The Case of Adnan Syed By Ryan Wheelock

Initial Opinion

After watching the original serial podcast, I was not optimistic that Adnan was innocent in the murder of Hae Min Lee. There were too many coincidences, too many conveniences and Adnan had no alibi to support himself. Jay's story was also fairly convincing despite its numerous holes. After all, what reason did Jay have to make up such a compelling story? The timeline presented by the prosecution made sense and the cell records clearly pointed to Adnan committing the murder. Even the creator of serial, Sarah Koenig felt Adnan was guilty at certain times despite her opinion changing constantly. Taking a deeper look, I decided to delve into how I would have voted if I was on the jury of the original trial. Taking into consideration the feelings of the time and all the evidence presented before and after the case I plan to discover if Adnan was really guilty.

The Credibility of Jay

The prosecution used Jay's testimony as the main evidence against Adnan. They pointed out that even if the minute details in his story changed, the backbone was always there. The jury went along with this and I feel that they ignored several key points of information because of this. Even while listening to the Serial Podcast for the first time I didn't really believe what Jay was saying, but after looking in detail at his testimony I trust him even less. He had admitted on several occasions to lying to protect himself; In multiple hearings Jay told different stories in which he would seem less involved in the case. Susan Brown points out that in Jay’s third police statement, he gave a completely different story than he had give in his first two statements. And when the cops asked why he has not told the truth before, Jay “admitted that he lied on the two previous occasions to cover up the fact that he bought and sold marijuana” (Appellant’s Brief). Later on Jay was questioned on whether Adnan had planned the murder in advance. The first time he was questioned he claimed Adnan said, “I think I’m going to kill her, yeah I’m going to kill her.” Later on in an interview Jay changed his story and said, "Adnan snapped and strangled her." (Serial). After that Jay changes the place where the murder took place four separate times. At first it was at the parking lot at the Best Buy (Jay’s Second Interview). Then it was at the Woodlawn LibrarY (Jay’s Story to Chris). Then he changed his story to not knowing where the murder took place (Jay’s Story to Jenn). Finally it was at Patapsco State Park (Jay’s Third Interview). These are not simple inconsistencies. Jay changed his story so often and drastically that he even claimed that they disposed of the body on entirely different days. His testimony has countless gaping holes. Someone that can lie so easily or simply forgets major details like this is not someone I tend to trust.

Adnan's Motive

One part of the case that never really made sense to me was the motive put forth by the prosecution against Adnan. For one, it changed many times and differed depending on who was telling the story. Motives offered to explain why Adnan was the murderer included Hae making him mad, Hae breaking his heart and Hae making him jealous that she was with other guys. Jay gave all three of these stories and Adnan's classmates also had varying opinions on the motive in the murder (Brown). Whether it's based on the testimony of witnesses not being able to come up with a believable motive or Adnan just not seeming like a killer, I can't see the reason why Adnan would snap. What he was accused of would have taken planning and almost flawless execution. When Sarah tried to recreate the murder, she barely did it with minutes to spare (Serial). The killing of Hae was done efficiently and with precision. If Hae had really broken his heart like the state said, he would of lashed out and done it impulsively.

Race

Composed of many racial minorities and lower class citizens, the jury from the 2000 court case against Adnan Syed showed considerable bias against him. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees "equal protection of the laws." In the case of United States v. Doe in 1990, the "Constitution prohibits racially-biased arguments." A defendant in any case that is accused of a crime must be judged on the evidence presented in the trial, not on stereotypes about his background or race. Adnan Syed was born in the United States to immigrant parents from Pakistan, but no matter where his parents came from, he is American citizen. During the trial, Adnan's race was brought up several times as an argument against him. The prosecutor introduced him at the start of the trial by saying, "The defendant is of Pakistani background, he's a Muslim." He encouraged the jury to look at the defendant's ethnicity and religion as a cause for the events that had transpired. If I were in the jury I would have looked past race and analyzed the facts; The original jurors did the opposite. They saw that Adnan was Muslim and immediately believed he was capable of murder because of his nationality. It was even brought up during the trial that if Adnan were to be freed, he would attempt to escape to Pakistan, similarly to a case before this involving someone of Pakistani origin (Brown). Even if the jurors didn't believe this to be true, it made an impact on the rest of the trial.

Asia McClain

Asia was the missing piece that would have proved Adnan's innocence in the original trial. I mostly believe it was because of her exclusion from the case that Adnan is in jail at this moment. Although the defense attorney on the case Christina Gutierrez claimed that she Asia would have been detrimental to the case, I completely disagree. Even after ten plus years, she still remembered the event clearly. Unlike Jay who had a suspicious past and motivation to lie, Asia had zero reason to help Adnan, yet she came forward anyway. If she wasn't positive that she was telling the truth then Asia wouldn't have ever come forward. It was stated in an interview with Asia in the Serial Podcast that, "We didn't know each other too well." Asia had no inherent bias, yet her story was thrown out. She gave Adnan a solid alibi that put him nowhere near the murder. If he had actually been in that library after school on that day in January, 2000, there would have been no way Adnan committed the murder. The jury did not know any of this information however, and this clearly had an affect on the views of the jurors.

Was he Really Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

To me it felt that for the entire duration of the case, Adnan was fighting to be innocent instead of the prosecution having to prove him guilty. Gutierrez was on the defensive the whole case and wasn't spending the necessary time to refute Jay's points. The entire situation was stacked against Adnan from the start and this is where I believe the entire case was unlawful. There was very little solid evidence against Adnan, yet the trial went incredibly smoothly. The jury made up their mind rapidly as well; They were all almost certain that Adnan was guilty as they finished deliberating in just a few hours. This trial had a man's future on the line. If I had been selected to be on the jury then I would have spent the time to see if Adnan was really guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on the presented evidence, I can't convict Adnan as guilty. He has an alibi for the time of the murder, the states case was based on the word of one person, he has no real motive to kill Hae and the entire jury and the judge had an implicit bias against him. Although I can't be certain that he's innocent, there is not enough proof to put him in jail. Looking at what is currently going on in his trial, I think others are starting to realize this as well.

Sources

https://viewfromll2.com/2014/11/26/serial-why-jays-testimony-is-not-credible-evidence-of-adnans-guilt/

Serial Podcast

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/06/adnan-syed-new-trial-hae-min-lee-rabia-choudry

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