and 19, this shows he was checking his voice mail.

False. The call was someone leaving a voicemail, while Adnan’s cellphone was out of service range. This was clearly described on AT&T’s communications to the State, but somehow they never noticed that fact.

[Cathy] remembers a conference until 5:30 that. day. She gets home and she sits down to watch “Judge Judy,” and it’s at that point, she remembers, that the Defendant and Jay Wilds come to her apartment and they’re acting so strange.

True to the record, but factually inaccurate. Cathy did remember that Adnan and Jay had visited her apartment on the day that she had been at conference downtown from 9am to 4:30pm. Problem is, that conference was on January 22nd, not January 13th.

Now, [Cathy’s] house, Gateway Terrace, down by UMBC, and Mr. [Waranowitz] put a little circular sticky here on the block where she lives. He also told you that there are two very strong sites, depending where in the block you are, L608C and L655A. Now, look closely at calls 14, 15, and 16. Notice that the cell sites correspond exactly to what he told you, L608C, L655A.

True. But only because the prosecution falsely reported the expert’s findings to the defense. In its disclosures to the defense, the prosecution inaccurately stated that Waranowitz’s testing had determined that L655A covered Cathy’s house. And, at trial, Waranowitz did verbally confirm, when asked, that L608C and L655A covered Cathy’s street. However, his actual test results found it had been L608C and L655B, not L655A. Due to the prosecution’s method of using only “oral expert reports,” which allowed them to control all information from experts that went to the defense, this misstatements of Waranowitz’s results was allowed to occur.

Consider Yung Lee, Hey’s brother, opens the diary, thinks he’s calling Don because on a page scribbled over and over with Don’s name is a cell phone number. He suddenly realizes it’s not Don he’s called, it’s the Defendant, whose voice he knows because he’s called their home before. He asked if he knows where his sister is. What’s the Defendant’s response? Why don’t you try her new boyfriend?

False. Young did not testify to the scene Murphy describes.

KM: What was your conversation about?
Young: It was about my sister, if he knew where she where she could be.
KM: And did he say whether he knew where she was?
Young: No. (1/28/00 Tr. 28.)

Jay is the one who said Adnan suggested that Young  “try her new boyfriend,” not Young himself.  Young did not hear what Jay claimed was said during his phone call with Adnan.

Remember too that [Cathy] heard the Defendant answer a call while he was in her apartment, and what she heard concerned her. He said the police want to talk to me, what should I do? And a third person, Officer Adcock, from the Baltimore County Police who began to investigate this as a missing person, he calls the number because Yung Lee has given it to him. He calls the number and talks to the Defendant on the cell phone. All three of those calls are consistent with those calls that came into [Cathy’s] house.

False: Only two of the calls were consistent with Cathy’s apartment, according to Waranowitz’s testing. More importantly, no one actually heard a sequence of calls that matches the call records. Cathy did not hear those calls because they did not happen on the day Adnan actually visited her apartment, and while Jay may have heard them, he testified to something completely different (something which renders Cathy’s testimony impossible):

KU: And what if anything happened [while at Cathy’s]?
Jay: We smoked a little more. He received a phone call from Hae’s parents asking if he knew where she was. He told them he didn’t know where she was.
KU: Did you hear his conversation?
Jay: Yes.
KU: What did he say?
Jay: He just told them no, I haven’t seen Hae, I don’t know where she is, try her new boyfriend . Then Hae’ s cousin or someone had called ba.ck but it was the wrong number . They thought it was the new boyfriend’s number and it was his cellphone number or something like that.
KU: Did any other calls come in?
Jay: Uh-huh. He received a phone call from a police officer who was asking about Hae. (2/04/00 Tr. 144-45.)

Jay’s story is obviously coached. He has been told about the mix-up with Adnan’s number from Hae’s diary, and incorporated it as a false detail in his story.

And interestingly enough, after the Defendant has this conversation, you know, the police want to talk to me, he jumps up, leaves the apartment. And what’s the next thing he goes to do? He goes to get rid of the body. Now you know by that phone call that somebody else, somebody who hasn’t told you from the witness stand, somebody else knows about this because he sought their counsel, sought their advice in that crucial phone call.

And the next thing he does is goes to get rid of the body, and who does he call? 6:59 p.m., he calls his best friend Yassar Ali. Isn’t it ironic that that is the name that comes up in connection with the anonymous phone call to the police as to who might know something about this?

Ridiculous. And not at all “ironic.” If Adnan has someone he can call up and get advice on how to dispose of a body, then why isn’t that person with Adnan instead of Jay? Jay is literally the world’s worst accomplice. He is useless, won’t dig, argues incessantly, and doesn’t actually provide any assistance. But Adnan knows someone who can advise him on the finer points of getting rid of a body, and he didn’t choose him to be the accomplice?

There is also nothing ironic about the fact that Yaser’s name comes up in connection with the anonymous phone call. The Yaser call did not connect to Yaser’s phone, no call made to Yaser that day did. Yaser also did not call Adnan that day. Which means Yaser has no involvement with Hae’s murder beyond the phone records.

Which raises an interesting question. If the only connection Yaser has to the murder is Adnan’s cell records, could that suggest that whoever made the anonymous phone call had Adnan’s cell records?

At this point in time Jay Wilds knows he’s not going to meet Jennifer as they had previously arranged. So at 7:00 he pages Jennifer Pusateri. He leaves that confusing message that she tells you about. Jay Wilds and the Defendant go to Leakin Park — time. And the next phone call, calls 10 and 11, are crucial. Jay Wilds tells you that as they’re entering the park, preparing to bury the body of Hey Lee, Jennifer Pusateri returns that call.

False. I don’t know what trial Murphy was watching for six weeks, because it wasn’t the one for which we have transcripts. Jay testified that Jenn returned his page while they were digging, not as they were entering the park.

Jay: I had paged Jenn and while we were digging, she had called back, and he just told her he was busy now and hung up the phone. We dug for a little bit and he said that’s good enough. (2/04/00 Tr. 151.)

Murphy’s explanation in closing arguments makes more sense than anything Jay said — because (1) L689B would not have been expected to provide cell coverage at the burial site, but would provide coverage at the park entrances; and (2) who bothers to answer the phone while busy digging a grave, anyway? — but it also has no basis in the trial record.

[Jenn] returns the call because the message is confusing. She knows the cell phone number because it’s on her Caller ID, so she calls the cell phone. Jay doesn’t answer. Jennifer tells you someone else answered and said Jay’s busy right now, he’ll call you back.

False. Jenn did not testify that she “return[ed] the call because the message [wa]s confusing.”  She returned the call because Jay’s message to her pager conflicted with the previous message that Jeff had passed onto her from Jay (2/15/00 Tr. 188; 2/16/00 Tr. 136).

Jenn also testified that she got Adnan’s cellphone number off her caller I.D. (2/15/00 Tr. 188), but can I just take a moment to note how weird this part of Jenn’s testimony is? The whole point of a pager is that you give someone a number where they can call you back. Why is Jenn digging up a number from her caller I.D. from three hours earlier in order to return a page Jay just left her?

Jay Wilds spoke to the detective — I’m sorry. Jennifer Pusitari spoke to the detectives before Jay Wilds did, yet Jay Wilds tells you about the exact same phone call.

False. During Jenn’s first interview, she did not say that ‘someone else answered and said Jay’s busy, he’ll call you back.’ All that she told the police was that she called “his cell phone,” and that the following happened:

Ritz: So you finally got the message straightened out? Then what happened?
Jenn: Right, that Jay would call me when he was ready to be picked up. (Jenn Int. at 13.)

There is nothing about someone other than Jay answering, let alone Adnan answering. There is nothing even about Jay being “busy.” Jenn learned, either from Jay or someone else, that he would call her when he was “ready” to be picked up.

This is hardly proof of Jay and Jenn having consistent stories, because Jay’s first story includes nothing like the call Jenn describes. Only two weeks later did he manage to remember a story even slightly similar.

Not only did she know this person [who killed her], ladies and gentlemen, she cared about this person. You heard how busy she was that afternoon. She had places to be, she had things to do. For her to take time to give anyone a ride, she had to have cared about him enough, and you know from the witnesses that she did. She’d given him a ride just two days prior. It’s in her diary.

Liar, liar, pants on fire. Hae’s last two diary entries are dated January 6th and January 12th. Neither mention Adnan. Her diary does mention that on December 31st she had dropped Adnan off at the Sears near Owings Mills Mall to get his car, but Murphy’s closing twisted this into the claim that Hae had given Adnan a ride “two days prior.”

(Although it should be noted that there is alternative possibility here, to explain Murphy’s misrepresentation to the jury. Maybe there was a diary that mentioned giving Adnan a ride — a diary that was never disclosed to the defense? Perhaps that diary was what Murphy was thinking of? But more on that later.)

It should also be noted that, contrary to Murphy’s closing arguments, Hae did in fact turn down Adnan’s request, because she had “something else” to do. But the defense was unaware of this fact — as far as I have been able to ascertain, no record concerning Aisha and Becky hearing Hae tell Adnan she had something else to do was ever disclosed to the defense.

You know that this person was present at Woodlawn High School because there is only a small window of opportunity — the opportunity is the key word — for this person to get in her car. She had to leave Woodlawn High School and drive immediately to the elementary school to pick up her cousins. That person had the opportunity at Woodlawn High School to stop her and get in her car.

False. Multiple witnesses stated that Hae needed to pick up her cousin at about 3:15 or 3:20 at a day care that was 10 to 15 minutes away. The prosecution argued that Hae left school at 2:15pm. By the State’s timeline, she had 45 minutes to do “something else.” If you’re going by reality and not by the State’s theory, then Hae left school around 2:25 — giving her 35 minutes before she needed to be travelling towards the day care.

And we know too that this person had access to her car. She was killed in her car.

False. All of the State’s evidence to show she was killed in her car is meaningless. There was no evidence that makes it more likely she was killed in her car than somewhere else.

Rebuttal Arguments (Urick)

Urick’s rebuttal arguments were shorter than Murphy’s, but contain more than their fair share of misrepresentations.

KU: And let me give you an example of a type of inference that you can draw from this case. The Defense told you that nothing puts the cell phone between roughly 12:40 and 9:00 into the Defendant’s hands

CG: Objection. That’s not what I argued.

THE COURT: Overruled.

KU: — other than the testimony of Jay Wilds.

False. Admittedly, Gutierrez’s closing is such a disaster that it is hard to know what exactly she did argue, but this appears to the portion of the defense’s closing that Urick is referencing:

And so, they give you a test that tells you — they can’t tell you in whose hand the phone was located. What they suggest to you is the only thing you know are when Jay Wilds could have said in his hands. You know from the records the times these calls were made, either to his cell phone, this one, or from it.

Whatever Gutierrez meant, Urick wrongly characterized her argument by claiming that the defense position was that “nothing puts the cell phone . . . in[ ] the Defendant’s hands” from “12:40 to 9:00.”

Now, there is some other evidence that puts that cell phone into the Defendant’s hands. It’s the pattern of calls: Krista Meyers told you about leaving a message on the Defendant’s voice mail. You see at 5:14 that voice mail is checked. Somebody got into the voice mail to hear the message that was left on the voice mail.

False. Krista did not testify that she left a voicemail before 5:14pm, because she knew she had not been home at that time. Additionally, the 5:14pm call was, as discussed above, a message being left to voicemail, not voicemail being checked. This evidence does not “put the cellphone into [Adnan’s] hands” at that time.

[Krista] remembers talking to the Defendant, that he told her he had talked to the Baltimore County Police and that at the time he was calling her he was in his car. This is at 9:03 and 9:10. Nisha is called at 9:01. That is a pattern of facts from which you can draw an inference. You can draw another inference from that as well. The Defendant was not at the mosque. Everyone told you that the prayer session at the mosque was from 8 till 10, it was 2 hours long and it was a continuous prayer. He is not at the mosque. The cell phone proves he’s not at the mosque.

So misleading as to be false. This is not how prayers at mosque during Ramadan work. The phone records are completely consistent with Adnan being at mosque shortly after 8pm, and popping out to get on his phone once calling was free at 9pm. Urick’s description of “continuous prayer” completely misses the point.

The Defense wants you to think that the State is required to talk to every single person, to look at every little thing. And what do they tell you that the State overlooked? They showed you [Becky’s] journal. Of course, they got it from the State in the first place.

Misleading. Gutierrez failed to make any effective arguments on this point, but the basic evidence that the State failed to check is as long as it is startling. And, Gutierrez’s failings aside, the defense obviously couldn’t raise arguments concerning all the evidence that the State didn’t turn over, because they never knew about those failures in the first place.

The Defense then says well, there was this ATM transaction on January 13th, they could have gone out and talked to the manager, could have done all these other things, that they overlooked all this other stuff.

The defense was right. The prosecution completely believed that the receipt found in Hae’s car proved that her credit card had been used in west Baltimore on the day of her death, and never felt the need to check it out. This is insane, and indefensible. Had the receipt been what the prosecution thought it actually was, the entire case would have been turned on its head.

And how do we know the prosecution never bothered to check the receipt out? Because if they had, they would have realized the receipt had nothing to do with her death. But at the time, they were so scared of what evidence they might find if they looked into the Crown receipt that they simply did not check at all.

Now, what they are doing is saying don’t look at the evidence they actually have, which are all the fingerprint analyses that were done, all of which eliminate any suspect other than the Defendant. Other than the victim’s, his fingerprints are the only ones found in the car. That is a circumstance that you can make an inference from. The fact that it’s on the book, that the page from the Leakin Park map was torn out is another fact that you can draw an inference from.

Liar, liar, all the pants are on fire. Urick straight up lied to the jury during closing arguments, or else he was being willfully careless with the facts. Either way, the result was the same: the jury was falsely informed that there was forensic evidence strongly implicating Adnan in Hae’s murder. Worse yet, the prosecution made this misrepresentation during rebuttal closing arguments, knowing full well that the defense would never get a chance to fact-check those claims.

But the evidence introduced by the State at trial provided no support for Urick’s claims, and based on the print examiner’s testimony, it is hard to see how Urick could have been unaware of that fact:

KM: Thank you. Ms. Talmadge, you examined a number of items in connection with this case. Did they all have prints on them?
Talmadge: No.
KM: What other efforts, if any, did you make to determine the source of remaining prints that were not identified?
Talmadge: Well, there were several prints that were remaining from everything that was processed and also from what Mr. Sanders recovered from the vehicle. The remaining partial latent prints, if they were suitable to go into our computer system, I did enter sixteen prints into the Morpho computer system to see if we could come up with any identifications, and we did not make any identifications off of those remaining prints. (2/01/00 Tr. 31.)

Adnan’s prints were far from “the only ones found in the car.” There were at least 18 unidentified prints in and on Hae’s car, and probably more. (As the prosecution chose to provide the defense with illegible copies of positive print reports, and also chose not to disclose full information concerning the unidentified prints that were found in the car, it is impossible to be certain what all was found.)

KU: You’ve got the hair analyses. And remember what Mr. Bianca told you about his analysis. He told you not that the analysis excluded the Defendant as a suspect but he told you that he could not state that there was a match here because there were not enough of the characteristics that they look to to be able to say there’s a match here.
CG: Objection. That was not Bianca’s testimony.
THE COURT: Overruled. And the jury’s been instructed that what the attorneys say is not evidence. It’s their collective recollection as to what the evidence is. You may proceed, Mr. Urick.
KU: And Mr. Bianca told you that one of these characteristics is pigment color of the hair and he told you that the Defendant’s hair pigmentation and color was unique. He told you those hairs had the same unique pigment coloration as the Defendant’s hairs but there were not enough of the total criteria to say as a conclusion there was a match.

Liar, liar pants on fire. In the forensic reports prepared prior to trial, Bianca concluded that Adnan was excluded as the source of the two hairs in question. The report of his oral statements to the prosecution provided that

[o]nly two hairs were determined to have sufficient characteristics so as to say they were not hairs of Ms. Lee; futher they were not hairs of Adnan Syed.

In his written laboratory report, Bianca likewise concluded that

[n]one of the hairs examined were consistent in microscopic physical characteristics with the head hair sample from Adnan Syed

There was no ambiguity in his wording. The hairs did not match Adnan’s hairs. At trial, Bianca, confirmed that none of the hairs examined were consistent with the samples obtained from Adnan:

CG: And in regard to your December 2nd report, sir, your December 2nd reports, sir, they are stapled together as State’s Exhibit 27(a), and one report is dated 12/2/99, correct?
Bianca: That is correct.
CG: And that’s about the hair, correct?
Bianca: That is correct.
CG: And that says that there are no hairs that are consistent in your analysis with Adnan Syed, correct?
Bianca: That is correct. (2/01/00 Tr. 186-87.)

Concerningly, he also testified to the opposite, on re-direct, but even there, he never said what Urick claimed in closing:

KU: When you examined the sample of hairs from the defendant’s head, what if anything did you notice about the color of the hairs?

Bianca: Well, they were sort of unusual. His hair is black and along the perimeter of the hair shaft there was dark pigmentation on both sides, which is sort of unusual. Two hairs that I looked at had that same characteristic but the hair color was different. It was slightly different in intensity of black. Because of that, I couldn’t make a comparison and say that it was his hair. Now, with the state of the art of hair comparison, our lab no longer calls a hair comparison that used to say matched in all characteristics . We no longer do that. That gives false information in essence. It gives the people the idea that if you say a person’s hair matches, that it came from them, and it doesn’t mean that. It has never meant that. All it means is they have the same characteristics, and hair characteristics are not unique. As I said earlier, a thousand other people could have the same characteristics as another person’s hair.

In other words: the hairs were different colors, but had a similar characteristic. Even with Bianca doing some inexplicable flip-flopping on his conclusions, he still said nothing like what Urick alleged in closing arguments, which was that the hairs “had the same unique pigment coloration as the Defendant’s hairs.”

While on the topic of Bianca, however, I’ll also note that his dramatic shift between his written report and trial testimony was not the only bizarre thing about Bianca’s forensic analysis in this case. Bianca also testified that, after discovering in between the first and second trial that he had screwed up his initial forensic analysis and provided inaccurate reports, he considered simply throwing everything away and hiding his mistake:

Salvator Bianca

I suppose Bianca should be credited for not giving in to his first instinct, but it does call into question the caliber of the scientific analysis being before performed by the Forensic Lab.

The Defense says the State didn’t test suspects. We got Don[‘s] work records showing that he was at work till 6:00 the day of the 13th. His alibi is ironclad.

Misleading. Urick is telling the truth about the State “getting Don’s work records.” After all, based on the sequence of production from LensCrafters, Urick seems to have had a role in ensuring the existence of those cards, which LensCrafters was initially unable to locate. But as for “ironclad”? Hardly. Besides, the State did not even pull those records until a week before the scheduled trial date — that is not evidence that the State, during its investigation, actually inquired into other possible suspects.

And when was this [phone] service taken out? January 11th, two days before the murder. Well, the Defense had people say well, he needed to talk to girls. He went with Hey Men Lee from the spring of 1998 till December of 1999 without a cell phone. He had no problems in that relationship. They say well, he needed it for work. He had been working for four months. And as what? An emergency medical technician who’s trained in how to save lives. He had been able to work satisfactorily for months without a cell phone. He had a pager if they needed to contact him, he had a home phone.

Misleading. The State had Adnan’s home phone records (which, for the record, do not appear to have been disclosed to the defense). They knew which girl Adnan was calling in January prior to getting the cell phone, and why it was he needed to get a cell phone to call her: because it was long-distance and Adnan had racked up a $50 phone bill in just two weeks talking to her. A bill his parents could see.

But besides the perfectly legitimate reason for which Adnan had bought a cellphone, the prosecution’s argument is ridiculous because the cellphone was entirely unnecessary for the murder. Why buy a cellphone so that, after you commit a murder, you can use a payphone to call an accomplice who is sitting next to a landline? Even under the State’s theory of the case, the presence of the cellphone was irrelevant to the commission of the crime.

As to the cell phone, Mr. Abromowitz testified as to the functioning of the system as a test to see — if the witness said the phone was at a particular place and we have a cell phone record, can we test it somehow to see if the system operates that way. He said yes. He said I can go to the same spot and see what signal the phone originates. And he told you it’s the phone that selects the cell tower because it latches onto or identifies the strongest signal that it can.

Well, once we did that, when he went to the Gateway Terrace location where [Cathy] lives, he found  that there were two almost identical strength signals, either one of which a cell phone could originate a call through and that those were cells 608C and 605A. And lo and behold, three calls in the time period that two different witnesses put them at that location, both of those sites originate calls out of this cell phone.

False. The prosecution incorrectly reported Waranowitz’s findings so that they would match the calls on the phone log. However, Waranowitz’s actual results did not match what his testing equipment recorded.

But yes, lo and behold, test results that the prosecution recorded based on an expert’s oral statements were inaccurate in a way that perfectly matched the prosecution’s theory of the case. In the words of Kevin Urick, “That’s a circumstantial fact that you can draw any reasonable inference that you want to [from].”

But you’ve got something else in this case. The Defense says that it was this anonymous tip that made the police fixate on the Defendant. Well, you notice what they overlook is that it’s clear, if you look at that anonymous tip, it didn’t come out of the Woodlawn community, it came out of the Muslim community because it contains information that only people in the Muslim community could have known, such as Yassar Ali’s phone number, which is the same one that’s on the records and also had his name, although the person who took it thought it was a V instead of a Y, so he wrote down Vassar instead of Yassar.

Misleading. Jay also knew Yaser, and they had several friends in common. Jay and Yaser even attended the birthday party of a mutual friend together in late January. Yaser’s number was also listed in the phone book.

And there’s something else that tells you that this was the Defendant, and Ms. Murphy touched on that. It’s the way the crime was committed. This was an intensely personal crime. It took maybe 15 seconds. It took 15 seconds, by the way, to kill Hey Men Lee. Have you ever thought about how much you can think about in 15 seconds? And the person who did this had a lot to think about because this was an intentional, deliberate killing.

False. This claim is still just as false as when Murphy made it.

Now, the Defense told you it’s fantastic that Jay Wilds could look in the trunk of a car for 10 seconds and see taupe stockings and identify Hey Lee. No, it’s not. Not when you’re in a very heightened, traumatic situation. If you’ve ever stepped into the street and seen a car coming for you, your life flashes before your eyes. When you’re in that type of situation, time seems to take forever because you are intensely focused on what’s happening. You pick up details that you normally don’t pay attention to.

Misleading. The fact Jay’s life may have been flashing before his eyes does not explain how he could see that a body that was laying face-down in a trunk had blue lips.

The Defense’s Closing Arguments

You may be wondering how Adnan’s defense attorney responded, in her own closing arguments, to all of these half-truths, misdirections, and lies. Did she point out the prosecution’s misrepresentations? Correct the record concerning the actual forensic evidence? Point out the impossibility of the State’s timeline, and the obvious perjury of its star witness?

Not exactly. Here are some of the devastating arguments that she made instead:

What evidence you have before you is that the records — when this entry was made, at what time of day. The thing that could have clearly established that she signed for whatever purchase added up to 1.71 and that it was the owner of the ATM card that used it on 1/14, 1999, might have been – – even though – – the man on whose testimony they based charging — they never looked at them. They had these. And they’ll say that this is in April they got the records. Assistant State’s Attorney, Homicide Division, Courthouse East, here, this building. And look at the entry that says January 14th, 1.71. Or find out what’s — where is that Crown? Maybe somebody saw her. And at the same time — did nothing — sent to them.

and

In — don’t have a system of — we don’t pick the jurors who are charged by judges to act as referees. We don’t allow subjects charged by the police to have lawyers who have a role — I stand up here because I have a role. You take an oath to listen to the evidence and to listen to me — Detective McGilvery decides that he believes the anonymous call from an Asian male, whoever that is.”

and

Ms. Murphy focuses on, the Tina residence, the young — non-Muslim — who met Adnan at a party on Scarlet Place, right down the street, and likes the attention that a handsome young boy is playing with her this phone as technologic as you get, has on it the scroll system anybody could make that call. But more important, the only – – is Jay Wilds – – this most important call is to Ms. Murphy, go the Tanner residence in Montgomery County, took place at 3:32. Now, according to Jay Wilds, he’s and Adnan — well, I’ll call you around 3:30 — Jay testified how he didn’t call at 3:30. 3:30 came and went, so he got in his car and he started to go, and Jen Pusitari — so according to — Jay Wilds — he was in the car that night – –

and

And based on what Jay Wilds said, they came in the middle of the night — Adnan Syed. And — even if you can get past his story that his urge to urinate is so great, 2.9 miles from his house, right off Dogwood Road, right off of where Dogwood Road intersects with Woodlawn, on which is Woodlawn High School. He had to urinate so bad and he was so concerned, as he said, about this privacy and not being seen that he walked into the woods, 127 feet — him sign this — we never heard and you can’t speculate. But the one thing you can assume, if there was something else there that would hurt Adnan —

If you have had any doubts as to how Adnan was convicted on the basis of such shoddy evidence, I suggest you read the closing arguments in full. Particularly Gutierrez’s closing. After doing so, you will probably figure out why the jury only needed a lunch break to reach a verdict — and it has little or nothing to do with the evidence against him.

-Susan

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178 thoughts on “Serial: Lies, Damned Lies, and Closing Arguments

  1. I am so disturbed by the police and prosecutor’s dishonest actions in this case. It’s completely absurd. Whether Adnan is truly guilty or not, there is basically no evidence that stands the test of time to lead to his conviction. At best it’s extreme incompetence and at worst, bald faced lying. It’s really depressing that the people who are supposed to serve and protect would conduct a case in this way.

    If Adnan gets a new trial, what evidence can they possibly present at this point? They seem to have nothing that isn’t easily refuted. And a legal question. If they were to present a completely different account of their theory in yet another trial, could the defense use all the info they presented in the 1st and 2nd trials, and the lies they told such as you outlined above? I’m not sure what is legally admissible in a case like this?

    Thanks for all your work on this. Truly truly disturbing.

    • This. I refuse to believe the prosecutors were able to pass the bar, but not realize they were lying and cheating constantly throughout the trial. Whether it was altering witness’ testimony, withholding evidence from the defense, or just flat out lying, it’s disgraceful conduct. I believe they knew exactly what they were doing the whole time, and CG was incapable of forming a coherent sentence to call them out on it. I’m not even sure her closing argument was in English.

      I’m curious as well, about what would be legally admissible if Adnan were to secure a new trial. It seems that the defense should be able to use Jay’s perjury, as well as all of the false statements/arguments made by the prosecution to prove they had no idea what actually happened on Jan. 13.

      Love the blog and the new podcast :-). #freeadnan

  2. Wow, just wow. By the time I finished reading this, I didn’t know whether to scream in outrage or weep. Awesome work, Susan. Truly. (One little oopsy…. Change February 13 to January 13.)

  3. This is mind-blogglingly insane. Yet, so many people refuse to open their eyes or ears because… because I don’t know why actually. I am so glad neither me or any family members lived in Baltimore during Urick, Mcgillivray and Ritz reign. Incredibly detailed and unbelievably time-consuming work this must have been. Thank you!!!

  4. OK, that was a really depressing read. I can only imagine what it must be like for people close to this case to have to look at the closing arguments, and how excruciating it must have been for Mr Syed’s friends and family to sit through them. I couldn’t even keep reading. I had to skim over the excerpts, and only did that for the first couple before my brain short-circuited with distress (as though the confusion alone wouldn’t have been enough to short-circuit it).

    I did think of two questions while reading the parts my brain could just about cope with: does the map torn from the book show the bit of Leakin Park that would have been on the most direct route there from wherever the car was supposed to have been when they set out for the park? If not, you can probably say it has no bearing on the State’s version of events (which I think you can already say, but there is just that one little loophole that I can see). And is Patapsco State Park out of cell range? Because you say here that the 5:13 call went to voicemail because the phone was out of range, and Patapsco was originally part of Jay’s story. So maybe he did go there, with the phone, and watch the sunset?

    One observation – in this quote from Murphy:
    ‘But it is clear from these cell phone records that Jay Wilds is nowhere near Hey Men Lie.’
    there is a profoundly Freudian typo. Don’t know whether it’s yours or the court transcript’s, but it couldn’t be more Freudian either way.

    I found myself wondering, as I read this post, whether a concept of ‘unreasonable confidence’ should be introduced to jury trials to balance the concept of reasonable doubt. The juror in this case who spoke on Serial said she trusted Jay because he seemed like the kind of guy you would turn to if you were in trouble, but if they had been told to test their confidence in testimony it may have altered the psychology of her thinking so that she asked herself whether it was reasonable to trust him: was there anything apart from his demeanour that demonstrated his truthfulness?

    And finally, congratulations on Undisclosed. An excellent effort from all involved, and I don’t even mind when you talk too fast – I like that your different personalities really come through – but I’d love it if you could give a summary at the end along the lines of ‘this is what we thought we knew at the beginning, but this is what we now know having tested each point properly’. It would be even better if you could put something visual on the web site (in this case obviously timelines) but I can imagine your collective time is already overcommitted.

    • The Hey Men Lie misspelling caught my eye as well.

      This info is so sad.

      It doesn’t make any sense to me they didn’t charge both Adnan and Jay, unless Jay was a CI, and they were corrupt enough to protect a murdering CI. I don’t think Jay murdered anybody, but I do think he knew. Either the cops told him or he knew before hand.

  5. Sudden thought: is there no mechanism for a judge to call a halt to a trial when it’s blindingly obvious to anyone with a functional neuron that there is something terribly wrong with defense council? CG was well known to the legal fraternity, they can’t have been unaware that something was amiss during that closing. The prosecutors must have been beside themselves with relief when they saw what a mess she was in.

  6. Woah – three bombshells and that’s just my first read!

    “Which raises an interesting question. If the only connection Yaser has to the murder is Adnan’s cell records, could that suggest that whoever made the anonymous phone call had Adnan’s cell records?”

    “Maybe there was a diary that mentioned giving Adnan a ride — a diary that was never disclosed to the defense? Perhaps that diary was what Murphy was thinking of? But more on that later.)”

    “It should also be noted that, contrary to Murphy’s closing arguments, Hae did in fact turn down Adnan’s request, because she had “something else” to do. But the defense was unaware of this fact — as far as I have been able to ascertain, no record concerning Aisha and Becky hearing Hae tell Adnan she had something else to do was ever disclosed to the defense.”

    How many lies, misleading statements, misrepresenting evidence and failing to disclose evidence would be needed to convict an obviously guilty man in a run of the mill domestic violence case? It seems like the answer should be zero. As we can see, the answer is not zero, which calls into question Urick’s whole assessment of the case. I wonder what he really told Asia?

    • “Which raises an interesting question. If the only connection Yaser has to the murder is Adnan’s cell records, could that suggest that whoever made the anonymous phone call had Adnan’s cell records?”

      Moreover, Nisha call from the porn shop, visit to Cathy’s house , Jenn picking up Jay and Adnan from Best Buy sometime and Jenn helping Jay dispose ‘shovel or shovels’ and cloths are carefully choreographed events post-Jan 13 for Plausible Believability. May be many more. One need analyze all things Adnan and Jay did together post Jan 13. More and more it looks like Adnan had been framed.

  7. What a train wreck. Has anyone sat on a jury here? do jurors receive transcripts of the trial during their deliberations? Or are they supposed to do it all from memory and their own notes? Some of these distortions are so subtle that I can understand why jurors might hear them and think the statements sound consistent with testimony (ex: the hair pattern thing). If it was intentional, urick played on flaws of human memory to make his case seem stronger than it was.

    Urick seems shady as fuck. And if anything you said were untrue there would probably be a complaint of libel by now.

    • Jurors do not receive transcripts, which has always seemed crazy to me. I’ve never been a juror, but even with court proceedings/depositions I *participated* in, I need the transcripts to accurately assess what happened!

      If it was intentional, urick played on flaws of human memory to make his case seem stronger than it was.

      That is a very good point; the misstatements do seem to have been phrased in ways that trigger or evoke what the witnesses actually said, while reversing the meaning of their testimony. If that was intentional, it was masterfully done.

      • It does seem crazy! And someone below said that when she sat on a jury she wasn’t allowed to take notes either. With the amount of dense technical and scientific information being presented over long, detailed back-and-forth sessions, I can’t imagine how the jury can have a consistently accurate recollection, nevermind be able to critically consider the arguments.

      • I have an observation as it relates to the coaching by the police. There was mention of a man that was convicted of murdering a drug lord and was released because he was coached. Were there similar tapings on his taped interviews? It seems if the same detective was involved there might be similar methods of coaching on the taped interviews. Just thinking out loud.
        Best,
        Matt Kincaid

        • I would very much love to get my hands on more tape recordings of statements given to Ritz and/or MacGillivary, and have been reaching out to attorneys handling appeals from cases they were involved in, in the hopes that one of them might have a copy. So far, no luck — but if anyone out there knows where I might find some of these old tapes, please get in touch!!

          • Susan, Could you answer- Would it be possible to [now] charge Jenn Pusateri as an accessory? -Or for tampering or anything? I have always had a problem with her- lies, apathy, and willingness to claim to be involved in covering up the murder. Also, I feel like it was mentioned in passing in Serial but not much info was given as to Not her real name Cathy/ Christy being the daughter of a homicide detective. Can you provide more info on that and answer why some people’s names have been public from the beginning and some people Cathy/Christy and Takara have enjoyed anonymity? Last question- 2 parter- was Don’s dad law enforcement also? And can you elaborate on the “assault” he perpetrated on Debbie? Thank you in advance.

    • This is really a very good point, and I have been wondering exactly the same thing while reading this blog post. You’d have to be a real genius to remember everything being said. I’ve been following this case for weeks now and read all blogs of Susan, Colin and Rabia and I agree it’s almost impossible to follow all the sidelines that have been put forward by these bloggers. For a juror a case like this must be hell, especially with a defence counsel as weak a GC. For them it’s impossible to have noticed all the weak points, misleadings and lies of the procsecution. After all that’s the role of the defence counsel, and it’s such a shame she failed that bad.

  8. “It should also be noted that, contrary to Murphy’s closing arguments, Hae did in fact turn down Adnan’s request, because she had “something else” to do. But the defense was unaware of this fact — as far as I have been able to ascertain, no record concerning Aisha and Becky hearing Hae tell Adnan she had something else to do was ever disclosed to the defense.”

    But contrary to Aisha and Becky, Adnan told Det. Adcock on January 13, 1999, when his memory could not have been fresher, that he got detained and Hae got sick of waiting for him. Things that make you go hmmmm.

    • I was thinking that the defense should have known that Hei turned Adnan down when the other thing she had to do surfaced. Obviously Adnan would know that detail and tell CG himself.

      Am I missing something here?

    • JaneDoe,
      While it is true that Adcock testified that Adnan had originally told him that he had asked for a ride from Hae on January 13th, Adnan himself later said that is not something that he would do because he drives his own car. Adnan in effect has contradicting statements in the record.

      I have always discounted the controversy around Adnan asking for a ride though as Hae was seen leaving school with no one in her car, and that Hae had alledgedly said no…

      What I find somewhat disturbing however is that Jay in his taped police interview said that Adnan planned to ask Hae for a ride in a premeditated plan to murder Hae.

      Speaking as a believer in Adnan’s innocence, hearing Jay make that statement (after listening to episode two again) is, possibly independent confirmation of Aisha and Becky’s statements that Adnan did/would in fact ask for a ride for this nefarious purpose.

      What I would like to know is how much contact Jay had with Aisha and Becky and their crowd after Hae’s body was found. Could he have heard about the gossip at Woodlawn regarding a the issue of getting a ride or not and then incorporated that in his narrative with his police? Is it just coincidence that Jay made this up?

      Susan and Sarah have pointed out the few things that remain constant in Jay’s interviews and testimony, but this fact should also be added to that very short list…

      • Actually Jay in his first taped interview (28th Feb) said that he had no idea how Adnan got into Hae’s car. The asking for a ride made it into his 2nd taped interview though (15th March).

        • Sue,
          Just listened (again) to Serial Episode 12: What We Know, Dana, “the Mr. Spock of the Serial Staff” clearly states that Jay in his first taped interview that Adnan’s plan was that he was going to claim that his car had broken down and that he was going to get in her car to commit the crime.

        • Sue,
          I apologize, I just read the transcript of Jay’s first statement to the police, and you are correct that he does not mention gettin into her car in the first interview.

          • No apology necessary. I think this backs up your original point though – did information about the ride arise from somewhere between Jay’s first and second interview? And if it did – who knew about that info? Jay? or the cops?

          • Sue,
            Can you please help me out? I have read that Jay & Jenn said that they went to Stephanie’s house between 8 and 9 p.m. on the 13th. Stephanie however says that Jay came by around 11 p.m.
            The trial transcripts that Rabia post are incomplete and I can find no record of that. What we do know is that Jay rarely mentioned Stephanie in his transcripts outside of buying her a present….yet they are in a High School relationship and it is her birthday! no mention that he was thinking of her while driving around aimlessly is strange. That his first contact with her is that late in the day?
            Are there transcripts that contain Stephanie’s testimony anywhere? I am unable to lcoate them. Please let me know if you can, thanks, Sean

          • Sadly Sean, I only have whatever’s been publicly published so far 😦 As far as I know Stephanie never testified at trial. My understanding though is the same as yours, Jenn and Jay in their police statements say they saw Stephanie mid evening. Stephanie says it was late evening.

          • Stephanie had a basketball game that day and didn’t get home until late. This was mentioned on”Undisclosed” and the podcast stated it was backed up by school records and Stephanie’s police statement. ‘re:Jay mentioning that he knew ahead of time about Adnan ask I.g Hae for a ride, he blows that away in the Intercept interview when he says that he didn’t know ahead of time about the murder. I’ve always wondered about that Intercept interview….since a lawyer knew about it, and Jay perjured himself and completely changed the story about the trunk pop AND the burial. Why do that when Adnan was convicted on the story told at trial? Is it possible that a lawyer would suggest that this was a way to keep Jay out of prison and possibly get Adnan out of prison (since the knew he was innocent) by planting some nuggets in the story that changed the time of burial AND took away the premediation aspect of the conviction?

  9. This is disgusting. The prosecution must have known they were lying. Which suggests they were confident the defence would miss it or not call them out on it. It’s as if Adnan’s defence was so clearly inadequate, even at the time, that the prosecution used it as part of their strategy.
    Should there not be some professional consequences for this behaviour?
    Thank you for your work on this. It is painful to see all of the misconduct and irresponsibility in this case, I can’t imagine what the families are feeling if they are reading this. Is there a single thing that wasn’t lied about or manipulated in this case?
    This was so far from justice that it is cruel. There should be consequences. If there is any concept of justice left in that state, there needs to be consequences. 😦
    I can not accept that even the prosecution believed their own case.
    It would have been more justifiable to charge Jay. I can’t help but think they were protecting him for some reason (like in the case with Duke and Eddie). Informant maybe.
    But it’s not just Jay, the whole thing is pathetic, and it seems clear that the prosecution knew.
    This could all go the way of the WM3, an Alford plea so the state can save face, and the killer will never be found. This is no justice for Hae and her family. A potentially innocent man in jail, or losing any hope of closure (even if it may be misplaced), that is a cruel position to be put in. The investigators and prosecution are to blame for this, (untested evidence etc.) and it is shameful. The only “happy” ending I can think of (aside from Adnan’s release), is some disbarment or pergury charges against the prosecutors. Is that at all likely given the evidence?
    Thanks again. I can’t imagine this is easy.

  10. Truly staggering to read. I, too, immediately noted a couple of points: the suggestion that whoever made the anonymous phone call might have had access to Adnan’s cell records, and the State possibly referring to another HML diary. The first relates again to inside information, which follows something that I highlighted in the transcript from Ep 1 of Undisclosed (how Det MacGillivary seemed to feed information he shouldn’t have had to Cathy). The second makes one wonder about HML’s computer, about which we’ve heard very little, perhaps because it seemingly “vanished.” What else of interest was on it? I hope we learn more about both. In the meantime, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to shake the feeling that something nefarious is at the heart of this matter.

    • I reread your post “Serial: Adnan Was the Prime (and Possibly Only) Suspect in Hae’s Murder Even Before the Anonymous Phone Call.” The anonymous call is looking even more sketchy.

  11. Hard to be sure how much of the word salad is from Gutierrez and how much from a possibly drunk stenographer. In any case, I wonder whether this was a real courtroom or a bunch of elementary school kids playing at it.

    • LOL Are there any recordings (or transcripts) of Gutierrez when she was a “case winning” lawyer? Would be interesting to hear/see the difference…Would it not?!?

    • Closing arguments were all on the same day – back to back to back and it is likely the same stenographer. Murphy’s and Urick’s closing arguments are fairly clear with very few words missing, yet CG’s is fragmented with tons of “–” and trailing sentences.

      We’ve all heard her voice in Serial during this trial and her voice is so grating and slow – there is no way she was speaking too fast for the stenographer or not clearly enough since all of her other stuff was clearly recorded in the previous days and trial.

      It seems almost as if she didn’t prepare and kept loosing her train of thought, trailing off without finishing her line of reasoning, and moving onto the next point.

      • I’m in neuropsych, and while I don’t do much with neurodegenerative disorders (my focus is anxiety and trauma) the literature comes across my desk. There has been significant recent research demonstrating a correlation between early life limited language and late life dementias, and writing samples have been used to track the course of neurodegeneration. (Agatha Christie is the prime example, because her last book was written when she was transitioning between early and middle dementia, and her lost language is clear when comparing her last book to her earlier ones. Also, she seems to have been aware of her cognitive losses, though not the why or degree.)

        It’s a pretty simple statistical model that compares unique words, sentence length, complexity and thought completion. Ms Guttierez would actually be an excellent candidate for linguistic degeneration analysis because she had a long career in which she frequently spoke at length, in highly similar circumstances, with transcription. I wouldn’t use her written work because a law practice tends to be collaborative, but her opening and closing statements throughout her career would have been primarily her own work since those are more extemporaneous speaking than prepared oratory. We also have some indicative medical data on her, via her son, which means we have some rough benchmarks.

        I don’t know if linguistic analysis could be used now to show that she was having cognitive difficulties then, and I don’t know if the courts would accept it as evidence of IAC (given that apparently, one’s defense counsel can be drunk, asleep or in surgery and still be considered effective…) but the research model exists. To my knowledge, it has never been applied to MS, only Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, but as grad student projects go, this is a pretty cheap one and builds on current work.

    • If you listen to the Serial podcast (can’t recall which episode, sorry) there is a recording of Cristina Gutierrez and she sounds either drunk, or insane. Theres precious little reassuring sounding at all, and I remember thinking ”wtf is she on about?” So I’m presuming the jury had as much difficulty understanding her.

  12. A little more explanation is in order about that first point, about how long the strangulation would take. It took me a third and fourth reading to figure out just what you were saying Dr. Korell was saying, and what you were saying Murphy was saying.

    Dr. Korell seems to have had a hidden assumption that the pressure would continue to be applied long after the 10 seconds, though it’s not in the quote.

    Otherwise, a very interesting post.

    • It would take 10 or 15 seconds for you to lose consciousness (at best) due to the fact that your carotid arteries were occluded and no blood was making it to your brain. After you pass out, in order for you to die, they have to continue to apply the same amount of pressure for several minutes.

      Strangling someone is going to be a huge fight for the first 20 or 30 seconds until they pass out (someone flailing about and fighting you isn’t going to make it easy to cut off the carotids fully) and then you have to keep the pressure on for a good 4 or 5 minutes to ensure they are dead (because if the heart isn’t stopped, as soon as you let go blood will rush back into their brain and they will be left in a coma, likely with permanent brain damage).

  13. I too am wondering about Hae’s computer. Always thought it was fishy it just disappeared. I was on a jury for a murder trial and we did not get any transcripts what so ever. We also at that time could not take notes. Honestly, many jurors go by the opening and closing statements of the attornies even though she shouldn’t. They listen to the “stories” as many times they get lost in the details. I was getting lost with the cellphone tower testimony and I have more knowlege today then they did back in 2000 at trial time. If it makes sense to the jurors they will go with it. Since the proscution lied, twisted testimony, false evidence, it is no wonder the jury found him guilty. After CG droning on and on and on about nothing half the time, I am sure the jury was very happy to just say guilty. Sadly, what was presented then did get him convicted. If not for Rabia, Susan and Colin, none of this evidence, lack of, lies, etc. would be uncovered. Now, do I think he is innocent… I cannot in good conscious say he is. Not at this time. I wish I could, but I have doubt.
    NavyMom

  14. Gutierrez’s closing argument is such a mess that I can’t help but think that perhaps entire words, phrases and maybe even sentences were not picked up by the stenographer. If the transcripts were made off a recording of the trial, and not transcribed in real time in the court room, perhaps the tape was defective and random portions of the audio were skipped? While it is not surprising to me that some incoherence would exist in her closing (given her confusing cross examinations), there is a level of incoherence in these transcripts that doesn’t seem possible.

    • I think you are correct. I have a feeling she was moving around the courtroom, which is a recipe for bad audio. She needed time to “set up” beforehand, making me think she had some sort of displays she was using that she might have been moving between. I also noticed that her argument to the court from the trial table moments before her closing was fully coherent. The transcript was made from a recording (it says so on the last page.) I certainly don’t think her closing was fantastic, by any means, but I think if we had the missing words it would help!

      • I’m sure that didn’t make it easy to transcribe, but I don’t think that is the explanation here since the entire rest of the trial is much, much more clear. Generally if an attorney is going to be all over the place for closing, they are going to do the same thing while opening and during witness examination. If the audio was bad, it likely would have been bad for Urick and Murphy too.

        Not to mention CG is extremely loud and grating – even if she was far from the mic I don’t think all that much would be missed. There are places where there are a few missed words and you can tell that is what it is, since it makes sense. But there are SO many places where the entire line of reasoning just trails off and makes no sense at all. The points she was making were weak and not delivered forcefully – even with missing words and sentences you would be able to tell if she gave a good closing.

        • I was a UK court shorthand writer (equivalent to US stenographer). I’ve written some comments further down this post. The terrible, incoherent statements by CG are very strange. They’re so unintelligible it seems remarkable to me that no explanation is offered by the transcription company. If the stenographer’s notes were lost (and that would amaze me ‘cos our notes were locked away securely immediately a notebook was filled until a transcription was needed and locked away after being transcribed) and the tape was inaudible when CG was addressing the court that might account for the quality of the transcript. The speech seems exceptionally poor. It’s weird.

  15. Hi Susan — amazing work as always! A couple questions for you, and I apologize if these have been answered previously…

    1) Does your team think that CG’s speech patterns during her closing were due to aphasia triggered by an MS flare-up? There is growing documentation about aphasia experienced by those with severe MS, as well as other stroke-like symtoms that exhibit during MS flares, and her speech patterns and lack of recall certainly seem to resemble it. Also — purely speculative here — if she was also experiencing dysarthria (another common symptom) and was aware of it, the abnormally loud volume of her speech may have been a conscious attempt to mask it.

    2) Do we (or can we) know for sure that Jay didn’t give Adnan’s cellphone to someone else for part of the day? Or is that for a future episode 🙂

  16. unbelievable. can Adnan add into his ineffective assistance of council claim that his lawyer was completely unintelligible? whether due to her illness or not, I can’t help but feel a trained monkey could have done better… or me, and I only have a lifetime of Law and Order episodes as training. I keep remembering back to Dierdre Enright and her team discussing their concerns about the evidence (or lack thereof) in this case and all the things that you have found made it very clear that his lawyer was simply not up to her job here. yes, the prosecution played fast and loose with the rules of discovery, but isn’t the defense also able to do their own investigations as well? or even at the time of trial, every time a new piece of evidence didn’t fit with something that had been presented before, didn’t someone notice? by the second trial CG should have had a laundry list of ways that she could refute the state’s case just from what was presented before. it’s frightening to think that a high cost, high powered attorney could have done such a shitty job. Adnan would have been better off with a hungry young lawyer or a PD who paid attention to all the inconsistencies and hammered home the problems in the states case. no one should have been convicted with this evidence, and truly, Gutierrez is to blame for Adnan’s conviction.

    • To be fair, her son has said that he thinks her symptoms began around 1998, she was diagnosed in 2001 and by 2003 her cognition had failed to the extent that she didn’t even know his name. That is a very rapidly progressing form of MS and it is therefore possible that her cognition could have been deteriorating before the trial, throughout and beyond without her fully understanding what was happening. The disease also causes fatigue so she may have struggled to keep up with her work and stay prepared.

      Adnan deserved a fair trial which he did not get and should receive, but Gutierrez also deserves some fair evaluation of her weak defence. She was previously described as being one of the most feared criminal defence attorneys in the US, widely regarded as a keen and fierce defender of justice, an able communicator and sensitive to her clients to the point that she treated them like family. You can read an obit online where a Judge who knew her said that he would have gone to her if he were ever charged with a serious crime. She was respected. I think it is worthwhile to think about why she suddenly became incoherent, disorganized and shifty and what role her physical and emotional health may have played during that time.

      Just my two cents.

      • PS

        Gutierrez is to blame for Adnan’s conviction

        I think there is an interesting discussion about how we ascribe blame. I think cause and fault or not necessarily the same thing.

        • If everything is true in reference to CG health deterioration and symptoms, it is even more of a reason why this needs to be reviewed by the courts and a new trial granted.

      • I think you’re right. I’m an attorney, and I hope I will know if I ever become unable to represent my clients because of age or health or some other reason. I’ve had clients with MS and during flare ups they’ve become argumentative, not entirely rational and difficult to deal with. I can see how she may have thought she was doing fine and dismissed suggestions (if there were any) by colleagues that she wasn’t up to it.

    • I agree. I am reading all the comments about CG and while I agree, her illness rendered her ineffective as counsel, but I all of that was out of her control. It seems the Urick- and Murphy, as well, knowingly misled jurors, failed to examine critical evidence, tampered with evidence, intimidated witnesses (the situation with the records from LensCrafters was really troubling to me) and sabotaged discovery attempts (specifically telling analysts not to write things down). All of these acts were thoughtful and deliberate. So even though I agree Adnan didn’t receive adequate counsel, I think the issue is also his malicious prosecution. He didn’t get a fair trial on either side. I am surprised the Maryland Attorney General hasn’t taken to investigate the abuse of power. Letters should be written to this person demanding a thorough examination and yes, brgulker, to #prosecuteurick!

  17. Just read Adnan’s appeal document and then looked at a short youtube of Kathleen Murphy. Needed to verify she’s an actual human. Her summation is wrong on so many things, and yet she’s so dead certain that the 17-yr-old she helped lock up deserves to be in maximum security until he dies there. I suppose you need that level of can’t-be-wrong-ever in your personality to do the work she does, but man . . . she’s responsible for a pretty devastating mistake.

    • Wow. Very well put. I get sick in my stomach whenever I read anything from her or Urick. I think they are twisted.

      • They are TYPICAL prosecutors. A guilty verdict to them… any guilty verdict… is like their child…. they will defend it irrationally to their death.

  18. Very interesting info on Cathy’s house, and the likelihood that this trip never happened on that day… That had always been one of the very few undisputed events in the timeline. Didn’t Adnan even remember receiving the police call while at Cathy’s? You have exposed error in every testimony in the case – we literally have no idea what happened that day at this point. What is left to go on?

    I have to say, if the Cathy’s House trip is based in faulty memory (like so much else in this case), I have very little faith remaining in any witness testimony, ever. How can our court system still rely so heavily on witness testimony if it has potential to be this wrong? I guess this case is special in that the cell records were misinterpreted to make it “seem” like they corroborated the stories? Otherwise, it would all just be hearsay?

      • Thank you for this response – it actually makes me feel a little better that Adnan remembers something different, so there is something to go on.

        Like so many witnesses and juries, I didn’t recall that information. You rock, Susan.

  19. Have you listened to this new podcast about the Syed case. If not just click on Undisclosed and it will take you there.

    Sent from Windows Mail

  20. I used to be a UK court shorthand writer and we used to follow these procedures. The very best shorthand writers are assigned to courts dealing with the most serious cases so I would expect the stenographer to have been one of the best and most accurate reporters. We used to have a tape recorder as back-up to our records. Court proceedings were not allowed to start without the stenographer being present so I am surprised that there is a reference to the transcript being only that of a tape recording. We kept tapes and shorthand notes securely stored so they couldn’t easily be lost. I can’t explain why the stenographic records would not be there to support the tapes. A shorthand writer was assigned to a court for the whole day so if the speeches of some speakers are good and terrible with CG I suspect that that’s because the records are fairly accurate. I am a little confused by the dashes in CG’s transcribed comments. If we couldn’t hear a word or words we wrote (inaudible) in the transcript so it was clear that words were missed out. Also, if you couldn’t hear a speaker or they were speaking too fast then you’re (obviously) supposed to ask the speaker to repeat their comments or slow down. However, CG does not appear, from tapes, to be a quietly spoken person nor a fast speaker. If the tapes are backed up by stenographic or shorthand notes I would, however, be interested to know whether the system by which the verbatim notes were taken down. Sometimes it is possible to misread shorthand so I think, if the tape was inaudible, there may be a few errors in transcription of the shorthand note. Also, very few people – even lawyers – can talk without cutting off lines of thought or interjecting sentences with personal phrases such as “you know” “sort of” etc and it does appear that CG has had various lines of thought and discontinued them and various favorite phrases (which have been accurately recorded. Stenography/shorthand writing court proceedings is a very physical and tiring job so we usually did two days on court duty and three days transcription. If the stenographer was tiring, or, frankly, not up to the job, then maybe the records weren’t good. Also, I think lawyers can walk around US courts so, if that was happening, then a poor inaudible tape combined with poor notes might make for a poor record of CG’s real speech. I don’t know. Finally, as other commentators have noted, MS can cause confusion and muddled speech and even, sadly, difficulties in thought processes so maybe some of that was coming through too. What is clear is that the transcript is either a complete mess because the stenographer or her/his equipment was not up to the job, or CG’ s comments are a mess or its a bit of both.

    • I’ve just remembered that before we released any transcripts we used to have all transcripts checked over by a senior shorthand writer. I would read my transcription and they would check it against my notes so the transcription notes will have been checked over for accuracy and errors amended. Also, notes were checked against tapes so the more I think about it, I’m afraid I think that CG did a poor job. Once again, Adnan was unfortunate.

      • Yet, as far as what I have read and listened to Adnan has not said a disparaging word about CG. She left him incommunicado during both trials . She milked his parents of thousands and thousands of dollars for representation that was unfortunately for everyone, far less than her pit-bull reputation. I am mostly #freeadnan but have moments (mostly after visiting the sub-reddit community) of a doubt or two. However, after all is said and done, I think the character of Adnan is that the 17 year old’s hands would never kill anyone .

        • I think Rabia has said that the positive comments Adnan made about CG on Serial were said from the perspective of a 17 year old, never in trouble before, not understanding the system, and being told he has one of the best lawyers around but now he sees through the promotional spin. I’m utterly convinced Adnan is innocent.

        • She was also extremely kind to him, apparently. It’s not surprising that despite the outcome he maintains some fondness for her.

  21. I remember scoffing at the comment in early episode Serial about how people thought CG threw the case so she could make more money on the appeal. It sounded ridiculous. But if you watched her performance and were unaware of her health issues…. what else would you conclude??

  22. CG closing arguments literally make no sense at all. They are not even arguments. As Lizzy said, either the transcript is incorrect, or there is something very, very obviously wrong with her mind. Sad story all around.

    • So I went and read her full closing arguments from the transcript (not just the incoherent fragments Susan quoted above). There are clearly gaps in the transcript. There are missing words and parts of sentences. If we were to fill the gaps, it might have made the arguments a little bit more coherent, but not by much.

  23. Confused about something on ‘undisclosed’ – is it true to deduce that the police called Cathy in for an interview before they had heard about the ‘Cathy visit’ from Jay’s interview?

  24. Yesterday, the Case In Point podcast uploaded a new episode featuring Rabia Chaudry.
    It was taped on March 26th.
    In the episode, Rabia states (7:25 in the video):
    We have a lawyer, Susan Simpson, who has been investigating and blogging about the case independently completely since the show started and she now is kinda directing our private investigator. We’ve asked her to do that…
    But nearly three weeks later, Susan Simpson claimed the following in a blog comment:
    Colin and I do not work for the Adnan Syed Trust, nor do we have any affiliation with it.
    No more than the Serial team is affiliated with Mail Chimp. We’re three lawyers exploring what we’ve found about the case, and our thoughts and conclusions about that evidence — we’re not trying to be anything else. If you don’t want to hear what we’ve found, then no, you probably will not like the podcast!
    Why is a corporate attorney directing a professional private investigator paid for by the Syed Trust in a murder case?
    Why did Susan Simpson lie about her affiliation with the Syed Trust and the defense? Not only is she affilated, she’s literally guiding the effort!

    • Rabia asked if I’d be willing to use my knowledge of the case to offer suggestions on where to prioritize investigative efforts, and I agreed to use the research I’ve done to help out. I have no relationship or obligations to the trust — my role consists of telling Rabia, “Hey, have you tried looking here yet? Because if not you should try doing that.”

      • Because he thinks he’s uncovered a deep dark secret that Rabia and I were hiding. You can tell it was a secret because of how Rabia publicly mentioned it on a podcast.

        I don’t work for the trust or have any relationship with it, and what Gordon is referring to is a correction I made to an article than inaccurately claimed I did. Rabia and I do talk a lot about the investigation into Adnan Syed’s case, which probably should be obvious, seeing how we are co-hosts of a podcast about the investigation into Adnan Syed’s case. I also give advice and suggestions for use by the PI, because at this point I have a pretty thorough grasp of the factual record and can help out that way — and it means I get to see some of the things I’m most interested in get further investigated. But I’m not part of the trust and have no obligations to serve its interests, and the trust accepts or rejects my suggestions as it sees fit.

        • I’m not sure I understand why it matters. Is there some sort of conflict of interest present? After reading some of your blog posts early on, they were wise to listen to your thoughts as it has proven beneficial.

  25. Susan,
    I have to say, you are one hell of a researcher! I am enjoying Undisclosed very much. The amount of work that You, Rabia and Colin have been putting into this case, is nothing short of a miracle , for Adnan. I for one feel he will be exonerated! Since this is my first post, I’m not going to ask questions yet, although I have many ☺️.
    However, I would like to say that, the BPD, the State, Jay and Jenn sure know how to play stupid well. Thanks to the three of you, you are proving that! #FreeAdnan
    And RIP Hae Min Lee

  26. Sorry I also meant to add Jim Gordon to that list of stupid people… If he is whom others are assuming that he is… Then he is ignoring the fact that, his poasts can be traced.

  27. Hi Susan,
    Great work as usual! What are the possible consequences for a prosecutor making “material misstatements of fact in summation”? Can a (competent) defense attorney object or protest to the court in some other way? After the fact, if they are shown to have lied during closing about material issues, what are the possible ramifications?

  28. Susan, you are amazing. I had to read this in short chunks over the course of two days because it was making me so sad/frustrated. It blows my mind that these misrepresentations (and sometimes outright fabrications) were allowed to stand. As you noted, no wonder the jury landed where they did – especially having no notes or transcripts. Thank you for highlighting that Urick and Murphy had no issue mangling the truth and avoiding evidence contrary to their narrative(s). I understand they had/have a tough job (and I am a layman without a thorough understanding of their legal obligations), but their conduct seems completely unacceptable.

    Of course, my heart goes out to Adnan for all the obvious reasons … but I also think about Hae, and her family. No one won here but the prosecution, if you can call this situation a “win.”

  29. The first podcast of Undisclosed discusses how the adnan and Jay may not have been at cathy’s in the early evening of the 13th January. What I find interesting is why Adnan had believed that he was there that evening, when you point out that he probably wasn’t. The only thing I can think of is that he can’t tell the truth. We know that he was with Jay because he remembers that. Adnan has to go along with the Cathy apartment story because the truth is obviously incriminating for him. I believe he and Jay were in on the Hae murder from the very beginning, it was orchestrated between them. There is no other way in explaining it. Jay has done everything to try and reduce his part in it and that is probably why Jay came up with the Cathy apartment story as opposed to saying, ‘yeah me and Adnan were out trying to plan for the burial, organise shovels etc’. Adnan can’t tell the truth either, obviously, so he goes along with the Cathy apartment story too. Why does jay’s story change so much – because he is trying to work through it and reduce the impact of his involvement in the murder of Hae. Maybe you should ask Adnan why he lied about being at Cathy’s apartment on the 13th. Due to incompetent police work, Jay is walking the streets. He should be behind bars with Adnan.

    • Adnan never took a stand in either of his trials. Did he ever go on record admitting that he was at “Cathy”‘s apartment with Jay on the 13th? if he didn’t, then he’s neither admitting nor denying it. He may have remembered the fact he’s been there but not the day.

      I believe Adnan has something to hide about the nature of his relationship and dealings with Jay – simply put, I believe they were in business to sell pot together – but I do not believe he has anything to do with Hae’s murder.

    • And Jay’s testimony changes because it needs to match cell phone records, with cops mistakenly thinking they point to Cathy’s apartment. Hence the story of a trip to Cathy’s which likely did not happen that day.

    • The potential testing of evidence by the defence (eg. scrappings under Hae’s fingernails) that was never originally tested by the prosecution, seems to not have progressed. Rabia has lately stated that she is worried about contamination of the evidence. I find this absolutely ridiculous. If Deirdre Enright was told this by all the cases she looked at, there wouldn’t be an Innocence Project. If the evidence was contaminated, wouldn’t the prosecution have had it tested.
      I’m not a lawyer and far from it , but I imagine there is no reason why the testing of evidence couldn’t proceed alongside any of Adnans current appeals.
      Question for Susan or anyone who can answer:
      could the prosecution seek to have this evidence retested now. I would have thought it would be a worthwhile exercise for the prosecution to have it re-tested.

      • Anyone feel free to correct me, but I believe Adnan’s lawyers have suspended testing the DNA evidence because his current appeal will be heard (Ineffective Assistance of Council). Adnan himself declared he wanted the DNA tested, and the IP was ready to set that in motion when the court agreed to hear his appeal. I think this is a strategic move on their part, leaving the option to move forward with the testing if Adnan’s appeal is denied. I also don’t think there’s anything preventing the DNA being tested alongside his current appeal.

        The prosecution could have had the DNA evidence tested, but at the time they were so afraid that it will exonerate Adnan that they never did. If the DNA didn’t point to Adnan it would have been even more difficult to get a jury to convict him. And as Susan has pointed out in many different posts, the prosecution already had their work cut out for them making Jay’s ever-changing story match up with the phone records. Since Adnan has already been convicted, I’m sure the prosecution doesn’t feel the need to test it. I don’t know if a negative DNA match is enough to overturn Adnan’s conviction on it’s own. It would probably have to match someone else to make much of a difference.

        • @sourpatch
          Why would it be a ‘strategic’ move. What is strategic about it?
          What that maybe they think Adnan might be guilty and if they tested it, it would blow up in his face?
          You say it wouldn’t make much of a difference if the DNA was negative to Adnan. I don’t believe that, isn’t anything in his favour a bonus considering he has spend 15 years in prison…
          If he is innocent, why wouldn’t they test it now to gain valuable time considering it would take to get it tested, incase the IAC appeal fails.
          Why wouldn’t the prosecution get it tested now considering Adnan might be exhonerated / off to a retrial?

          • I think it’s strategic because if his appeal is denied, it gives them another avenue to pursue. If his appeal results in a new trial, IMO they don’t need to get the DNA tested to provide a jury with reasonable doubt. I think no matter what, the DNA will still get tested. I’m not a lawyer, so again, this is just my opinion based on things I’ve read about the case.

            I meant it wouldn’t make much of a difference legally if the DNA was not a match. Since he has already been convicted, the DNA under her fingernails or on items found near the body does not prove he didn’t kill her. If Adnan is granted a new trial, the DNA evidence will make a HUGE difference. Until then, I don’t think it’s enough to overturn his conviction.

            The prosecution probably sees no reason to get it tested until a new trial is granted. Until then, the DNA evidence is pretty meaningless IMO, unless the DNA under her fingernails is a match to someone else. The prosecution has already “won”, so they won’t touch the case until that changes.

        • You are right. If his appeal is successful and he gets a new trial, the dna may or may not be tested. It’s a question of resources. If they need it, they’ll have it tested. None of this stuff is cheap.

        • IMO, I don’t think the prosecution ever wanted or wanted it tested, for fear that it would show the possible evolvement if their key witness, that could also possibly cost the state a lot of money!

  30. I am a defence attorney in Australia, ( appearing in trials including murder) and like many others, have been fascinated by this series. I am however horrified by your account of your judicial system and the blatant disregard of prosecutorial obligations. This would not be permitted here and would most certainly be a basis for overturning the verdict on appeal had the errors not been corrected. The Defence has the last say in the closing address to the jury . If the prosecution misstates evidence during an address, we ask the judge to correct the error and many judges would be highly critical of the prosecution in front if the jury. ( we send juries out for legal argument). I can’t conceive how the misstatement of evidence could have continued. You guys are doing an amazing job. I understand the huge effort this must take and your analysis of the evidence is very impressive ( but should have been done by Adnan’s attorney). We also have a very high obligation on prosecution disclosure which has to be made fully well before a trial ( or time is given to the Defence to meet last minute disclosure).
    A couple of questions – were Jay’s interviews played in court? I understand they reveal coaching ( the ‘tap’ finding by you is impressive). Is it part of the direct ( we call it evidence in chief)?
    A question that puzzles me is why would have Adnan asked Hae for a lift at all on 13th if he was staying at school for athletics training and Jay was subsequently picking him up? I know Adnan says he hadn’t, but there seems to be some evidence that he had ( based on your accounts that friends heard Hae telling him she no longer could, as something had come up).
    The choking scenario in the car is blatantly absurd as is almost everything said by Jay.
    Finally, great work on the cell tower records. I recently won a huge drug supply trial by exposing the misuse by the crown of such records.
    If I can help in any way ( eg sending cases on appeals against prosecution misconduct), please let me know.

    • I would love to hear more about how cellsite location data has been used in Australia. Trying to find examples of these kinds of cases has been surprisingly hard!

      The interviews weren’t played in court. The ride issue has as many stories as we’ve got witnesses, but at least two witnesses say Adnan would regularly have Hae drop him off at that track, which could be what’s going on, and other witnesses who says he got rides all the time but don’t specify why.

      • Just curious . . . have you ever asked Sarah Koenig if she’s able to share (or let you listen to) any of the tapes she made with Adnan himself? I’m asking because that clip she played where he’s so emphatic about never ever ever asking for a ride was — according to her — what he said the on very first of “many” times they discussed it. I’d love to know what else he said on the subject.

        • I wonder whether what Adnan is saying is that he did not ask for a lift anywhere off campus, which is what the state is arguing he did. Witnesses say he regularly got rides to track practice but there is a difference between a short ride around the school grounds and a ride away from the school to somewhere else. It’s quite likely he never did ask for a ride away from the school – when they were dating he probably didn’t have to ask as they would presumably make plans together, and after they broke up there was probably no reason to ask. It is also likely that these witnesses weren’t fully aware Hae and Adnan had broken up since there had only been a few days of school since the break up so these regular rides to track may well apply to the previous calendar year, before they broke up, and not the two or three days Adnan had been at school in 2013.

          • Exactly. That’s why I think it would be good if Susan could listen to that quote in its context, along with all the rest of whatever he said on the subject.

          • Agree. There may be context information in the police transcripts and his lawyers’ notes, as well.

      • Susan,
        In my trial, a covert phone (registered in a false name and address) was used to arrange the supply ($500,000 worth of cocaine). The prosecution tried to show that the covert phone was in fact my client’s, by an analysis of his personal phone use and the covert phone use showing that the cell towers accessed by both at roughly the same time were the same.
        We established:
        1.that the range that any mobile phone accesses cell towers is between 2 to 35 kms. The more dense the population, the shorter the range. It is not possible to be certain about the range for any suburban area.
        2. at peak times, cell towers get overloaded and calls will bounce to the then nearest tower in the range
        3. topography and weather conditions affect which cell tower will access the call. If the path is unimpeded, (eg a creek, stream etc) the range is longer. Wind can affect which cell tower is accessed, and even the way the person is facing.
        4. at some locations, a call can go indiscriminately to any no of towers (one only) – eg if a call is made from high ground it can bounce to different cell towers (depending on other conditions such as wind, trees, water etc)
        5. in our case, by analysing my client’s phone use, we were able to show that calls from his home bounced to 7 different towers (even within minutes) because his home was on a hill with a lake at the bottom. The towers accessed were not equidistant. We prepared a map on which we placed all the cell towers his phone accessed, and did a circle around each tower in different colours with a diameter ranging from 4 kms (2 km range) to 20 kms (10 km range) (separate maps for each) to show the huge area any one call could cover.
        6. the prosecution had only chosen times where my client’s calls coincided with the covert phone.

        there were other issues with cell tower records. am happy to discuss anytime

        • The complete absence of any empirical data concerning the accuracy of cellsite location data has been incredibly frustrating. How’d you manage to show that a call from the same location could go to 7 towers? Did you actually go out and make test calls?

          • Susan, we subpoenaed my client’s mobile phone records over a period of months. They were produced in a table showing the cell tower accessed by each call. These showed that on some days, within a very short space of time, the cell towers accessed jumped between locations indiscriminately. He clearly wasn’t on the move as they would revert to the same tower previously accessed within that short time frame. The crown expert confirmed that because of his home’s topographical location, the calls jumped between the 7 towers. General information such as the range accessed by each tower and the inability to be exact etc was also very helpful. We also obtained a site map of each of the relevant towers which showed a huge area covered by his hone. I’m happy to scan and send some of the documents to you if that’s any help

      • I’ve always thought the “Adnan did/didn’t ask for a ride” situation went something like this:
        Adcock calls and says that Hae is missing/have you seen her? I heard somebody say you asked her for a ride today, is that true? (Because it seems like he’d already spoken with Aisha).
        And Adnan says he asked her to drop him off at the track, but she couldn’t, so he hasn’t seen her since school ended.
        But in Adcock’s notes, he just writes that Adnan asked for and did not receive a ride.
        Then, later, when the other detective (I can’t think of his name right now) talks to Adnan, he, paraphrasing Adcock’s notes, says something like “so you asked her to take you home?” And Adnan tells him no, he didn’t, and furthermore that he wouldn’t do that because he has his own car. So that detective notes that Adnan denies asking for a ride.
        So then he seems to be contradicting himself, but really it’s a question of context and specific wording.

  31. HI Susan, lots of great info lately, thanks!

    I do hope there has been enough work done to provide for a remand and retrial, and if that happens I know there is plenty to show reasonable doubt to a jury.

    However, I am unclear on WHY there would be a conspiracy to convict an innocent teen KNOWINGLY. Maybe Jay/Jen were CI’s for some major anti-drug campaign? Maybe it was pure racism? Maybe just motivation to close a case any way possible?

    Hopefully, it doesn’t really matter why. But, if it does matter, I would like to hear more about your (you and Colin and Rabia) take on it? Why would the BPD work so hard to set this all up? Why would Urick make potentially career-ending unethical choices? It doesn’t seem to me that ANY of the players involved have had a great run at life since then – they have lost careers, Jay tries to live in hiding after a series of other run-ins with the law… If it was all a set-up, it doesn’t seem that anyone gained from it really (aside from Jay not being in prison), so why?

    Relatedly, does this line of thinking go into Colin’s discussions about “intent” and “malice” bearing on the Prosecution’s actions in precedent? If the Prosecution acted “in good faith” (such as, they just really believed in the defendant’s guilt but made some mistakes), is that forgiven by the court while intentional dishonesty is grounds for retrial?

    • Great post. I think about this a lot as well. Why did they target Adnan, other than one tip off phone call? The police clearly only looked for confirming evidence, ignored other suspects or did only a cursory job investigating, failed to collect and test other important evidence that maybe could’ve lead to someone else, and concocted a bogus timeline specifically to implicate Adnan. If they really thought he did it and therefore these actions were justified, why did they think that? Adnan was smart, popular, and other than a few teenage indiscretions, was generally deemed to be a good member of society. Then there is Jay, a drug dealer and seemingly obvious liar, who ADMITS to being involved, yet he is never investigated as someone who did it on his own or with Jenn? Home never searched? Phone records never pulled? This just makes no sense to me. If they’re trying to just get the case off the books, targeting Jay seems like a much easier case to me, other than motive. I really don’t get it and there has to be something else going on here.

      Obviously MacGillivary has a history of witness coercion. So maybe he’s just wanted to get cases off his desk by any means necessary. Just feels like there’s more to it in this case…..

    • I know you are not asking me but I hope it is OK if I respond anyway. I think the reason Adnan might have been accused was touched upon in The Docket where it was discussed that the murder rate in Baltimore that year was quite high (314) and that detectives would have been under a lot of pressure to close the case quickly.

      I think that pressure combined with the high statistical likelihood of a female homicide victim having been killed by present or former intimate partners (and maybe some racist ideas about South Asian attitudes toward women) made Adnan the most likely suspect for them.

      Bureau of Justice stats from 1993-2007 offer an interesting perspective on how the case might have looked to them: 90% of victims were killed by someone they knew. 45% of all victims in 2007 were killed by a spouse/ex-spouse or partner/ex-partner compared to 25% by someone else they know and 19% by family. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf (then again, what do these stats even mean if convictions are being obtained through shoddy means as in Adnan’s case).

      Although it is not rare for women to be killed by non-partners, I can see where a bundle of factors may have led them to be overly confident about Adnan and then fail to entertain the possibility that they were wrong (a confirmation bias)

      • I appeared for a man charged with murder in a small country town in Australia where the police investigation was totally centred around a homeless man whose jeans were covered in blood immediately after the murder. The police were under huge pressure from the media to “solve” the crime and tailored all their investigation around him. At the preliminary proceedings, the prosecution blood expert gave absurd evidence as to why the man’s shirt had no blood on it (his only shirt), given that the deceased’s artery was severed and blood had spurted everywhere in the room (walls and ceiling). Soon after the hearing, DNA established that the blood on the jeans was that of the accused (he’d had a nose bleed). The rest of the evidence was shown to be crap. By then it was too late to do a proper investigation as too much time had passed. My client was acquitted. Not dissimilar to what you say sadly

  32. I am baffled that CG’s closing remarks would not have been alarming to anyone listening to them, including Adnan, Adnan’s family and friends in the courtroom, CG’s colleagues, and the judge. Did everyone just sit politely while they listened to gibberish?

  33. Hello Susan. Amazing work, as usual. I have a few queries which I would be interested in being responded to by anyone on this post. Thanks.

    The latest Undisclosed podcast was mind blowing but some people on Reddit have suggested that Jay may have routinely tapped the table when stressed. If anyone has heard tapes of Jay at trial, please can you confirm whether or not Jay did that in the equally stressful situation of being a witness at trial?

    Other people have suggested that the police may simply have made notes of a complicated sequence of events and then used that to remind Jay of things he had earlier told them. I cannot recall, during my court work, of trial witnesses being shown or discretely reminded, by tapping a map or list, of things the witness should be saying. Witnesses might be prompted by asking them if there is anything else they remember or omissions / errors would be overtly queried, for the court record, and the witness would be shown copies of previous written statements. I would, most certainly, expect that to be the case in the police station. Is this tapping procedure or the showing of notes without a commentary a common practice in the US?

    I am also confused as to why, as a potential suspect, all Jay’s discussions with the police were not recorded. Is that standard practice in the US? All interviews with suspects, from the moment they are cautioned, are routinely recorded here in the UK.

  34. Does anyone know why we have never heard any of Adnan original police interviews?
    We’ve heard a lot of Jays when he was a young 17 years old kid but all we’ve heard from Adnan is as a 32 year articulate adult with 15 years experience of telling his story. So what about hearing what he was saying as an inexperienced 17 year old under police interrogation?

  35. Susan, Could you answer- Would it be possible to [now] charge Jenn Pusateri as an accessory? -Or for tampering or anything? I have always had a problem with her- lies, apathy, and willingness to claim to be involved in covering up the murder. Also, I feel like it was mentioned in passing in Serial but not much info was given as to Not her real name Cathy/ Christy being the daughter of a homicide detective. Can you provide more info on that and answer why some people’s names have been public from the beginning and some people Cathy/Christy and Takara have enjoyed anonymity? Last question- 2 parter- was Don’s dad law enforcement also? And can you elaborate on the “assault” he perpetrated on Debbie? Thank you in advance.

    • I’m not Susan but a criminal barrister in Australia – but I imagine our legal systems aren’t dissimilar. The issue is not whether Jen can be charged, but whether the police want to charge her and what evidence they could now mount against her, even if they did want to. Sadly too much time has passed for a successful prosecution. What evidence is there to link her to the murder? Lies and protecting Jay isn’t enough

      • Thanks, Tania! Jenn admitted to at the least tampering by destroying evidence and perhaps being accessory after the fact by taking Jay to dispose of clothes and maybe shovel(s). Jay also claims he told her Adnan planned to murder Hae prior to Hae’s death. I don’t know if there is a Good Samaritan law that would suggest she had a duty to disclose or if knowing of the plan before and helping dispose of evidence after would make her an accessory before the fact. If ever Maryland wanted to pursue the truth of what happened, I would think arresting Jenn might compel her to tell a more truthful story. We know the state wasn’t interested in the truth before but I hope the blatant disregard for the law that Susan has exposed would encourage the state’s attorney general to investigate.

        • CG should have done more to link Jay and Jen to killing Hae for whatever reason (Hae was going to tell Stephanie he was “stepping out”; he didn’t even care enough to have gotten Stephanie a gift after going out for at least 5 years). Was it Jen who met with the police at her attorney’s house. Is that something that’s regularly done?

          Or Don. I still have many doubts about him. Hae doesn’t show up for work, and is called by her brother and he’s like, “eh, she went to CA to see her dad” even though bad weather is coming? Then, he doesn’t try contacting her again (as mentioned in Serial)? His mother is the manager of LensCrafters and his alibi? Even the cops on TV are suspicious of that.

          Did CG offer up ANY other plausible scenarios?

          • Your Analysis is very close to what I feel too. And I want nothing more, than for Hae’a murderer (s) to be brought to justice. I pray for that miracle everyday. Realistically though, some people basically get away with murder all the time ( no pun intended).
            More importantly , to me right now, is that Adnan is exonerated of all false charges that put him where he’s been since 17.
            Aloha 😊

        • Jenn was not an accessory after the fact to the murder as she does not claim to have assisted the murderer. Her account is that she helped Jay dispose of clothes etc, which only makes her an accessory after the fact to Jay, which of course creates problems as it is as likely as not that Jay is lying about that as well. I’ve tried to think about appropriate charges. Here we have only two I can think of – conceal serious offence – which she could argue she didn’t as she disclosed the account soon after Hae’s body was found, and the other is in the realm of providing false information (public mischief). Unfortunately a charge relating to this is unlikely to get her to confess to anything, even if available in Merrylands

    • It was the part referring to Cathy/Christy’s anonymity which had previously occurred to me as being odd and I did query this on Twitter but never got an answer. Can Susan (or Rabia or Colin) comment on why that might have been, either in this specific case or in general terms, why one witness would be given anonymity and others not? The other questions raised by the poster, such as Cathy/Christy and Don’s parents being in the police are also questions I’d be interested in hearing an answer to. It seems to me that these haven’t been raised in either Serial or Undisclosed (unless I’ve missed them!). Is that correct? And the “assault on Debbie” is also news to me.

  36. I am so bothered by the Crown purchase. That alone, if done while the prosecution alleged that Jay and Adnan were together (and assuming there was nothing putting either of them there and that it was the Crown 30 mins outside of Woodlawn), would create enough reasonable doubt to drive a bus through. Is there any understanding why this wasn’t tracked further by the Police or by CG? Why wasn’t this added to the defense’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim as well? I feel like this is an omission as glaring as Asia’s on CG’s part.
    It’s clear to me that CG was not at her best and I hope that the Circuit Court grants a new trial after yesterday’s decision to remand. I am not convinced of Adnan’s guilt or innocence, but I am convinced that he was wrongfully convicted based on the evidence available to me at this time.

  37. I’m not sure if anyone has seen this article? If so I’m sorry for the repeat;however, it is written by a current Teacher at Woodlawn High School and he is interviewing a few teachers, whom refused to be interviewed by Sarah Koenig for Serial. It contains pictures of several ppl mentioned in that podcast.
    I’m on the fence about the article…. Showing favoritism, but would like to hear your opinion.http://observer.com/2015/02/serial-exclusive-the-teachers-of-woodlawn-high-speak-out/#.VV1SMjZtiEk.mailto

    • For what it’s worth ( which isn’t a great deal as I don’t and can’t know) , I think it’s a mistake to limit thoughts about who’s the murderer to people who are known ( eg Jay, Jenn etc). My suspicion is that it’s none of them. This question will probably never be solved. The gravamen of this case is Jay’s lies to implicate Adnan and police and prosecutorial misconduct ( plus poor representation). I can’t guess why Jay lied, but lie he did. Maybe the cops had something ( charges?) over him, maybe they were under pressure and Adnan was the obvious bunny and they genuinely believed he was guilty, maybe Jay lied because he was scared for other reasons. Whatever it was, Adnan’s conviction is a travesty. Jay should be in custody not for murder, but for his appalling conduct towards another human being. No one can or should be convicted on repeated lies and inconsistencies. The only way to test a central issue is by examination of collateral material. Ie the only way to test Jay’s account of Adnan’s guilt is by analysis of his accounts of surrounding issues ( where he saw the body, when Hae was buried, when Adnan contacted him etc etc). Anyone can say simply ‘he did it’. And it’s not simply about personalities. None of us would come out smelling roses if all the focus is on us. My experience is that people remember the worst once a person is charged.

      • After reading my last statement, I realize it sounded a bit confusing. I wasn’t trying to point the finger at anyone. What I meant was that, I felt the arrival was biased. It almost felt like someone might be righting this as a favor to Jay. I also thought the photos were interesting. But I value your opinion and appreciate the response.
        Mahalo Nui Loa

        • Correction arrival = article
          ( darn Iphone)
          Also I agree with much of your analysis, the wrongful conviction. I just hope and pray that Adnan is exonerated. And by some miracle Hae Lee’s murderer is brought to Justice. Aloha 😊

          • Like all conspiracy theories, the more convoluted the story gets, the more ridiculous and implausible it becomes.
            The theory that neither Adnan or Jay were involved is beyond belief to me.

            Let’s break it down in two parts.

            1. The police knew that Adnan is statistically the person most likely to have killed Hae.
            He is the jilted ex boyfriend who has recently realised that his relationship with Hae is definitely over and in fact she has a new boyfriend.
            So the detectives decide instead of letting the evidence lead them to a suspect, that might not be Adnan, they are going to make sure the evidence they do gather will fit in with their case against Adnan.
            Even if it means coaching witnesses who help there case or totally disregarding witnesses who go against their case etc.

            It’s my opinion that this first part is 100% correct and most people think the same.
            (Whether they believe Adnan to be guilty or not)

            2. The police get Adnan’s cell phone records and investigate everyone he calls on the day of Haes disappearance.
            This leads them to Jay and they decide, because they don’t have any physical evidence on Adnan, that they are going to basically make a story up and Jay is to be their star witness who will ‘confess’ to helping Adnan after the fact.
            Their reason for choosing Jay? He had a police record and also an outstanding charge against him which they promised to drop if he helped them.

            I find this second part beyond laughable.

    • I don’t see why the police would ask, or blackmail if that’s a better word, someone with no connection to the crime to make up a totally false story.
      it just doesn’t make sense to me.
      I believe they coached him and tried their best to get his story to fit their version of events but only after he’d admitted being involved.

      • You have to remember Jay said in the first interview that he “knew” Adnan did it and that he only helped Adnan bury Hae. There is no blackmail there. They went after Adnan due to these statements. You stated you believe they coached Jay to get his story to fit their version of events. At that point that is all they had to go on. They agreed to drop the charges of Jay’s involvement in the murder by getting him an attorney and dropping the charges related (and unrelated) to the murder. You’d say whatever they wanted you to for all that wouldn’t you? NOT

        • I don’t quite understand the point you’re trying to make.
          My point is only that there’s no way Adnan and Jay were both innocent. One or both were involved. Of that I don’t think there can be any doubt.

          • I think this case is full of doubts. Saying there is no way is pretty bold. Just saying.

  38. I am amazed at the lies that Jay told. I can’t get over the fact that the investigation was as poor as it was and how terrible CG was as a defense attorney. I don’t know if Adnan is guilty or innocent but I do know that he did NOT get a fair trial. With all of Jay’s lies (by his own admission) one has to wonder if there is something more going on with him in this case. I can’t wrap my mind around the police seeming to feed him his answers over and over again. They had to have thought at some point something didn’t add up with his answers and look at him to be the murderer. I’m not saying he is the one that murdered Hae but it all seems to be VERY strange. Then to hear that the detectives in this case have already been found to have put innocent people in jail due to their investigative practices in absolutely crazy!! ALL of their cases should be retried!!! Thank you Susan, Colin and Rabia for the podcast Undisclosed and for not giving up on Adnan’s case. He deserves a fair trial and I’m glad things are going in that direction now.

  39. Thought on the cell phone record being the first thing the cops had: wouldn’t that have come from Mr B, who secured the phone? My memory of exactly how he was related to everything is not totally clear, but I do know 1) he got the phone for Adnan, 2) he received the bill (this relates also to the twitter convo about Adnan being upset about Jay’s phone usage on 1/13 – Adnan probably didn’t know about it until after he was arrested), and 3) Jay pegged Mr B as the “anonymous caller” in his intercept interview and hinted that he had more to do with things than was released. Is that all correct?

    Not sure how/if it relates at all… but could Mr B be a person worth revisiting for a POV – especially if a new trial eventually happens?

    • The cell phone records started with Hae’s brother giving the missing person detective Adnan’s number from when Adnan gave it to her and she wrote it down. Neither Hae ‘s brother nor the detective at the time knew who’s number it was. I’m not sure why they pulled his phone record before her body was found but if I am remembering correctly they did.

    • Yeah but remember they’re not supposed to be lies. If you listen to most theory’s its supposed to be the story the police have told jay to tell.

  40. Susan I’ve been trying to ask Colin a question, but it disappears half way through my comment so I’m not sure how to proceed. My problem is understanding your appellate system. If you’re relying on the Asia/alibi/prosecution time- line/ineffective assistance of counsel ground, why can’t you (as in your process) also include Inez’s first account of seeing Hae alone after school (when she was buying food), and Hae’s friends’ accounts of hearing Hae telling Adnan that something has come up and she can’t give him a lift. Here we have one document only which we file setting out all our appeal grounds. The appeal is heard by the (state) Court of Criminal Appeal (part of the Supreme Court) with some rights to get leave to appeal from that to the High Court.
    Also. I’ve been doing some “translating” to a bookclub group of non lawyers who are following Undisclosed, and one of them asked me why Adnan no longer wants to follow up the DNA issue. Is this correct? If so, why? I hadn’t heard that and am not sure if it’s correct. I understood it was to be filed if the current ground failed. Finally, we have a fairly established body of law on incompetence of counsel (equivalent to your ineffective assistance I imagine) and on what is meant by “in the interests of justice”. Australian law is quite developed and our precedent allows different jurisdictions to be seen as “persuasive”. Not sure if that applies to US. Anyway – it may be worth looking at. Again, I’m happy to provide material or references if it’s of any assistance

  41. I’m flabbergasted. At what point do you suppose Ms. Gutierrez lost her mind and forgot how to try a case?

    • She was ill, she died young, she had MS and diabetes. I don’t think she understood the impact of MS on her mental capacity and the folks that worked with her didn’t call her on it in time. I find it very sad, really.
      From the National MS Society:

      Overview

      Cognitive changes are common in people with MS — approximately half of all people with MS will develop problems with cognition. Cognition refers to a range of high-level brain functions, including the ability to learn and remember information; organize, plan and problem-solve; focus, maintain and shift attention as necessary; understand and use language; accurately perceive the environment; and perform calculations. In MS, certain functions are more likely to be affected than others:
      Memory (acquiring, retaining and retrieving new information)
      Attention and concentration (particularly divided attention)
      Information processing (dealing with information gathered by the five senses)
      Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
      Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
      Verbal fluency (word-finding)

      Certain functions are likely to remain intact:
      General intellect
      Long-term (remote) memory
      Conversational skill
      Reading comprehension

  42. Time for me to do a bit of conspiracy. Maybe the state didn’t botch the case but focused on the wrong person willfully? Baltimore had a high murder rate, much of this I guess could be releated to drugs and gangs? So let say that Jay thinks that Adnan has something going on with Jays girlfriend and is angry towards Jay and tries to hurt Adnan by focusing on his x-girlfriend(Who Adnan still seems to care about)?

    So Jays event of things is somewhat correct but ever time he says Adnan he really mean himself. The one who helps Jay deal with the body is his supplier(or something similar).

    Jay, in his story, is really his supplier.

    The cops know this but at the same time DEA/FDA would like a informant? So they pressure Jay to become an informant. As they could always pin the murder on him if they want to. And any claims from him that they knew this from the beginning could easily be explained away by the police(Jay is not trustworthy).

    This could also be the reason why Jay don’t want the truth to come out. Cause then he would go in for murder + people he might have given information to, would like to get back at him?

    • So the police would put away an innocent teenager in order to make a drug informant of a person guilty of premeditated murder? It would be quite a risk to leave someone like that free, even for the sake of some drug arrests. Why would they not just leave the case “unsolved” officially and blackmail Jay into compliance?

    • And if the accomplice is the supplier, and their goal was to take down drug dealers, why would they not just frame the supplier as being the guilty party to get him off the street? Two birds, one stone.

      • Why frame anyone? How about just good solid detective work rather than rushing to judgement. We are a society that loves to convict whether innocent or guilty. I have to wonder how many innocent people are in jail.

        • Huh? I was not saying they should frame someone. I was pointing out the flaws in that person’s theory that Jay was the real killer, that the police knew it and that they framed Adnan so that they could use Jay as an informant.

          My question is why they would frame an innocent teenager. Why would blackmailing Jay into compliance require framing anyone? Or If they were going to frame anyone why it wouldn’t be someone they had a motive to put in prison?

  43. Not only has this young man lost 15 years of his life-obviously a mis-trial should have been declaired-but everyone should note how horrifically easy it is for a person to be railroaded into a verdict of guilty. This could be any of us! Shafted by an amazingly callous prosecuting attorney and police officers who don’t care about the people they are sworn to protect.

  44. A number of people now have mentioned that the investigation was “poor” and “sloppy.” I disagree. It was no such thing. It was deliberate, strategic and effective. It was also fraudulent, and, in my opinion, illegal and criminal — meaning the perpetrators of it need to be brought to justice using methods contrary to the methods these assholes used in presenting a bogus case against Adnan.

    The Defense on the other hand was “poor’ and “sloppy” and I will add that CG’s behavior was also not only negligent but also criminal, in my opinion. In a sense, CG has been brought to justice, but not so for the scumbag detectives and prosecutors who screwed Adnan.

    I’m not only despondent for Adnan and Hae and their respective families, but also for anyone caught in the grasp of this corrupt octopus we call our Justice System. It’s broken from top to bottom, and despite the noblest of efforts from people who comprise the Innocence Project and people like Rabia, Susan and Colin, their light is but a desolate, fleeting spark in the darkness of all this injustice perpetrated in the name of justice.

    How do we change that? Can we change it? Would anything short of revolution within our Justice System be effective? These are tough questions, but as it stands now, we all possess an equal chance of winning the most horrible lottery in the world — the falsely convicted lottery that Adnan won 15 years prior, if we can be so bold as to call this winning. As others have mentioned, any one of us, at any time, could be Adnan and most of us wouldn’t have the support Adnan has had. If that’s not a depressing and sobering thought, nothing is.

  45. Some amazing work and discoveries done. That being said, PLEASE tone down the smug attitude, Susan. We get it…all the police, attorneys, and high school kids are all liars and not half as smart as Susan Simpson. The attitude takes away from your theories and facts you are presenting…there is no point to it.

    • I interpret no “smugness” (having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements) in Ms. Simpson’s narrative. I hear professional decorum and responsible and appropriate scorn for the detectives and prosecutors of this case.

      As always, pleased to sign with my real name in the public square.

      Ken Florian

  46. ThaBunk — WTF?

    Smug? What? Susan will probably be the first person to admit she’s nerdy and a bit of a geek, but I’m not detecting the smug. She’s relentless, undaunted and incredibly generous with her time and energy, but perhaps if you’re Ritz, MacGillivary or Urick, feeling threatened by the Super Nova light that’s being shone on you right now, you will lash out and call the source of that blinding Super Nova light “smug.”

    Susan isn’t so much a theorist (Rabia, like me, is more of a theorist) as she is a zealous analyzer of the facts. She explores the facts of the case as presented by the evidence, gathers some more evidence and analyzes it, and in so doing she and Rabia and Colin have demolished the State’s case. They have filled in the massive holes and gaps we were left with after listening to the Serial podcast. They have answered, quite superbly I’ll add, the nagging questions we’ve all had post Serial.

    Anyone with an open mind can see The FACTS as presented and analyzed by Susan, Rabia and Colin lead away from Adnan’s guilt, not to it. Any open-minded individual also cannot help but conclude that the investigatory and prosecutorial misconduct in this case is so egregious it’s inexcusable and downright criminal.

    For anyone interested, I’ve created a blog post at my blog that includes a poll. Healthy, robust discussion is encouraged as is participation in the poll.

    Finally, thank you Susan for all you have done so far. You are emphatically tenacious and admirably gracious and generous, and I know what this commenter has asserted is like water off your duck’s back. Keep on keepin’ on!

    • I agree with the above. Susan is far from smug . If you notice, she only discusses facts, that she has the corresponding documents to back it up, not hearsay… Colin too. And Rabia being a theorists makes for a great trio. It’s been her theories all along, that have lead to some awesome investigative work… There like the ” Three Musketeers.” I find no smugness. I find three brilliant minds, that have attacked this case from many different angles of their expertise
      and they will be prevalent in their knowledge and gift.
      And if you ThaBunk are a member of any opposing party… I’d be worried!
      Mahalo Nui Loa

      • I agree Susan is definitely not smug. She has uncovered many damning facts about the “evidence” in this case and the conduct of the police and prosecution, so it’s understandable that she would occasionally sound shocked/appalled/frustrated but definitely not smug. I enjoy listening to Rabia as well, but she can occasionally be smug. And she has a right to be. She’s been saying for 15 years that Adnan’s counsel was a disaster and the police and prosecutors were out to get him, and now the preponderance of the evidence proves that she was right all along.

        • Exactly to some people, she could come across as smug; however, like you said 15 frustrating years of fighting this Justice System (in this case I have trouble calling it that) , I feel it may have hardened her… But don’t most battles make us hard? I mean for Rabia ( whom I hold in the highest esteem) it’s been like being in labor for 15 years! 😊
          Mahalo Nui Loa for your reply Dan

        • I find Rabia interesting because she is (humorously) smug, but she also seems humble enough to acknowledge when she’s wrong. She made harsh comments about Jay when The Intercept interview came out, but I have noticed that she has softened up on him since evidence emerged that he may have been coerced by the police. She is definitely less smug than other people involved in 1999.

          Susan’s work is thorough and excellent. She has noticed details that no one picked up on 15 years including defense and prosecution, Rabia and The Serial team and made sense of it all. I don’t find her excessive, personally. As a lawyer herself she probably finds the sloppiness of this case frustrating.

          I just wonder what she has been putting up her sleeve these past two months!

  47. Sadly, it is not uncommon to find that lawyers and judges are sloppy and reckless in their representations and actions, in and out of court. I have practiced litigation for over 30 years and am disgusted at the lack of responsibility and accountability. Lawyers are taught and expected to “win” rather than seek justice and very often lose sight of the huge impact their conduct has on the lives of people. The civil and criminal judicial systems are also greatly flawed and I literally shudder to think of all the people who have been wrongfully convicted. To me, there could be nothing worse. Adnan Syed deserves a fair shot in a new trial. I pray he receives one this time.

  48. Hi S,
    I wanted to ask, do you know why Rabia waited 15 years to start a deeper investigation? I mean, she would’ve been able to gather more evidence back then than now. Great analysis here (in this blog), great podcast also.

    • I wondered that too. Is it too late to use all of this new info that Undisclosed is finding to actually help Adnan? It’s interesting that they are playing Monday Morning Quarterback and criticizing the investigation…but is it going to do any good?

  49. Susan, amazing job on both the blog and the podcast! I remember that you sounded a bit frustrated about the rope a couple of episodes back. I was re-listening to ep 7 of Serial and Sarah mentions a photo of it where it looks like a laundry line. I thought that the Undisclosed team had access to the same material as the serial team, but maybe you don’t? Anyway, you may of course already be aware of this. But just in case.

  50. Hi Susan,

    While the content of Undisclosed, which matters the most, the most important thing, is truly and absolutely great, with outstanding investigation & thorough research (much better than Serial), the podcast production may be improved. For the next season (looking forward to it), this may be greatly improved. Some pointers:

    http://historyofenglishpodcast.com/
    http://www.dancarlin.com/product-category/hardcore-history/current-hardcore-history/
    Vocal Recording Technology – https://www.edx.org/course/music-production-vocal-recording-berkleex-bmpr365x

    FreeAdnan.

  51. Great work. Its sad though how the detectives just got away with taking someones live away wow. I have a question, when Adnan gets released, can J and Jane be investigated properly?

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