Serial: Episode 10: The Best Defense is a Good Defense
December 4, 2014 7:13 AM - Subscribe

Adnan's trial lawyer was M. Cristina Gutierrez, a renowned defense attorney in Maryland – tough and savvy and smart. Other lawyers said she was exactly the kind of person you'd want defending you on a first-degree murder charge. But Adnan was convicted, and a year later, Gutierrez was disbarred. What happened?
posted by Cash4Lead (64 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
These photos might be of interest
posted by runincircles at 8:07 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hopefully the meme that SK isn't honestly dealing with the racial issues surrounding the case will start to die off now.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:32 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really hated the last line of this episode. Just felt sort of cheap.
posted by thereemix at 9:49 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you mean "...because what if he's a psychopath, right?" It's an advertisement for the next episode, which is called 'Rumors'. Presumably it will discuss if people do in fact think he's a psychopath.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:56 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


oh my god, SK is so, so white. The beginning of this episode, where she basically writes off the family's concern that the prosecution was racially motivated (for, as far as I can tell, basically no reason), coupled with the last few where she has been weirdly self-obsessed with whether or not Adnan liked her (and offended when he was upset that she basically said he was one of the good ones), are leaving a really bad taste in my mouth.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:07 AM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's an advertisement for the next episode

Yeah, I get that.

She's done the tease for the next episode at the end of each episode. This is the first time it's felt kind of ham-handed and stupid to me. YMMV, whatever. I didn't like it. It felt a little too "...OR IS HE?!!" cheesy murder mystery after what was a generally solid episode.
posted by thereemix at 10:08 AM on December 4, 2014


I was amazed that Adnan apparently was on track to being acquitted in the first trial, if not for Gutierrez' outburst that led to the mistrial motion. It sounds like his case to the Court of Special Appeals that his representation was inadequate is legit.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


The beginning of this episode, where she basically writes off the family's concern that the prosecution was racially motivated (for, as far as I can tell, basically no reason)

It's really strange that she wrote off the family's concerns like that and then immediately follows up with a bunch of interviews with jurors who revealed racial bias and pieces of the prosecution's argument that she acknowledges as playing up Muslim stereotypes. Weird, weird, weird.

The whole business of the state arguing such bullshit like Adnan shouldn't be granted bail because the Muslim community in Baltimore would obvs whisk him off to Pakistan just made me so furious, like, nails digging into palms furious. It's just really upsetting.
posted by thereemix at 10:14 AM on December 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Listening to this episode gave me enough rage to pedal through my workout. SK just pooh-pooing the racial aspect, only to have a bunch of jurors talk about Adnan's "culture". There was such a crazy disconnect there. And how does she not talk about Gutierrez's disbarment?

A friend dug up an article about the other case mentioned. It talks a little about defense misconduct.

The lead-in to the next episode was also clumsy. I was waiting for more of an explanation, and boom it was over.

I've never found Jay to be credible. His story keeps changing in the face of evidence contradicting it, just enough to protect himself. In the previous episode, SK frames him as mentally unstable, or at least prone to outbursts.
posted by X-Himy at 10:22 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find myself increasingly wondering whether Koenig is stringing us along -- like, the big reveal is going to be "And then Adnan admitted to me that he did it and told me exactly how he killed her, and it checks out perfectly." I don't have any evidence for this other than the fact that she seems to undercut or dismiss every "Aha!" moment, taking a position that's neither purely disinterested-observer nor passionate-advocate.

Or she's just drawing it out to make people talk about how this thing in her reportage doesn't seem to make sense, and that almost annoys me even more.
posted by Etrigan at 10:27 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or she's drawing it out to keep you listening to the show? Creating the sense that things keep changing and could go any way keeps people interested. She's trying to make it feel like a rollercoaster ride where she veers from one revelation and view to another, and you're right there with her.

Serial is neither dispassionate news nor advocacy, it's entertainment.

Hopefully the meme that SK isn't honestly dealing with the racial issues surrounding the case will start to die off now.

Nah, as you can see from the comments already. But I think the commenters above are misremembering or misunderstanding what she said in the beginning. She didn't write off the family's concern that the prosecution was racially motivated. She said she doesn't think the conviction was entirely driven by racism, but then says she thinks it could have played a part, and then examines that possibility.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:51 AM on December 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


The thing that stuck with me from this episode is all the recordings of Gutierrez made me wonder if Adnan is in jail now because her delivery sounds so irritating if you had to sit and listen to it for weeks on end. When they play the 2-3 minute bit about Jay changing his story, I kept thinking how confusing and hard to follow Gutierrez was, the way she does that sing-song delivery. It sounds like a know-it-all kid saying "I know a secret you don't" and it's really off-putting (ignoring completely the part about how confusing that whole segment was to even follow) and sounds condescending and I could imagine jurors getting mad just listening to it.

Anything in this case could have been the one gotcha thing that went badly for Adnan, but that unconventional delivery by his lawyer seems like it could have been one of the culprits.

Also, not being a lawyer, I think I missed how rare and improper it was for the prosecutor to suggest a lawyer for Jay. Was it really that big of a thing?

I guess it reminds me of the world of real estate when sometimes agents know each other or one of them picks an inspector for you that later turns out to be someone terrible at the job but the agent really wanted to sell you a home and it was slightly improper to have that connection.
posted by mathowie at 10:54 AM on December 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


I agree regarding Gutierrez's delivery mathowie. I find it grating just in the brief bits we've been getting all along. I ccan't imagine how miserable it would be to have to listen to it for weeks on end. I don't think it helped Adnan at all.

And all of the stuff regarding Gutierrez wanting cash payments up front from her clients for services she failed to render made me wonder if she had a drug problem. Her behavior was so bizarre.
posted by thereemix at 11:00 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've seen on my Facebook feed and elsewhere people treating Serial as a narrative. Referring to people as "characters" and events as "scenes". Serial is telling a true crime story in a narrative style, something that's been happening since at lease In Cold Blood.

As readers, we've been trained to expect resolution. But Serial isn't fiction, there likely won't be a resolution. Or the resolution we'll get is something like the Thin Blue Line Effect, the attention brought to the case by SK will force the court to re-examine things. But on episode 12, we're not going to have a nice neat wrap-up.
posted by X-Himy at 11:35 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I find myself increasingly wondering whether Koenig is stringing us along -- like, the big reveal is going to be "And then Adnan admitted to me that he did it and told me exactly how he killed her, and it checks out perfectly."

In her interview with Mike Pesca for The Gist, SK said something to the effect that, while the episodes were being put together on the fly, the last ones were pretty much set. So yeah, that would be exciting but seems unlikely.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:05 PM on December 4, 2014




A thing that NPR reporters consistently do that I cannot stand is feign naïveté or ignorance during interviews in order to facilitate a narrative and ensure the audience is on board. (Radiolab and TAL are biggest offenders.) I had given Koenig the benefit of the doubt; I assumed that her comments on race were expressing false naïveté and not reflective of her genuine attitudes. But this episode revealed that she really is impossibly clueless about racism and bias.
posted by painquale at 3:14 PM on December 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I absolutely hated Gutierrez's delivery and just tuned out whenever she talked, I don't understand how she was ever successful before this case when she sounded like that.
posted by jeather at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I find myself increasingly wondering whether Koenig is stringing us along

I did wonder that at the beginning of the series. I thought the show's title had relevance to the nature of the crime (instead of calling it 'The One-Off Isolated Murder Podcast') and one of the people involved was/had links with a known serial killer. And that was the big reveal to come.
posted by popcassady at 3:28 PM on December 4, 2014


My household is on board with the notion that one might convict a defendant of just about anything, to get Gutierrez to stop talking like that already.

My partner has been leaning strongly toward Adnan's innocence but is really thrown by the assertion that Adnan was asking for a plea deal during the actual trials. The reasoning makes perfect sense as described by Adnan now, as a grown-up with hindsight, but he doesn't quite buy that Adnan if innocent would have made that request at that age in the midst of the trials. I'm thinking maybe Adnan also just wanted Gutierrez to stop talking at him.
posted by Stacey at 4:22 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, not being a lawyer, I think I missed how rare and improper it was for the prosecutor to suggest a lawyer for Jay. Was it really that big of a thing?

Yes, it's a massive deal. The prosecutor didn't just 'suggest' a lawyer for Jay. He secured a pro-bono private defence lawyer for someone he was prosecuting. He - in effect - paid for Jay's defence. He was operating on both side of the bar table, directing both the prosecution and the defence in Jay's case. It's a massive conflict of interest, and perversion of the adversarial system.

Also, as SK notes, this could have been perceived as a way of buying Jay's testimony. In my opinion, it was.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:34 PM on December 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


I might listen again, but I don't feel like SK was dismissing that racial biases came into play, she was only disagreeing with Adnan's family's contention that the whole thing was bias and discrimination from the get-go. Yes, that lawyer at the bail hearing spun a bizarre yarn about evil "Pakistan males" killing girls and fleeing the country, but subsequently that same lawyer apologizes for mischaracterizing things. I guess I've watched enough Law and Order to believe that lawyers at bail hearings will grasp at whatever they can to get their way - the prosecution always fights to the bitter end to deny bail, whether or not it's really necessary. So was this a case of bias as in the prosecution was actually biased? Or was it a case of "bias" as a string they felt they could pull to win the game? There's a distinction there. I'm not saying either is good or OK, but they're different.
posted by dnash at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I might listen again, but I don't feel like SK was dismissing that racial biases came into play, she was only disagreeing with Adnan's family's contention that the whole thing was bias and discrimination from the get-go.

That was the sense I got too -- not that the whole thing was a frame-up of Adnan because he was an Other, but because Adnan was the most viable suspect they had, the prosecution used his Otherness as leverage with the jury. So he wasn't so much convicted because of racism, but racism was used to convict him.
posted by Etrigan at 5:15 PM on December 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


So he wasn't so much convicted because of racism, but racism was used to convict him.

I would modify this; he wasn't targeted by the police and the prosecution because of racism in particular. We don't really know if the cops were influenced by racist attitudes, but nothing SK has presented suggests it.

But once charges were laid, yes, the prosecution used every tool at its disposal, including trading on the ignorance and racism of the jury.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:21 PM on December 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yes, thank you. Targeted is the word I was trying to come up with -- if we think of the process as being:
A -- Police identify Adnan as a suspect.
B -- Police zero in on Adnan as the prime suspect.
C -- Prosecutors decide to indict Adnan.
D -- Trial.
I feel like the family wants to say that A, B, C and D are all because of racism, where Koenig is saying that D was definitely racism, maybe even C, but not so much A or B.
posted by Etrigan at 5:29 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Out of curiosity I checked the subreddit. The agreement seemed to be that most people would consider convicting her clients out of spite for her voice and also that it was quite possibly a symptom of MS, which would explain how she used to be a really effective attorney.
posted by jeather at 5:49 PM on December 4, 2014


I feel like the family wants to say that A, B, C and D are all because of racism, where Koenig is saying that D was definitely racism, maybe even C, but not so much A or B.

Yes, exactly. I agree with her that there's nothing to suggest that the cops were racist and settled of Adnan purely because of race. I think she could have been clearer in distinguishing between her view that Adnan wasn't necessarily targeted because of racism, but that racism and Islamphobia were a key element in the prosecution's strategy and his conviction.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:55 PM on December 4, 2014


We don't really know if the cops were influenced by racist attitudes, but nothing SK has presented suggests it.

Yeah, we know. They were. Literally all common sense -- this is actually a real life case, you know -- points to the fact that the cops were influenced by racist attitudes, in addition to the evidence SK has discussed. This was 1991. He was muslim. You would have to be in serious denial and/or completely divorced from reality/history to think that they weren't, and I am honestly having a hard time believing that this statement was made in good faith.
posted by likeatoaster at 5:56 PM on December 4, 2014


It's already been said, but Gutierrez's voice makes me crazy. Jeather's right about the subreddit.

I feel like I wait and wait for each podcast and then after listening to it I don't know much more than I did before and I have a WHOLE WEEK to wait for the next one. This is why I prefer to experience most media after it's already completed, and I can binge watch/listen the whole thing.
posted by bunderful at 5:59 PM on December 4, 2014


err woops I guess it was 1999 but still
posted by likeatoaster at 6:07 PM on December 4, 2014


Literally all common sense -- this is actually a real life case, you know -- points to the fact that the cops were influenced by racist attitudes, in addition to the evidence SK has discussed.

Not all common sense -- "boyfriend=suspect" is pretty common-sense, too.
posted by Etrigan at 6:10 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I want to know about Kevin Urick, because he is seeming super-sketch these days. Getting Jay a lawyer and being reasonably certain (based on his aside during trial) that Nisha couldn't remember the right call? mmmm.... But especially the lawyer thing.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:31 PM on December 4, 2014


You would have to be in serious denial and/or completely divorced from reality/history to think that they weren't, and I am honestly having a hard time believing that this statement was made in good faith.

I'm apologise. I expressed myself poorly. I was trying to say, no specific evidence has been presented that these particular cops were influenced by racism to the extent that it was their primary reason for arresting Adnan for Hae's murder, which is what Adnan's mother apparently believes. There is at least a possibility that these particular cops were not driven by racism. What I am saying is very far from claiming that there isn't a serious and severe problem with racism in US policing, because obviously there is.

But I'll note that the investigator that SK hired to review the case considered that the investigation was reasonably well constructed, as these things go. What that says about the state of police investigations is another thing entirely.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:33 PM on December 4, 2014


You would have to be in serious denial and/or completely divorced from reality/history to think that they weren't, and I am honestly having a hard time believing that this statement was made in good faith.

likeatoaster, you're being really needlessly vicious here. Disagreeing with you isn't arguing in bad faith, and several commenters here have expressed the view you snidely dismiss. If you want to make your point then make it, but being more insulting doesn't make you more right.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:02 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was particularly struck by the stories from the other family that Gutierrez was representing around the same time as Adnan. Screwing around about a SCOTUS brief? What the hell, woman?

And as much as I can't stand to listen to her, she was a successful defense attorney before the early 2000s -- I'm assuming that her delivery style generally worked for her, somehow.

As far as the race thing goes this episode? I think this was another case of SK taking the audience on the same journey she took. She was skeptical that the pre-9/11 legal system was *that* prejudiced against Muslims, but did some investigations and found it that yeah, it was really that bad (at least once prosecution started), and presented that evidence to us. I thought it was effective, though of course it provides ammunition to those who want to pull what she is saying out of the context of the whole piece.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:38 PM on December 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm glad to find out that this wasn't the final episode because I was left thinking how cheap it was to wrap everything up by blaming the lawyer. SK seemed to be particularly slanted against Gutierrez and it came across to me like she was just taking an easy out.

Of course the story isn't about Gutierrez and whatever problems were leading her to take tens of thousands of dollars from people and then not deliver the quality of service expected (or sometimes not deliver anything at all). However, I couldn't understand why SK seemed to be trying to leave the impression that Gutierrez deliberately tried to hurt her clients, including Adnan.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:31 PM on December 4, 2014


Also, not being a lawyer, I think I missed how rare and improper it was for the prosecutor to suggest a lawyer for Jay. Was it really that big of a thing?


Yes, it's a huge deal. The reveal was so out of left base that I actually couldn't process it for a second. Then I actually hit my car's wheel when SK made the comment about how the judge blew it off.

It's foul play in all sorts of ways and the judge just playing it off as "Well, Jay didn't seem to think he was getting a benefit, so it's all ok" is a horrible simplification of the ethical and moral problems.

The DA, by selecting a lawyer for Jay is undermining Jay's defense. The defense lawyer is doing it Pro Bono, but why? Because s/he expects a benefit from the DA's office in some other case? Because s/he is a friend of the DA and wants their career to go well? I have no clue. The possible motivations are boundless. Maybe none of them are true, but the appearance stinks to me.

Now, if Jay's lawyer has some other motivation to support the DA rather than what's in Jay's best interest, the lawyer can mis-advise or pressure Jay into believing his case is worse than it is, and maybe provide an impetus to lie/frame Adnan.

Or, not even to go that far, maybe the DA just picked a shitty defender who they knew they could push around? Same effect in the long run.

The point is in an adversarial system you need to be adversaries. Anything that compromises that role is an issue. Just like an Olympic champion shouldn't get to pick their rival out of a stable of athletes to find out who's "the best", a DA shouldn't have a thing to do with picking out the other side's attorney.
posted by bswinburn at 10:26 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


I didn't get the impression that SK was trying to pin it on Gutierrez at all. I thought this episode humanized her substantially. The way that Adnan spoke about her as everything to him from a mother to a confidant to a doctor and nurse, the way that SK talked about how depressed Gutierrez was post-conviction and how she never bounced back from losing this case, how we got to hear her get so incensed about the prosecutor providing Jay with an attorney, and then we even got SK telling us straight up that she didn't think Gutierrez threw the case.

I certainly came out of this episode with a warmer opinion of her.

Regarding the race element, I thought that SK's selection and presentation of materials showed pretty effectively how much race played into the bail refusal (argh!!!) and into the prosecution's presentation. Her discussion with the jurors reminded me of an earlier episode where she got one juror to talk about how she basically it held against Adnan that he didn't testify, even after specifically being instructed that she couldn't. I don't think that SK wants to just tell us anything and have us accept it - I think she wants us to come to those conclusions ourselves based on what she shows us. So my impression is that she is aware of the race issue and presenting solid proof that it played a role. If she really didn't think it was a big deal, we wouldn't be hearing about it, because she wouldn't consider it worthy of airtime.
posted by kitarra at 10:53 PM on December 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


I just caught up and now I resent having to wait for the last two.
One of the reasons I find it appealing is that it is a remedy to Law & order and all those cop and lawyer shows with facts. It's not a small band of people that hash it all out in a few days. It's nothing nearly as simple and clean as they try to make it in stories, and there is something infuriating about whether the narrator is trying to "dumb down" her reactions to things when her entry into this whole thing is this lawyer and being a journalist. She sounds childish when she says the thinks she can catch a slip or doesn't understand why someone would want a plea deal, etc., but then trots out an expert to explain, so I feel insulted as the audience or for the audience, because I can't tell if this is part of her story telling strategy or her real gut reaction truth. It's well done and I don't know her background but these elements of naiveté are irritating when she knows enough to contact and hire the right people. Since she wrote about the lawyer, I wonder if going in depth with this case has more fully fleshed out what was going on with her and how devastated she was, as if this case was proof that she was no longer pulling it off.

I wonder what case they'll take on next. If only there was a way for many of these kinds of shows to illuminate the process and people in these weird circumstances. I would think every case with a petition is being thrown at them, but I'd love to have them keep working with the Innocence Project.
posted by provoliminal at 12:35 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


His thoughts were red thoughts: There is at least a possibility that these particular cops were not driven by racism.

I thought Koenig made it pretty clear that the consultant's report was misleading at best, outright racist at worst. But as she also makes clear, there's no way to tell whether what the investigators made of the report. However, if what people investigating and prosecuting the case saw when looking at Adnan Syed was some sort of alien other, and not a teenager from Maryland, then yeah, it was driven by racism.

But I'll note that the investigator that SK hired to review the case considered that the investigation was reasonably well constructed, as these things go.

He said that it was reasonably well constructed in comparison with the cases he'd been asked to review, not police investigations in general.
posted by Kattullus at 12:42 AM on December 5, 2014


"boyfriend=suspect" is pretty common-sense, too.

I agree with the sentiment, but Adnan wasn't actually her boyfriend at this point, was he? Now that we've covered Jay, the defense attorney, Mr. S., etc., I hope we actually get to the boyfriend.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:33 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was trying to say, no specific evidence has been presented that these particular cops were influenced by racism to the extent that it was their primary reason for arresting Adnan for Hae's murder, which is what Adnan's mother apparently believes.

I think it's easy to forget that the police were contacted twice about Adnan, and that's what made him a primary suspect. According to the timeline, they received an anonymous tip on February 12 to investigate Adnan (almost a month after Hae was missing), and then they questioned two people (Jenn and then Jay) who identified Adnan as Hae's murderer. I think once they had that information, the police shifted their focus to building a case against Adnan. There's no indication that the investigation was focusing on Adnan before that.
posted by gladly at 7:04 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


"boyfriend=suspect" is pretty common-sense, too.

I agree with the sentiment, but Adnan wasn't actually her boyfriend at this point, was he?


No, sorry. I meant to say "ex-boyfriend=suspect" there. Yeah, I've been wondering about that other guy (David?) ever since he was first mentioned.
posted by Etrigan at 7:04 AM on December 5, 2014


I think it would be unfair to drag the boyfriend into this. I am still leery of the entertainment aspect of the show and how it effects real lives. Jay and Jenn's lives have been delved into on Redditt ad nauseum, but also they are key parts of the investigation; their contemporaneous statements and their trial testimony are part of the record. I have never seen anything about Don testifying or anything about his statements to police at the time(and I have spent waaayyy too much time delving into this case). I'd be glad if SK just left it as 'I looked in to Don, I feel he's not a credible alternate suspect, has nothing new to tell us and do not want to threaten his anonymity.
I would want to know if he remembered Hae harboring any fear of Adnan.
posted by readery at 7:07 AM on December 5, 2014


Just out of curiosity, why do people refer to her as "SK"?
posted by Etrigan at 7:14 AM on December 5, 2014


(I mean, obviously, it's her initials, but why is that the common use?)
posted by Etrigan at 7:16 AM on December 5, 2014


For me, it's partially because Koenig is awkward for me to spell (I just had to google to confirm it again), and probably also partially the intimacy of the show lends itself to us wanting to give her a nickname. Especially since all of the players in the story are talked about by their first names, but calling her Sarah would be weird (when else do we discuss journalists on a first name basis, really).
posted by sparklemotion at 7:24 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd be glad if SK just left it as 'I looked in to Don, I feel he's not a credible alternate suspect, has nothing new to tell us and do not want to threaten his anonymity.

That would work for me too. I think the narrative structure leads to me to suspect that anytime she doesn't mention something obvious, it's because there will be a 'reveal' episode later concerning that subject.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:38 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Quick loop-back to the racism-as-motive thing and why the parents thought it was why the police were focusing on Adnan: he and Hae were dating in secret, and I don't think at the time the family really knew the extent of their relationship. The police probably knew he was the "ex-boyfriend" and were focusing on him because of that, but his mom and dad may have thought their motive was racial.

We know, in hindsight, how involved they were, and that the cops were thinking it was a crime of passion. The family may have thought, at the time, that the cops were there because Adnan was a Muslim. That first impression might be what's stuck with them, even now, even though the truth of their relationship has come out.
posted by jazon at 8:00 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm leaning heavily toward the theory Kelly Oxford espoused on Twitter:

Jay and Adnan both innocent. Police built case against Adnan, told Jay he'd go down for having car. They tell Jay Adnan did it. Jay believes.

Jay is told he needs a story or he will go down for the murder too, maybe told Adnan was framing him. He comes up with the multiple stories.

The Detective played dirty before... http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/05/55427.htm

Guys, when Jay yelled, "THEN WHO DID IT?" It was so telltale. It's what he tells himself every time he feels guilty about lying about Adnan.

That link she supplies is one hell of a story. Basically, a guy named Ezra Mable is convicted of the murder of a drug dealer named Kevin Dukes. There was good evidence that someone named Eddie did it, but
Mable claims the police "hatched a plan" to frame someone else for the shooting by coercing two women into making false identifications in exchange for not being arrested on drug charges.

He claims the police planted drugs in the car of a woman whom an informant said might know something about the case. When she refused to cooperate, Mable says, police threatened to arrest her for narcotics possession and have her children taken away. She initially chose Mable's picture from the photo lineup, but changed her mind and insisted the shooter was Eddie, according to the complaint.

Mable claims the second woman did not even see the murder and had to be coached by police about their theory of the case. He claims she was a drug addict and was "either drunk or high" during the interview. When she picked Eddie's picture from the photo lineup, the detectives threatened to arrest her unless she said that "she had seen Mr. Mable with a gun exiting Mr. Dukes' motor vehicle," the complaint states.
After ten years in prison, Mable filed his own petition for relief, was released from prison, and sued for damages. Among the people named in the lawsuit is Detective William Ritz, the detective on Adnan's case.

Someone blogged basically the same theory here.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


But Jay led police to Hae's car, right? So this theory requires us to believe that the police found the car, hid this huge piece of evidence for up to three weeks, and then strong-arm Jay into pretending to lead the cops to the car. That's a stretch for me, versus Jay knew where the car was because he helped ditch it
posted by peeedro at 8:32 AM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


To elaborate a little, if the police found the car first it would have set a whole series of events into motion that never happened. It's a major piece of evidence in a missing person/murder case (depending on when you suppose the police found the car), and the possibly the crime scene itself; it would be seen by and documented by at least a dozen police officers.

If it was a citizen who called in an informed tip, or a "hey this car has been sitting in my lot for too long" call, the first thing that happens is that dispatch sends the closest available patrol car to corroborate and to secure the vehicle. Same thing if it's a patrol car who finds it or a meter reader reports it in, it gets called into to dispatch. Then the crime scene guys are sent there and the detectives are informed. Once pictures are taken, evidence is collected and any witnesses/tipsters are interviewed, the car gets towed to impound. From there the crime scene police send their samples to the lab for fingerprint/fiber/DNA/etc analysis. Photos are developed, evidence gets logged, reports are written.

A dozen cops conspiring to make a crime scene disappear then reappear to frame a high school pot dealer and his muslim buddy is on a whole different level from one dirty detective coercing testimony. I know that there are plenty of lazy/dirty cops, but the case Pater mentioned doesn't begin to compare. To me, assuming that the police found the car first requires you to have a what-if-they're-all-in-on-it conspiracy mindset.
posted by peeedro at 9:25 AM on December 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


And Jay's details about how the body was buried match up. Also, he may be all over the place about timing and phone calls but he's weirdly consistent about red gloves that he says that Adnan had on to move and bury the body.

It isn't just the car.
posted by readery at 9:33 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, why do people refer to her as "SK"?

It lets me imagine that Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss are on the case.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:38 AM on December 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'll also point out that reading up on the Ezra Mable case from Pater's blog link, not to say that his case is without merit, but I see he's being represented by Baltimore's version of Saul Goodman.
posted by peeedro at 9:45 AM on December 5, 2014


I refer to her as SK because it's easier than remembering how to spell her last name.
posted by meese at 10:20 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think it would be unfair to drag the boyfriend into this. I am still leery of the entertainment aspect of the show and how it effects real lives.

I've heard this a couple of times, but this is a long-closed case with very little chance of being reopened, and true crime is all over tv channels (TruTV being exclusively dedicated to this, for one) and books and such, and this little podcast is getting tons of scrutiny over doing essentially the same thing, only it's not presenting the case as "over and done, the police did the right thing and everything's great" and not using an omniscient narrator who apparently speaks the unbiased truth.

I'm finding it refreshing to hear the places where SK is clueless and where she doesn't know things and where she's wrong about things and where she goes up blind alleys. She makes no case that she's a lawyer or someone doing anything other than taking another look at a case that someone gave her.
posted by xingcat at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: There is at least a possibility that these particular cops were not driven by racism.

Kattullus: I thought Koenig made it pretty clear that the consultant's report was misleading at best, outright racist at worst. But as she also makes clear, there's no way to tell whether what the investigators made of the report.


I'll be frank, the description of that consultant's report somehow fell out of my head until you mentioned it. Maybe it was so racist that I subconciously had to block it from my memory. It does lend creedence to the claim that the cops were influenced by racism, even if we don't have evidence as to how seriously they took it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:51 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think that what Sarah Koenig is building us up to is simply the idea that each of the elements investigated and presented in the individual podcast episodes added up to a perfect storm against Adnan Syed.

But that doesn't mean he didn't do it.

I don't think the show will come down definitively on one side or the other. Primarily because that would be somewhat irresponsible journalism. And This American Life has been bitten before by someone with arguably much less to gain.

And that's what I think leads to the tease of "...What if he's a psychopath, right?" I think next week's episode will explore the natural question that comes up with those of us raised on the Law & Order, Cold Case Files, and Criminal Minds genre of television. What if he's a psychopath/sociopath manipulating this reporter?

I expect we'll hear a lot about what kind of inmate he's been.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 4:16 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Someone blogged basically the same theory here.

There's a lot about the show that makes me feel super fucking ghoulish for listening to it, but this link from the last part of that blog entry might take the cake:

Whether Adnan will track down Jay and beat the s^&* out of him is another question. Koenig reports that Adnan is a perfect gentleman in prison, well liked and has won awards for being a model prisoner. But he’s probably learned a thing or two while he’s been incarcerated for 15 long years. We’ll see.

What the fuck, man! It's maybe the creepiest example I've yet seen of treating these people like characters in a melodrama, playing up the trope of the man who becomes a ruthless punch machine in prison. Yikes.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:03 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]




oh my god, SK is so, so white. The beginning of this episode, where she basically writes off the family's concern that the prosecution was racially motivated (for, as far as I can tell, basically no reason),

She so doesn't write off the family's concern that she immediately interviews jurors and puts them expressing racially motivated reasons on the podcast.

Also, she was expression doubt that everything, down to Adnan being a suspect was racially motivated, which is what his mother claimed. That's just factually inaccurate. There was someone implicating him. SK may be "so white", whatever that means, but she didn't idea the idea that there was racist tactics in the case itself.
posted by spaltavian at 7:26 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Coming in late, but I think if it seems like the defense attorney's voice would sink the defendant's chances, you should try jury duty. It's a long, weirdly dull but also strangely fascinating day, after day, after day. At least when she stood and started talking, you'd be pretty interested in what she had to say and whether she had some zingers or traps ready. You have to remove yourself from the mindset of having other channels to change to and think about the 8 hour drama playing itself out daily, and the stage she had. I'm sure that up to a point, it worked well. It does sound like she had some kind of mental/emotional break toward the end, maybe to do with her illness. I got the sense (totally unfounded) that she was an unconventional person who could get away with odd ways and eccentricities as long as she prevailed in the end. All the colleagues who said "that's just her way" sounded to me like that was the case. When whatever illness/problem she had started interfering with her ability to rescue herself at the last minute and tie up the hanging ends appropriately, she could no longer come through in the clinch and everything dissolved.
posted by Miko at 9:06 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


and then immediately follows up with a bunch of interviews with jurors who revealed racial bias and pieces of the prosecution's argument that she acknowledges as playing up Muslim stereotypes. Weird, weird, weird.

I took it to mean that she was drawing a distinction between how Adnan's parents see the case (their son is 100% innocent of any wrongdoing and was only fingered by the authorities because he's Muslim), vs. a more nuanced reading of the role bias played in the case.

I mean, the reality is that there are a lot of reasons to think Adnan is probably Hae's killer. The cops didn't pick Adnan up out of the clear blue sky because they were looking for any old Muslim to pin it on. Islamophobia plays a role, but the reason Adnan was arrested and put on trial for this crime is that there are really strong reasons to think that he did it.
posted by Sara C. at 12:17 AM on December 19, 2014


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