Serial: Episode 12: What We Know
December 18, 2014 4:59 AM - Subscribe

On January 13, 1999, Adnan Syed was a hurt and vengeful ex-boyfriend who carried out a premeditated murder. Or he was a bewildered bystander, framed for a crime he could never have committed. After 15 months of reporting, we take out everything we've got - interviews and documents and police reports - we shake it all out, and we see what sticks.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter (517 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
SPOILER:








MailKimp Girl was the killer the whole time.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:41 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


* So much new information is coming in right up to the wire! Especially after it had seemed like solid leads had dried up over the last couple of weeks.

* No one seems to have raised the possibility that Jay (or whoever had Adnan's phone) called Nisha specifically because it was a name in the contact list that he didn't know, to throw off suspicion.

* This felt like an arbitrary place to end the story. This was the first episode where they address the "maybe everyone is lying" scenario. They seem to think it is likely, but don't have time to really flesh it out.

* Plus they also finally have an alternate theory of the killer! It will be very interesting to hear about that DNA evidence. I wonder if they'll end up doing a follow-up special episode next year.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:05 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Commenting before I finish listening (just started!).

My immediate thought is, if Adnan isn't exonerated by this, then what is the point? I feel really sad if this produces more evidence that he's guilty. ):
posted by latkes at 6:30 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm going to listen on the way to work, but I'm not really expecting to change my mind: I don't know if he's innocent or not, but there is reasonable doubt, and this was a bad conviction.
posted by rtha at 6:40 AM on December 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


That was an impressively well-executed finale, I thought. It's hard to imagine a better one (that didn't fully exonerate or condemn Adnan). The influx of new information was exciting. It was more dynamic than I expected.

SK still seems a little too credulous to me. She has a weird view of probability. Being able to come up with an unlimited number of circumstances consistent with the evidence doesn't imply that we can't rank them by likelihood, as she argued at one point.

Once the Innocence Project revealed their plans, I was really curious to see how Adnan would react to the possibility of procuring DNA evidence.
posted by painquale at 6:42 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


REASONABLE DOUBT.
posted by grubi at 7:15 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was pretty startling towards the end of the episode, when SK points out that they only thing we know for sure is that Jay knew where Hae's car was.

I was pretty shocked by how indifferent Enright/the Innocence project was to that fact.

Also, the Serial producers feel pretty confident that Adnan asked Hae for a ride, but at the same time they find Asia McLean's alibi for Adnan credible. Even if Adnan did ask Hae for a ride, it doesn't seem like he got one, since it sounds like one way or another, she left school right away. Gah!
posted by dry white toast at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Except for the wrestling-team manager girl who made it clear that Hae was talking to her until at least 2:45. I can understand SK's frustration that it seems like we know less now than we did when we started.
posted by rikschell at 7:23 AM on December 18, 2014


REASONABLE DOUBT.

Those are definitely two different words, presented in all capital letters, followed by a period.

I was pretty shocked by how indifferent Enright/the Innocence project was to that fact.


Me too! I thought that, "Big picture, Sarah." was a really weird and patronizing thing to say.

SK still seems a little too credulous to me. She has a weird view of probability.

I agree, and I wonder what the show would have been like without Dana's perspective. I appreciated her forthrightness in today's episode and sort of long for a recreation of the season with that sort of clarity. But, well, maybe I'm just saying that because it's how I've been looking at the case, as well.

All in all, this is probably both the best podcast I've ever listened to, and one of the most disappointing. I'm fine with the "I'm not really sure what happened" ending, but if it was going to go down like that, then I wanted to hear more from SK about her journey and what she's learned as a journalist/producer; whose lives she has affected and how that has affected her; how the popularity of the show has affected her, and so on. I don't want to be overly critical because I loved the show so much, but I just feel like the show held so much promise earlier in the season and that promise wasn't fully realized. These people are really good at what they do, though, and I look forward to next season.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:27 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Me too! I thought that, "Big picture, Sarah." was a really weird and patronizing thing to say.

Thinking about it a little more, I think the "big picture" is that she doesn't necessarily think this other guy actually did it; she just needs a somewhat credible theory to get the DNA tested. Her job isn't to find the killer. It's to make sure the wrong guy isn't in jail. And despite all the reasonable doubt in the case, this the only credible path to challenging Adnan's conviction.

I'll tell you though, when her staffer mentioned another girl named Lee who had been strangled, I literally stopped in my tracks. (yes, I realize that fact is almost certainly a coincidence)
posted by dry white toast at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2014 [19 favorites]


I will say this: the whole bit about her colleague, the logical one, the "Mr Spock of the office"... she was not that logical. Her "he'd have to be pretty unlucky" is NOT GOOD LOGIC.

But I can say this: there is literally one piece of evidence we absolutely knew, removing all speculations and second-hands and memories. I said it several weeks ago. And it was the one thing SK said we knew.

And that's why I said to my wife a month ago, "Based on this, there's reasonable doubt. If nothing else, there's reasonable doubt."
posted by grubi at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you though, when her staffer mentioned another girl named Lee who had been strangled, I literally stopped in my tracks. (yes, I realize that fact is almost certainly a coincidence)

AND THE MAN'S MIDDLE NAME WAS ALSO LEE!
posted by grubi at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


La-li-lu-le-lo?

(Revolver Ocelot in the Best Buy with a Candlestick)
posted by selfnoise at 7:44 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Finished this drinking my morning coffee. Made me happy.

Sarah hasn't mentioned, possibly for liability reasons, the reddit theory that the cops led Jay to the car instead of the other way around.
posted by bq at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


So Jay knew where the car was. So - previously undiscussed serial killer somehow crossed paths with Hae, killed her, left her in her car. Jay, in whatever driving around he did that day spots Hae's car, recognizes it, wonders "why is she there," goes over to it and finds body. He doesn't know about the killer, so he assumes this was Adnan's doing because who else, and proceeds to concoct the (assorted) story(ies) he then proceeds to tell the cops.
posted by dnash at 7:55 AM on December 18, 2014


REASONABLE DOUBT.

Yeah. I guess that's what this was always building toward. Given the narrative constructed by Koenig & Co. the state's case was pretty shoddy. So the ultimate conclusion seems to be that whether or not he did it, he should not have been convicted.

Maybe that is an important journalistic message. How most people's idea of the justice system comes from procedural television shows and the expectations that sets up in true crime reporting of any kind. Things don't tie up neatly just because someone is found guilty. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is supposed to be the burden the state, but probably more often than not cases are decided by playing on the same manipulations used to construct a satisfying procedural narrative.

I'm still tired of Sarah Koenig's reportage. Still not a big fan of the way TAL and the like construct things. It's like a bizarre radio play in which the actors play journalists who just happen to have the actor's real names. When she delivers certain lines sometimes I ask, almost reflexively, "That was the best take you got?"

And despite her closing statements, I never believed for a second that Sarah Koenig thought Adnan was guilty. She often phrased things that pointed toward Adnan's guilt as "not looking good for Adnan." That doesn't really feel objective. She took a hard look at Jay, before it was made very clear that was the defense's theory of the crime. And then took a hard look at the defense attorney who presented that theory, perhaps ineffectually. Near the end, it seemed like each episode was just Sarah Koenig casting about for who was to blame for Adnan's incarceration.

At times, I think the internet detective squad is capable of more objectivity than Serial was ever going to be.

Oh. And whether or not it was intentional, I appreciated that the title of this final episode reminded me of MathNet.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 7:57 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


he assumes this was Adnan's doing because who else, and proceeds to concoct the (assorted) story(ies) he then proceeds to tell the cops.

How does that make any sense?? Instead of calling the cops and telling them what he found, he makes up this story that implicates him in the murder when the cops had little reason, up until that point, that he was directly involved?
posted by dry white toast at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This felt like an arbitrary place to end the story. This was the first episode where they address the "maybe everyone is lying" scenario. They seem to think it is likely, but don't have time to really flesh it out.

I'm not really sure where she could go with it, beyond mentioning it as a possibility. If you work with the assumption that everyone is lying.... what then? That just opens up every possibility without end. There's nothing to ground a time line, a motive, anything. It just splits the whole world open.

I thought it was a fantastic end, although I wish it weren't an end. I wish they would come back with some encore episode in a few months, going over the new DNA and other developments.

I also wish SK had let the "I have to acquit" beat last a little longer. That's an insanely big point: the trial was a farce and, even if he's guilty, we should be ashamed of our legal system for putting him in jail for it. Especially in relation to Dana going over how "unlucky" adnan is. Several of the things she mentions only matter if you assume we can trust the process... like how Jay is able to tell a narrative that mostly matches the cell tower report: that only speaks against adnan if you don't focus on how easily the detectives could have (intentionally or not) coached Jay. I would have liked it if SK had gone over all of that again... But, then again, the episode was already an hour long.
posted by meese at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


When she said the last sentence and the closing theme music started rising I just burst into tears. I got so overwhelmed with our criminal justice system and how many people there are who aren't really being served, how reasonable doubt is enough to get some people out and not others, how our prison system isn't working for crime victims either, and teen girls get murdered and there's no reason to believe our courts or prisons prevent that. I guess that's what someone like me who is already a prison abolitionist wants to hear and probably not what everyone gets out of this, but for me it was what turned an ambiguous unknown ending into something powerful.
posted by latkes at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


How does that make any sense?? Instead of calling the cops and telling them what he found, he makes up this story that implicates him in the murder when the cops had little reason, up until that point, that he was directly involved?

I'm not saying my "theory" is anything other than half baked. (It's nothing more than raw dough.) I'm just trying to suggest that it may not be impossible to have a scenario in which the random serial killer did the crime and also Jay finds the car.
posted by dnash at 8:12 AM on December 18, 2014


So - previously undiscussed serial killer somehow crossed paths with Hae, killed her, left her in her car. Jay, in whatever driving around he did that day spots Hae's car, recognizes it, wonders "why is she there," goes over to it and finds body.

Hae's body was found by Mr. S out in the woods. It doesn't really damage your theory -- Jay recognizes Hae's car and leads the cops to it -- but it doesn't explain why Jay says he helped dispose of the body.
posted by Etrigan at 8:22 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought Josh's evidence was a startlingly strong new point in the case against Adnan. Another completely independent witness backing up Jay's story. It sounded very plausible: Josh didn't believe Jay's story at first; Jay was scared; Josh said Jay told him the killer was "middle eastern" -- it's just the kind of mistake people would make. It sounds real.

Between Josh and Dana, Sarah laid out a very strong case for Adnan's guilt and then veered at the end on the basis that she thought he was just too nice a guy to do it.
posted by shivohum at 8:34 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Being able to come up with an unlimited number of circumstances consistent with the evidence doesn't imply that we can't rank them by likelihood, as she argued at one point.
painquale

But she's right that they're all equally useless without hard evidence. Sure a theory involving aliens and time travel is less likely than one that carefully sticks to what we know, but both are meaningless without corroborating evidence.

In this very thread you see theories floated about things like the cops leading Jay to the car, Jay calling Nisha to create suspicion, and Jay finding the serial killer's murder and lying to the cops. We could rank these as to likelihood, but so what?

Likely doesn't mean it happened, and the danger with speculation is that you satisfy yourself that you've come up with a likely explanation and so it must be the right one. It's that kind of thinking that leads cops to zero in on a suspect, form a story, and only look for evidence that supports that story.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:39 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I found Josh barely credible. No, not quite. I found that I couldn't accept his story, simply because he's been tainted by the existence of Serial. If SK had found him and interviewed him before Serial started, or even before it blew big, that would be one thing. But basically, Serial started, became huge, and he sort of came out of the woodwork. Maybe Josh should have been interviewed by the police, or by SK, but nothing he said was new, or something that he couldn't have heard on the podcast. And he said he was a listener.
posted by X-Himy at 8:40 AM on December 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


Between Josh and Dana, Sarah laid out a very strong case for Adnan's guilt and then veered at the end on the basis that she thought he was just too nice a guy to do it.

No, she veered because there's not enough evidence to seek a conviction.

I ask you to strip down the case to just the provable facts and tell me: what conclusion should she have (read: she failed to) come to?
posted by grubi at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


From the title, I was hoping they'd find a stray killer.
Did the police refuse to participate? Because if we are randomly voting for our pet theories, I go for corrupt Balmer cops shaping Jay's testimony and his view of things. Providing a lawyer and a deal and all those story shifts and interviews-- I could see them stoking his fears with middle eastern bogeymen.

I kinda wish they'd stick with a thread from this story, screwy Baltimore carnival justice or accidentally released convicts, but it's going to be hard to find a journalistic piece that isn't disruptive, that's just not the nature of the beast even if it's not a murder case.
posted by provoliminal at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm still tired of Sarah Koenig's reportage. Still not a big fan of the way TAL and the like construct things.

Well, sure, I mean...

I never believed for a second that Sarah Koenig thought Adnan was guilty.

I suppose, but...

At times, I think the internet detective squad is capable of more objectivity than Serial was ever going to be.

That... what... wait a second...

posted by SinisterPurpose

AHA!
posted by grubi at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I found that I couldn't accept his story, simply because he's been tainted by the existence of Serial.

Are you claiming he's just straight up lying, or acquired some completely false memory of that month? What evidence is there for that? To me, he said too many things with too many nuances, too many plausible mistakes, and too many things that make both him and Jay look bad for his story to be made-up.

No, she veered because there's not enough evidence to seek a conviction.

She made two conclusions: one as to whether she'd vote to convict and another as to whether he actually did it. On the latter point, she basically said she didn't think he was guilty based on her conversations with him. But as Adnan himself said at one point, she doesn't really know him just because she's spoken with him on the phone.

Though there may or may not have been enough evidence to convict, I think there's more than enough evidence to make it very likely indeed that Adnan's guilty.
posted by shivohum at 8:53 AM on December 18, 2014


I'll tell you though, when her staffer mentioned another girl named Lee who had been strangled, I literally stopped in my tracks.

I was halfway from my car to my office door when this part came up and I said "Are you fucking kidding me?!" I mean, I don't think that bit Means Something, but still.
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

That cuts both ways. Adnan's string of incredibly bad luck seems very unlikely, but it's possible. And personally, I think it's a lot more possible when you consider Jay as a suspect, which I do. It's also improbable that the cops found Hae's car, and then coached Jay into acting as a witness.

That's the thing that you absolutely cannot ignore, that Jay knew where Hae's car was. If we assume that he knew because the cops told him and coached him (as it seems like they did for a lot of his testimony), then we have to assume a widespread conspiracy and coverup among the cops, with nothing getting out. It assumes a falsification of the tipoff call, and a whole lot besides. When weighing improbabilities, this second option seems so improbable as to be almost impossible. I mean, it's Baltimore, and as recent events have shown police are not angels. But that's a lot of people to keep a secret, and it's a lot of work to go through to close a case.

So I think we can be fairly safe in assuming that Jay knew about the location of Hae's car absent the cops, that the cops found the location from him. Which inescapably means that Jay is involved in some way. Again, we could make some assumption that Jay came across the car and then instead of telling the cops that told them a story which more and more implicated him in the crime. And that seems simply ludicrous on the face of it. So, Jay knew where to find Hae's car, he is involved. Adnan is implicated because A) he's an ex, B) anonymous tipoff, and C) Jay's testimony.

Any police worth the tiniest grain of salt is going to look at close relations, and a recent ex with whom she is still close is an obvious person to look into. But to my mind, Jay's testimony is not only suspect it's almost completely unreliable. As shown by links in previous threads, it never keeps itself straight, it regularly changes and sometimes in ways that seem nonsensical and sometimes vast. Jay's actions, by his own admission, seem massively improbable (which of course doesn't mean impossible), and don't always fit to other evidence or testimony from other witnesses. It seems pretty clear that Jay was not only coached and massaged by police and prosecution, but was also represented by a lawyer who was essentially the prosecutions catspaw.

The Serial crew has shown that most of the evidence against Adnan is circumstantial at best. And that most of it is either wrong (butt dial), or not remotely iron clad (the cell phone tower stuff). The timeline doesn't work, most of the evidence placing Adnan here or there doesn't work.

I don't know who did it, if Adnan or Jay or both or neither is guilty. But what should be clear is that this case clearly doesn't rise to the necessary legal standard. That defense counsel was not competent in following up on things like the Asia alibi, and that the prosecution and police engaged in some seriously shady stuff. Not to mention the racism in establish Adnan's character and motive.
posted by X-Himy at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


She made two conclusions: one as to whether she'd vote to convict and another as to whether he actually did it.

She drew no conclusions as to whether he did it. She only said she couldn't say confidently that he didn't do it.
posted by dry white toast at 8:56 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


shivohum, what did Josh say that wasn't in earlier episodes of Serial and that could be independently verified? This problem happened with a lot of the other people interviewed, but a lot of them were interviewed by a reporter and either confirmed what was recorded at the contemporary time, or provided information that provided a backstop for other evidence (or a plausible explanation against the conventional narrative). The difference between the latter and Josh is that they did so without foreknowledge of Serial, without it becoming this big thing in the public consciousness of at least a certain subset of people. They gave information without particular benefit or detriment to themselves.

Obviously I have nothing to base this on, but Josh's late appearance simply rang of "this is my chance to be a part of this thing." It's like the nutters and psychics that ring up the police claiming to have information.
posted by X-Himy at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


She drew no conclusions as to whether he did it. She only said she couldn't say confidently that he didn't do it.

"So just as a human being walking down the street next week, what do I think? If you ask me to swear that Adnan Syed is innocent, I couldn't do it... But I mean most of the time, I think he didn't do it. For big reasons, like the utter lack of evidence, but also small reasons, things he said to me just off-the-cuff or moments when he's cried on the phone and tried to stifle it so I wouldn't hear. And just the bare fact of why on Earth would a guilty man agree to let me do this story, unless he was cocky to the point of delusion?"
--
It's like the nutters and psychics that ring up the police claiming to have information.

But if that's what he was going for, Josh could have been way more sensationalistic and provided a lot more unverifiable information. For example, he could have said Jay mentioned Adnan by name; but he didn't -- he said it might have been someone else. As it was, Josh was very self-effacing and iffy on the story, and again, said lots of things that made both him and Jay look bad.
posted by shivohum at 9:13 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Josh was reporting what Jay told him at the time that he was afraid of some unknown. What I think he was afraid of was the police. I think by the timeline he knew that Jenn had been contacted , but was not yet aware of the fact that the police were already building a case against Adnan. And the case against Adnan was based on the unknown Asian man's tip and Adnan's cell phone records. He's a kid just like Adnan's a kid. For all he knows the police are watching him from a van. At least that was my thought. The whole conspiracy thing and west side hit men? Just not plausible. Everyone says all along no matter what they think of Jay, guilty or not, good guy or bad guy, that he's a bullshitter.

My experience with bullshitters is that they make up all kinds of somewhat plausible stories right off the cuff. He was noticeably nervous? The first thing he'd jump to would be bullshit. He was nervous about being questioned about the murder. But once he was questioned, the cops were already working the Adnan angle and the cell phone record. Everything just needed to fit that narrative. Which it did.

The weirdest thing I took away is the prosecutor yelling at Don for not making Adnan out to be a monster. WTF?
posted by readery at 9:20 AM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


It's also improbable that the cops found Hae's car, and then coached Jay into acting as a witness.

It would be improbable, if they hadn't done exactly that sort of thing before. "Them" being this specific lead detective.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:24 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


My wife and I watched 12 Angry Men a couple weeks ago. Seeing that reframed SK for me - she's the Henry Fonda of this story. She chases down the inconsistencies, points out the conflicting evidence, and help us reconsider what we know as "fact". How she ends Episode 12 reinforces that - much like Fonda she can't say for sure Guilty or Innocent, only that she doesn't know. And, just like the end of 12 Angry Men we're left with reasonable doubt.

The case is a mess, things are screwed up, and Adnan is still in jail. But, there is a chance things will change, the case will be revisited, and he may be released. To what life? Hard to say.
posted by jazon at 9:30 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


The whole conspiracy thing and west side hit men? Just not plausible. Everyone says all along no matter what they think of Jay, guilty or not, good guy or bad guy, that he's a bullshitter.

But why is he telling Josh these things, and admitting that he helped dig the grave? That seems incredibly unlikely if he was actually afraid of the police.

The only other possibility is if Jay was some kind of criminal mastermind, who'd plotted out what he'd need to say to random third parties like Josh in order to substantiate his framing of Adnan, before, as you say, he even knew Adnan was being targeted by the police. But of course, while still telling Josh that he buried the body. It's really a stretch.
posted by shivohum at 9:47 AM on December 18, 2014


Don's contribution was so interesting. He definitely didn't come across as a suspect. If he killed Hae, he has everything to gain by painting Adnan as jealous and unpredictable. And yet his description hurt the DA's case. (not fatally obviously).
posted by dry white toast at 9:49 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


why is he telling Josh these things, and admitting that he helped dig the grave?

When it comes to liars, who cares why? He's a liar. There is no explanation that will sit right — because he's a liar. Nothing he says is of any value.
posted by grubi at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2014


Jay lied multiple times. We do not know the exact percentage of what's a lie, but there are significant lies throughout his stories. There is also significant portions that do not line up with the evidence or other witnesses, which has some overlap with the lies. But there are known, purposeful lies in his story.

This has to through everything Jay said into doubt. If Jay's story was true, and he really was just an unwilling accessory after the fact, he wouldn't tell bizarre lies like the Patapsco State Park story, and he and Jen wouldn't be disagreeing on so much.

I think we're left with three possibilities:

Jay did it
Jay did it with Adnan
Someone else did it, and Jay is some sort of strange fabulist/fed the story by the cops, and the cops lead him to the car

What we pretty much know for sure is that Jay's story isn't true.
posted by spaltavian at 9:54 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Was it clear that the Josh story happened before the body was found?
posted by spaltavian at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2014




The opening of the episode, particularly the recent call with Adnan where he asks "don't you have an ending?" - it was like the Funny or Die parody came to life for a minute there. I LOL'd.
posted by dnash at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


What we pretty much know for sure is that Jay's story isn't true.
spaltavian

No, what we know is that Jay's story is suspect. We know at least some parts are false, but we don't know all parts are therefore false.

As SK notes, the only thing we we do know is that Jay knew where the car was. We can speculate about police coercion or lies, but right now the only fact we have is that Jay's story is true in that regard. Until we get evidence showing otherwise, that stands.

So right now at least that part of Jay's story is true. SK also notes that his story covering 6-8pm also roughly matches the cell phone evidence, so that's not entirely fabricated either.

And even if his story is 100% false, it doesn't lead to your three possibilities. There has been no reason given to think Jay did it. There's no motive, no history of violent behavior. Everyone universally agrees that though he has this "bad kid" image he's not actually a gangster and has never done anything. Everyone also agrees he was full of shit and lied a lot.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:27 AM on December 18, 2014


he has this "bad kid" image he's not actually a gangster and has never done anything

OK, i read way too much of the Redditt thread, but he does have a criminal record, especially after the Hae murder. There's even something with a domestic violence. At work so can't find it now, but once his name was out there, his record was easily available.
posted by readery at 10:30 AM on December 18, 2014


One thing that bothers me with Dana's "he'd have to be super unlucky argument" is that when you think about all the murders in the US in the past twenty years, the probability of finding one with a super unlucky innocent suspect starts to seem pretty high. Especially since this case was brought to SK's attention because there were weird questions around it; it's not some perfectly randomly selected murder from the set of all murders.
posted by carolr at 10:35 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


I agree that Jay does tend to lie, but I don't think that makes the core of his story false.

What, other than the location of the car and the cell phone matching up do we know? Everything that Dana said, including the Nisha call and the fact that Adnan asked Hae for a ride that day. We know that unlike Don, Adnan did not immediately go over the day's events when the police called him. We know that Adnan claims he wasn't close to Jay, yet lent him a cell phone and a car. We know that Adnan smoothly lied about his girlfriend to his family. Those are all facts too.

Also -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but isn't it the case that Adnan never, anywhere throughout this series, talks in emotional terms about Hae's death, and about how he is pissed off that the real perpetrator got away? Isn't that an interesting omission? Even if he were innocent and yet had come to terms with his own conviction, wouldn't something about his ex-girlfriend's death going unavenged still gall?
posted by shivohum at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


isn't it the case that Adnan never, anywhere throughout this series, talks in emotional terms about Hae's death, and about how he is pissed off that the real perpetrator got away? Isn't that an interesting omission?

But not evidence.
posted by grubi at 10:49 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Also -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but isn't it the case that Adnan never, anywhere throughout this series, talks in emotional terms about Hae's death, and about how he is pissed off that the real perpetrator got away? Isn't that an interesting omission? Even if he were innocent and yet had come to terms with his own conviction, wouldn't something about his ex-girlfriend's death going unavenged still gall?
shivohum

SK specifically addresses this in one episode and points out that it's fruitless. Different people react differently and there's no way to know what's going on in someone's mind based on how you think they should be acting. Some people cry and some people rage and some people don't show much outward sign of emotion.

One episode does in fact have Adnan talking about how he was upset when he first got in but over the years he was able to find a kind of peace. He was upset in that episode that SK's investigation had opened up old wounds and broke that peace a little.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:57 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


But not evidence.

It may not be evidence in court, but it's certainly evidence in evaluating the truth of what happened.

Some people cry and some people rage and some people don't show much outward sign of emotion.

Well if I recall correctly, SK was just talking about Adnan's reaction to the presumed injustice of his own imprisonment.

But that does not address the issue of Hae's real killer, which is a different point. And whatever emotion Adnan might have displayed with respect to that point is a moot issue -- since he doesn't even mention it. I do think that's a serious omission. For an innocent person whose ex-girlfriend was brutally strangled by someone who was never found not to even bring up that killer who's still out there, a topic which goes beyond his own selfish interests, not to talk about it even if in a cold, detached, logical way... that speaks volumes.
posted by shivohum at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


It may not be evidence in court, but it's certainly evidence in evaluating the truth of what happened.

Is it? Adnan points out, accurately, that SK doesn't know him just because she's talked to him on the phone. We know him even less. He's basically come of age in prison: we don't know who he is, and we really don't know who he used to be.

You might have thought I was .... not right in the head, exactly, if you'd seen me right when my mom died. I might not have acted like you expect people to act, when their last parent dies. What does that tell you? It tells you that you know a lot less about how people act than you think you do. We all do.
posted by rtha at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


Sangermaine; What we pretty much know for sure is that Jay's story isn't true.
spaltavian

No, what we know is that Jay's story is suspect. We know at least some parts are false


That means his story, isn't true. It may be that he didn't lie about everything, or that Adnan is guilty anyway, but Jay's story about where he and Adnan were isn't true. He manufactured vivid details of a trip that either didn't happen, or did meaning most of the rest of his story isn't true. The whole point of the story is to deceive, even if it contains some un-corrupted facts.

Jay's a suspect because he waded into this story with the location of the car. His story is absurd on the face; the timelines don't match, he's known to be making up factors and he and Jen can't even agree on how they disposed of evidence. Jay's story didn't happen. Either he did it, he did it with Adnan, or the cops led him to the car. Jay kept lying once already admitted to being an accessory; and those lies/discrepancies and changes in his story is trend in three directions 1) minimizing his role to "merely" disposing of the body and evidence 2)confirming the state's case where it didn't previously, and 3) incomprehensibility. Trend 1 points to Jay being more than an accessory and to being the perpetrator accomplice, while 2 and 3 point that the same possibilities and to the cops leading Jay.
posted by spaltavian at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


And whatever emotion Adnan might have displayed with respect to that point is a moot issue -- since he doesn't even mention it. I do think that's a serious omission.

Putting aside the fact that 16 years have passed and Adnan, at least as portrayed, seems to have reached a certain level of peace about what happened, we don't know whether the omission here is Adnan's or an editing decision by Sarah Koenig. Presumably over the course of a year they had many many hours of discussion that were not included in the podcast.
posted by something something at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2014 [16 favorites]


shivohum: Also -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but isn't it the case that Adnan never, anywhere throughout this series, talks in emotional terms about Hae's death, and about how he is pissed off that the real perpetrator got away? Isn't that an interesting omission?

No. It's meaningless. The problem with what you are doing is projecting yourself in the position of a falsely accused man and thinking how you would feel, and then faulting Adnan for not doing what you would do.

What you should be doing is projecting yourself into the the position of someone who was falsely accused of a crime 15 years ago, who has been incarcerated since that time, has little hope of getting out, and has been through a criminal justice system where you don't really get anywhere by being indignant, standing up for yourself, or being righteous.

You're doing the same thing people do where they insist they would never take a plea bargain if they were innocent. But sometimes that's the only option you have.

Here's the thing, if I committed a crime, I would still be pissed off about going to jail even though I was guilty. That's no more evidence of my innocence than Adnan's resignation is evidence of his guilt. This sort of armchair analysis isn't "interesting", it's bullshitting.
posted by spaltavian at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2014 [20 favorites]


I don't know how to take what Don shared. I am not at all saying I think he's a suspect, but his account of the time after Hae was murdered is so weird to me. They were actually dating at the time, and he never tried to find her when she went missing. He didn't even pay close enough attention to the trial of her accused murderer (a trial he testified in!) to know who Jay was, the guy who apparently helped hide his girlfriend's body.
posted by lunasol at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


shivohum: Also -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but isn't it the case that Adnan never, anywhere throughout this series, talks in emotional terms about Hae's death, and about how he is pissed off that the real perpetrator got away? Isn't that an interesting omission?

You're assuming we've heard everything Adnan has talked about with SK on the matter, when I expect that's not even close to the case. For all we know he did talk about it, but he and/or SK decided not to include those conversations, possibly to avoid causing issues with any new legal proceedings, possibly to spare the emotions of his family and Hae's family. He's tried to be pretty dispassionate throughout the series.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:56 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The whole point of the story is to deceive, even if it contains some un-corrupted facts.

Yep. Which is why, as an unreliable witness, everything he says from here on out, even if it is the absolute truth, must be dismissed. You don't give weight to that which doesn't merit weight.
posted by grubi at 11:56 AM on December 18, 2014


Every time Dana was like "Well he sure is UNLUCKY", i couldn't help but think of the Strange Case Of The Two William Wests.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


For an innocent person whose ex-girlfriend was brutally strangled by someone who was never found not to even bring up that killer who's still out there, a topic which goes beyond his own selfish interests, not to talk about it even if in a cold, detached, logical way... that speaks volumes.

Is your opinion based on your experience of spending fifteen years in prison for a crime you didn't commit?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:09 PM on December 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


My wife remarked this morning (Thursday mornings are spent with each of us listening to the new episode while we shower in our separate showers) that the description they gave of Hae's personality was almost identical to Adnan's. She's smart, well-liked, likable, and social. Which are reasons people like her. "But when it's Adnan, that makes him a sociopath?"
posted by grubi at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


The fact that Don didn't ever call her after she went missing is really weird to me. I mean, they were dating, right? And they worked together. He claims he was "in love" with her, but he didn't call her?

I am intrigued by the possibility of DNA evidence being tested, but this whole serial killer idea is pretttttty far-fetched. Especially considering JAY KNEW WHERE HER CAR WAS.
posted by radioamy at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Unrelated to the episode specifically but more on the injustices in the criminal justice system. It's so important for prisoners to maintain contact with the outside world, but the cost of that contact is a hardship for them and their families. Global Tel-Link has a near-monopoly on prisoner phone calls, and their fees are outrageous. The way they got the contract is highly unusual compared to most government contracts, as well.
posted by radioamy at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


JAY KNEW WHERE HER CAR WAS.

And that's still a bit of an If. If he wasn't led to the site by the cops. See above for the links to remarks about the same investigator having led witnesses and confessions.

Not evidence, but it casts the "Jay knew where the car was" in a shadow just a bit.
posted by grubi at 12:53 PM on December 18, 2014


Adnan did not immediately go over the day's events when the police called him.

Because he was stoned when they called him and, at that moment, more concerned with them finding weed on him?

All the ways people are listing that Adnan's behaviour demonstrates he probably did it also conveniently forget that Adnan called the police himself when they found Hae's body to say they must have made a mistake.

And this is the problem. We can all pick out the pieces of information, true or not, that fit our own pet theories. I catch myself doing it. And there is so much conjecture and stories from witnesses to various parts of the narrative, when we know that eyewitness testimony is highly unreliable.

When they started explaining the ways the cell phone data conflicts with all three of Adnan's, Jay's and Jen's storylines, this officially became a clusterfuck.

The fairest assessment is as follows:

-No one, except the killer, knows anything, including the police
-There was enough circumstantial evidence to link Adnan to the crime
-The police and the DA did what they had to do to get a conviction, including setting up Jay with a lawyer
-Adnan's defence was inadequate at best
-There is reasonable doubt as to Adnan's guilt.
posted by dry white toast at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


I am intrigued by the possibility of DNA evidence being tested, but this whole serial killer idea is pretttttty far-fetched.
radioamy

People, this thread included, are deeply misunderstanding the point of the Innocence Project bringing up the serial killer angle.

It's not an actual alternate theory, it's an excuse to get the DNA examination motion granted. That's what the "big picture" comment meant: the goal is to get Adnan out of jail if he's innocent. Nothing else matters, not resolving Jay's story, not finding the "real" killer, nothing, beyond how they contribute to the goal.

The serial killer thing gives them a reason to give to the court for why the DNA should be looked at.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2014 [29 favorites]


I wish there could be one more episode in which all they do is pull back from the specific case and have a meta-discussion about what this season and this case tell us about the nature of human memory and what prompts individuals to act the way they act. And how we interpret what we hear. There will be a sociology thesis or three written about Serial, I'm sure.
posted by dry white toast at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


So what happens if the DNA doesn't match Adnan, but also doesn't match anyone else?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2014


My sense, and I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong, is that it's not like they run the DNA through a computer and it spits out a name. If they get an order to test the DNA to see if it matches serial killer dude, I don't know that they can test it against anyone else's DNA.
posted by dry white toast at 1:04 PM on December 18, 2014




My point is that, as far as "big picture" goes, if the serial killer's DNA is not a match, well, how does that help Adnan's big picture?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 1:13 PM on December 18, 2014


Because it's not Adnan's DNA. Unless it is.

A theory: Jay could have recognized Hae's car while in the area, built up the story after her body was found, and told enough people bits of the story that it got to the police.

Also, I think when the cops call someone Asian, it probably means East Asian.
posted by provoliminal at 1:19 PM on December 18, 2014


I'll tell you though, when her staffer mentioned another girl named Lee who had been strangled, I literally stopped in my tracks [...] I mean, I don't think that bit Means Something, but still.

It doesn't mean nothing nothing. They were both Korean. Serial killers have patterns. It doesn't prove anything, but it does mean something.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's not an actual alternate theory, it's an excuse to get the DNA examination motion granted.

Oh okay that actually makes a lot more sense. Thanks.
posted by radioamy at 1:26 PM on December 18, 2014


Because it's not Adnan's DNA.

...in which case, what?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 1:40 PM on December 18, 2014


I don't get why people keep trying to come up with ways Jay did it. What's his motivation? He doesn't even have the jilted ex-lover angle Adnan has. Jay just decided to murder some girl he didn't really know for no reason and pin it on Adnan for kicks?
posted by Sangermaine at 1:49 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because it's not Adnan's DNA.

...in which case, what?


It seems to me that if it's Jay's DNA, probably not much, given that he has already confessed to having handled the body; but if it's someone else's entirely, then that can be taken to the court to ask for a new trial.
posted by Etrigan at 1:50 PM on December 18, 2014


Jay's motive would be revenge against Adnan because he was jealous that Adnan and Stephanie seemed to be too chummy. I think that's pretty thin gruel as a motive, but to the extent that Jay has one, that would be it.
posted by dry white toast at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's his motivation?

What does it matter? Plenty of people are murdered without motive — beyond the victim being dead. "Motive" is overemphasized.
posted by grubi at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Plenty of people are murdered without motive — beyond the victim being dead.

I actually don't think this is true at all. People don't just murder without motive. People don't just go around slaughtering each other, there's a reason they do it: jealousy, money, revenge, etc. Only actual psychopaths don't need a motive, and there's been no evidence of Jay being that.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


So I just mainlined the series at 1.5 speed. Which made me realize how slowly people talk.

My main takeaways (of which there are apparently many):

1. I wish they had delved in a bit more about the shift of how Americans perceived Muslims in 1999 vs post 9/11. Not that there wasn't racism. But my recollection is that it was much closer to Orientalism than the current Brown Terrorist. Civil rights was low enough on their radar they trended Republican. But I don't know Baltimore. Maybe the early smaller WTC bombing had already started that shift further north.

2. Is there a reason we didn't connect Adnan's call to the police with the unknown Asian tip? Was it recorded and easy to dismiss? Because I could imagine scrawled notes being misconstrued. I'm the ex boyfriend and you need to keep looking for Hae because she's definitely not dead. Look into the ex boyfriend when you're looking at Hae's death.

3. Did Jay know where the car was? I imagine he's a drug dealer. He knows a dozen good places to ditch a car. For all we know, he mentioned dozens of possible locations before the right spot showed up.

4. I want to like Don. But I kinda feel like he was a serious credible suspect that didn't get looked at. His mom was the manager at the store? Hae had a great time that night and was planning on seeing him later, yet he never called? He says he originally assumed she went to California to be with Dad, but he bones up his alibi as though he's a suspect? And I probably wouldn't want to be a prosecution witness either. The harder I hit Adnan, the harder the defense looks at me. And do I really want to send an innocent guy to jail for my crime of passion? Seems equally believable she wanted to go to California. He was on board to get her there. She wants to go alone, he snaps. All the rest happens.

5. Hell. Two people believed Hae might run away to California story in the middle of January. At least one did not murder her. I understand respect for the dead. But clearly the girl had shit going on, if it was credible that she'd going to book it to Cali in the middle of the school year without warning. If it was just that Adnan was obsessed with her, why'd she tell him? Or call him to look at the car? It feels like there's some big gap in Hae's life that could house a hundred suspects, including some unknown that implicates Jay.
posted by politikitty at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2014 [17 favorites]


Politikitty makes a good point about the whole "oh I thought she'd gone to California." What kind of honors student just bails on school/life without warning at the beginning of her final semester?
posted by radioamy at 2:12 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know that anyone is saying Jay killed her, but why confess to helping hide her body? What is the motive there? Why be so chatty about it?
There could be a vaunted web of paranoia, stupidity, brain cloud and threats that will never make sufficient "sense."

I never knew why the Nisha call was suppose to be so crucial when she clearly only mentions one only after that time.

These kids were all around 17, the peak average age of the most impulsive violence in males.
There's a few verified facts and a few things everyone agrees on. I can understand both Adnan and Don not calling after she's supposed missing. Don knows he's a suspect and probably freaked out. Adnan is freaked out but getting updates directly from friends. Obviously the family is involved and friends suspect she may have run off, in which case she would contact people if she wanted to. Taking off in your teens? Why not? Makes more sense that turning up murdered. We know nothing about her family other than that they were strict while she was very self possessed.

One of the things everyone agrees on is Jay is not telling the whole story, so why. For all we know it was part of a bigger deal, a bigger charge, and/or protecting someone. The options are endless.

Oh, and details like the red gloves and red thread sound so carefully place it's painful.
posted by provoliminal at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2014


I rather enjoyed this Vulture piece "The ‘Serial’ Ending Never Belonged to Us, or Even to Adnan — It Was Koenig’s All Along"
especially since the author points out how few people bother to pronounce Adnan properly. Did that bother anyone else?
posted by radioamy at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Politikitty makes a good point about the whole "oh I thought she'd gone to California." What kind of honors student just bails on school/life without warning at the beginning of her final semester?

Yes, because teenagers are never, ever impulsive and always think things through.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:23 PM on December 18, 2014


Did Hae have a cellphone? Because it's 1999, how do you call someone who goes missing if they don't have a cellphone? They're missing so you can't call home. It's pretty early internet days, so how do you look up Dad's number in CA?
posted by garlic at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


This Biggie remix of the theme song is kind of amazing

Also fun: this Mail Kimp Remix.

(On the subject of "Kimp" [sic]: the explanation for her hesitant stumble on the name is surely: it's in capital letters on a card, only someone has hastily written the H with the two upstrokes leaning in towards each other, so that it looks like an A: MAILCAIMP. No?)
posted by progosk at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just assumed it was a little kid who wasn't familiar with the word "chimp"; if you're sounding out an unfamiliar word that starts with "ch" (particularly if you have any kind of musical background that would expose you to choirs or choruses or chords) hard-k is a pretty reasonable guess as the sound that "ch" makes.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:48 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I always heard it as "Mail Ca-himp".
posted by grubi at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2014


I just assumed it was a little kid who wasn't familiar with the word "chimp"

Nope: "Elise Bergerson of This American Life confirms that she is a female teenager, around age 13."
posted by progosk at 3:05 PM on December 18, 2014


It seems possible that a 13 year old would be unfamiliar with "chimp" as a nickname for chimpanzees, though; I mean, I definitely don't talk a lot about chimps in my day to day life. I stand by the core of my theory: someone is sounding it out, using known words like chemistry and Christmas as their model.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:20 PM on December 18, 2014


Well when I was thirteen, I certainly knew the word "chimp"!
posted by grubi at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Here's a collection of video clips about Hae, including a brief TV interview with her (I think this was alluded to in the show).
posted by radioamy at 3:31 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just assumed it was a little kid who wasn't familiar with the word "chimp"

I always heard an accent and assumed non-native English speaker.
posted by kitcat at 3:35 PM on December 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


I've been thinking a lot about the roles played by teenage impulsivity, posturing, and decision making.

I'm about the same age as most of the folks involved in the case, and I made so many questionable decisions in the late 90s that I cannot begin to enumerate them.* So, so many. I would have thought nothing of borrowing an acquaintance's cell phone for the day (the few kids who had them were accustomed to lending them out), or lending something to someone I barely knew, or trying to roll with someone's crazy story about how so-and-so had run away to California or witnessed a crime.

I have to imagine that some of the disparities surrounding Hae Min Lee's murder come not from falsehoods or faulty memories or missing evidence, but the fact that teenagers are inherently poor narrators with downright terrible decision making skills. Seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds aren't logical creatures. They're overgrown kids playacting as adults—sometimes with tragic consequences.

*Coincidentally, one of my decisions ended up involving Baltimore County, a missing persons report, and the police. Thankfully, it had a much, much happier outcome for everyone involved.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


shivohum: But that does not address the issue of Hae's real killer, which is a different point. And whatever emotion Adnan might have displayed with respect to that point is a moot issue -- since he doesn't even mention it. I do think that's a serious omission. For an innocent person whose ex-girlfriend was brutally strangled by someone who was never found not to even bring up that killer who's still out there, a topic which goes beyond his own selfish interests, not to talk about it even if in a cold, detached, logical way... that speaks volumes.

Adnan brings up "whoever did it" (in those words) in the last episode. Starting at 49:12 he says:
I mean, I don't think you'll ever have a hundred percent or, you know what I'm saying, any type of certainty about it. The only person in the whole world who can have that is me. And, I mean, for what it's worth, whoever did it. You know, you'll never have that. I don't think you will.
posted by Kattullus at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2014


Koenig did the only thing that could possibly have been done at this point: do the job the defense attorney should have done back then and point out all the ways the investigation failed to draw straight lines and introduce reasonable doubt. It seems clear to me that if he'd had even remotely adequate counsel he wouldn't have been convicted.

What she hasn't done - and what I don't think she can do this far away from the murder itself (and she alludes to it in the final episode) - is to investigate the case enough to find out who did it. There are lots of pieces of information here but what's missing is because the police at the time never bothered to go find it. Some of that is certainly because once they had Jay's statement that he helped Adnan bury the body they built a case around that. Reminding us, again, that the legal system isn't about getting an A+ in Truth; it's about getting a C- in Justice.
posted by marylynn at 4:40 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


God, I hate the "he's so unlucky!" thing. Yes, what an astonishing coincidence that (if we assume Adnan is innocent) Jay decided to blame the guy whose car and phone he had possession of on the day of the crime!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:58 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


How unlucky he asked Hae for a ride the day she disappeared. How unlucky he called Hae three times the night before. How unlucky Jay butt-dialed Nisha. How unlucky Adnan wrote "I will kill" on one of Hae's notes. How unlucky he knows what he did throughout the day but not the time of the abduction. How unlucky nobody remembers seeing him at track practice. How unlucky the cell phone pinged the Leakin Park tower at the time of the alleged burial. Honestly, if he's innocent, he's a pretty unlucky dude.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:24 PM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


How unlucky he asked Hae for a ride the day she disappeared.

And there is no evidence that she gave him one. But there evidence that Hae was still at Woodlawn talking to her friend about wrestling when the prosecution said she was being murdered. And Asia Mclaine gives Adnan an alibi for that time period also.

How unlucky he called Hae three times the night before.

They were friends. That's not particularly unusual.

How unlucky Adnan wrote "I will kill" on one of Hae's notes.

Totally circumstantial. It's the 90s. 'I will totally kill you' isn't a threat of violence. 'Kill' was and is often used in common parlance, figuratively.

How unlucky the cell phone pinged the Leakin Park tower at the time of the alleged burial.

The cell phone evidence is massively unreliable.

The prosecution's case is far shakier than you suggest.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:38 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't know that anyone is saying Jay killed her, but why confess to helping hide her body? What is the motive there?

Given the report about the lead detective coercing witnesses in the past, and Jay's drug dealing, a reasonably plausible explanation is something along these lines:

0: At some point, the cops become aware of Jay, and investigate him at least partially while following up on Hae's disappearance. Either they know already, or find out during this, that he's a drug dealer.

1: Hae's body is found buried in Leakin Park

2: The cops think Adnan did it, but can't prove it.

3: The cops find Hae's car.

4: The cops go to Jay, trap him in a drug deal or just plant evidence, and say: we know Adnan did it, but we can't prove all the specifics. You're going to be our witness, or we're going to put you in jail on drug charges. If you work with us, we'll ensure that you end up with no jail time (and note that he did no jail time, despite admitting to burying the body).

5: Jay agrees, and basically comes up with a whole theory of how it happened based on coaching from the cops.

Now, granted, I'm not saying this did happen, or is even the most likely situation. But, it is within the realm of possibility. It explains why his story changes, and why threads seem to just be dropped as he refines it. It even explains why Jay is so adamant that Adnan did it -- because the cops convinced him that Adnan was guilty, and that Jay's involvement was simply righting a wrong that the justice system couldn't through its normal channels.

And to state the obvious: if this theory is correct, that doesn't mean Adnan didn't do it. It's still only pointing to the state's case being bad.
posted by tocts at 6:51 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


There is a very simple and obvious explanation for the "unlucky" angle: all those things would start to point to Adnan pretty fast if he was being set up.

Even the infamous Nisha Call. Why would Jay be calling Nisah if Adnan wasn't with him? Well, to tie Adnan to the location for one thing. If Nisha was pre-programmed in his phone, all anyone would have to do would be look through his phone book and hit "Send."

I have no idea how likely this is but it is a totally plausible explanation.

If Jay was trying to get Adnan's car to set him up, it would have been really easy to get it from him, and to make it so the suggestion came from Adnan.

Even then, today's episode cast serious doubt on whether Jay actually had the phone after school to begin with.
posted by dry white toast at 8:48 PM on December 18, 2014


I still think Adnan did it and Jay helped him. This serial killer thing SK introduced in the eleventh hour is probably a red herring but it'll be interesting if turns out to mean something significant. That said, I do think both Law and Order conducted themselves badly in this mess and justice was not served simply because they managed to put someone in prison for the crime.

Adnan brings up "whoever did it" (in those words) in the last episode. Starting at 49:12 he says:

I mean, I don't think you'll ever have a hundred percent or, you know what I'm saying, any type of certainty about it. The only person in the whole world who can have that is me. And, I mean, for what it's worth, whoever did it. You know, you'll never have that. I don't think you will.


When I was listening I heard it as Adnan realizing in the moment how wrong it could have sounded. I thought he quickly added the "whoever did it" to keep it from sounding like "The only person in the whole world who can have that is me, and I'm not ever going confess."
posted by fuse theorem at 8:54 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I still don't understand the fact that Adnan and Don didn't call Hae after she went missing. Wouldn't they both wear out their phones dialing her number looking for her? That fact still shocks me and I'm not happy with any of the explanations.
posted by mathowie at 9:08 PM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


When I was listening I heard it as Adnan realizing in the moment how wrong it could have sounded.

Yup. Revealing slip there. "The only person in the whole world who can have that is me"... then a pause, a hesitation -- oops! -- and then, "And, I mean, for what it's worth, whoever did it"
posted by shivohum at 9:37 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It could just be a bad choice of words, my gut reaction was that he confessed.
posted by humanfont at 10:21 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mm, I don't see it. To Adnan, the central question of the show isn't who did it. It's whether Adnan did it. And he's right; he does know whether he did it.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:30 PM on December 18, 2014 [19 favorites]


Reading the commentary here, I just keep thinking how crazy it is that we think we can accurately read people's guilt/deceit/innocence/honesty based on these interviews.

Remember in the very first episode when Koenig interviewed teenagers about what they'd done last week, and none could remember anything? I challenge anyone here to reconstruct who they called at what time two weeks ago - let alone 16 years ago. I challenge anyone to have an army of strangers analyze our speech patterns, word choices and verbal affect and accurately assess our honesty and the accuracy of any story we share.

I'm pretty sure research says we all absolutely suck at detecting the truth and when people are lying. We'd like to believe otherwise but that's not what the research says. Between the enormous distance in time between now and the murder, and our shitty ability to detect lying, I just think no one can meaningfully say now what really happened if they're basing that on the words we're hearing from people on the podcast.

What she ends up concluding with is whether this conviction was legally valid, and that matters a lot, to me. Because humans are shitty guessers about guilt and innocence, and we are all subject to subconscious biases, many of which are based on racial stereotypes, we need a robust reliance on consistently-applied rules in our legal system. If the rule says that a reasonable doubt should preclude conviction, I don't see how anyone could claim this case lacked reasonable doubt. The podcast left me clueless about who murdered Hae, but totally convinced that Adnan was unfairly convicted. And I guess that's what Koenig hoped I'd conclude, so I guess it worked on me!
posted by latkes at 10:35 PM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


1. I don't think Adnan did it. I don't know that he did or not, and I wouldn't have a feeling for that unless I knew him back then. When I think of myself back then, everyone had a feeling for what everyone else (in our age group) was 'about' and there were some sketchy people, but you (and everyone else) knew that, because you saw that in them. I think Adnan wasn't one of those sketchy kids.

2. I'd put money on it being the serial criminal/rapist/murderer SK brings out at the end. I've met my fair share of 'criminals' and there's always a slice who are kind of just pin balling through life and though they didn't slash your tires this time, there's absolutely nothing holding them back from doing something totally insane and fucked up in the future - it's who they are: bringers of chaos and misery.

3. Also, as a 17 year old I definitely lent my car and cell phone to people I shouldn't have. I went into apartments I should have stayed out of, went drinking/partying with people I should have never ever met. Adnan's 'bad luck' doesn't impress me at all. Jay's lying is a far greater indication of shenanigans. I never helped bury a body. Could the cops have coerced Jay? In light of the later proof they had done just that before, yeah - 100%

4. I want an update. I want to know that Adnan has been freed and the cops jailed. I want to know that all is right with the world, at least as far as the justice system is concerned. Because this is otherwise just so fucking sad.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:54 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The only person in the whole world who can have that is me. And, I mean, for what it's worth, whoever did it.

Isn't this basically an outright admission of guilt?
posted by Sara C. at 2:53 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]



I still don't understand the fact that Adnan and Don didn't call Hae after she went missing.


Did she have a cell phone? If she only had a landline, they wouldn't bother calling a number they knew she was not at.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:34 AM on December 19, 2014


She had a pager. Koenig talks in the early episodes about how the usual arrangement was that Adnan would call the pager number and then they'd talk on land lines. Given that she'd still have to pick up a phone and call, they may have figured that sending a page wouldn't actually do anything helpful, because it still boiled down to "if she wants to call, she'll call."

Isn't this basically an outright admission of guilt?

I read that the same way roll truck roll does. Plus if you want to take it completely literally Jay also knows, either way. (Unless the cops put him up to the whole thing, of course, but I personally don't buy that - his shifting narratives sound too much like there's a core of truth that he's trying to dress up.)

The only certainty about Adnan's guilt or innocence is that there's reasonable doubt either way. I'm really glad she got to that conclusion in the end.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:07 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Anybody else spend 12 episodes waiting for them to dig more into the weed? Maybe it's something you have to have been a high school stoner to understand, but to me, that explains a lot of the discrepancies and shadiness.

The process of getting high requires a lot of time, effort and weird behaviours when you're a kid. Endless calling around, hitting up all your friends to see who's holding. Aimless driving around waiting to hear back. Rendez-vous in sketch parts of town. Hanging at random apartments waiting for friends of friends. Paranoia when faced with the prospects of talking to your parents, or cops.

I think in the early beats of his arrest, Adnan could have been trying to cover up his lesser crimes. Good kid, didn't want to disappoint his parents with his minor truancy, less worried about Hae than getting his own story straight. That would have made him seem really guilty, people not used to criming suck at talking to cops. Once they smelled the guilty blood, they had no reason to really look elsewhere, so they built their case using Jay (who had his own drug crimes to cover up/plea deal out of).
posted by Freyja at 5:45 AM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yup. Revealing slip there. "The only person in the whole world who can have that is me"... then a pause, a hesitation -- oops! -- and then, "And, I mean, for what it's worth, whoever did it"

Isn't this basically an outright admission of guilt?

I am stunned by this. I will never, ever wonder how someone could be falsely convicted ever again.
posted by spaltavian at 5:56 AM on December 19, 2014 [41 favorites]


Given the report about the lead detective coercing witnesses in the past

To be more accurate, it is not a report but an accusation of wrongdoing.
posted by peeedro at 6:00 AM on December 19, 2014


I want to know that all is right with the world, at least as far as the justice system is concerned. Because this is otherwise just so fucking sad.

This is where Serial left me. Vox interviewed a legal evidence expert about where Adnan's case stands now, and he really doesn't have many options left. What seems more likely is that Adnan will spend the rest of his life in prison. And while I don't definitely feel that he's innocent, I don't think he should have been convicted.

What she ends up concluding with is whether this conviction was legally valid, and that matters a lot, to me. Because humans are shitty guessers about guilt and innocence, and we are all subject to subconscious biases, many of which are based on racial stereotypes, we need a robust reliance on consistently-applied rules in our legal system. If the rule says that a reasonable doubt should preclude conviction, I don't see how anyone could claim this case lacked reasonable doubt.

Koenig definitely showed that, at least in this case, jurors can't follow jury instructions -- no matter how good their intentions might be. And, Adnan actually had the funds to pay for someone who was a well-regarded defense attorney. What happens to people with an overloaded public defender?
posted by gladly at 6:02 AM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I was looking at Adnan's cell phone records yesterday on the Serial website and was fascinated by how many short calls there were. So many at right around a minute, I think the longest is around five minutes. Given that, the idea that he was calling around for weed makes a lot of sense.

And seriously, the ways people (in this thread, but not solely), are so intent on finding a definitive conclusion that they'll latch on to the smallest thing, like the pause in someone's speech, would be hilarious if it wasn't so problematic.

We don't know anything.
posted by dry white toast at 6:11 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


jurors can't follow jury instructions

Yeah, I was horrified - but not surprised - by the episode where two of the jurors she talks to just flat-out say that of course they judged him for not testifying. In the murder trial I was an alternate on, a witness - a police detective - "accidentally" let slip that the accused had gang ties. He had clearly been told that he was not to bring that up; the judge banged her gavel before the defense could object, and he just rolled his eyes. She ordered the jury to not consider it, and my fellow jurors said afterwards - I asked, because as an alternate I didn't get to go into deliberations that was the worst thing, seriously, it was terrible and they were all "That cop was a douche and no we didn't consider that because the judge said, and also, so what?"
posted by rtha at 6:38 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


And seriously, the ways people (in this thread, but not solely), are so intent on finding a definitive conclusion that they'll latch on to the smallest thing, like the pause in someone's speech, would be hilarious if it wasn't so problematic.

Indeed. I'm rather dismayed by people trying to mind-read and interpret tea leaves in order to come to a conclusion, one way or another. It's especially troubling considering that the question of Adnan's lack of emotion was actually brought up in one of the earlier episodes -- going from memory, it basically came down to, he said he felt a lot of anger, but also knew that expressing it was counter-productive. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but I haven't been in prison for 15 years, so I'm not going to judge someone else's coping mechanisms.

This isn't an episode of Columbo, people. It's easy to sit safely in your home reading about this and assure yourself that if it were you, and you were innocent, that you'd be doing things so much differently and therefore obviously that means Adnan is guilty. In the real world, though, people frequently don't act the way you theorize you yourself would, were you in their place.
posted by tocts at 6:51 AM on December 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


For an innocent person whose ex-girlfriend was brutally strangled by someone who was never found not to even bring up that killer who's still out there, a topic which goes beyond his own selfish interests, not to talk about it even if in a cold, detached, logical way... that speaks volumes.

Perhaps this is related to my first frame of reference for murder cases being the OJ Simpson trial, which occured when I was 10-11 years old, but--the concept of the wrongly accused searching for the "real killer" is tainted. Adnan isn't that much older than me. He would know how hollow that would sound, and the comparisons it would invite.
posted by almostmanda at 7:07 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm now convinced The Trial should be required reading in high school.
posted by spaltavian at 7:19 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm rather dismayed by people trying to mind-read and interpret tea leaves in order to come to a conclusion, one way or another.

While I agree with this, your other comments seem to imply that you think he's innocent, which makes me curious as to why you'd claim that you're dismayed by others coming to some sort of a conclusion. Haven't you come to a conclusion that he shouldn't have been convicted? You seem to just be upset that others have come to a different conclusion.

None of us can claim to be completely unaffected by the way people speak and react to others -- the best we can do is admit that we're affected by it, then try to move beyond it. Based on the very limited evidence that was presented to us in this podcast (much more information was posted in the subreddit and on Rabia's blog), I agree that he shouldn't have been convicted, though I do think that he was somehow involved. However, the one thing that gives me pause is his personality and his reactions to questions posed to him by SK. I find him to be very introspective and empathetic, and that makes me doubt his involvement. So I try to acknowledge that bias in myself, set it aside, and look at the timeline and the evidence that we have.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:30 AM on December 19, 2014


The opening of the episode, particularly the recent call with Adnan where he asks "don't you have an ending?" - it was like the Funny or Die parody came to life for a minute there. I LOL'd.

I want to be believe that SK watched that parody before she wrote that opening to the episode because it was just so perfect.

I'm really glad that SK got to talk to Don, I wish we could have heard things from his own mouth (thought it does sound like SK was quoting him). I think that the fact that he didn't call Hae either is really telling (as far as discrediting the Why Didn't Adnan Call Her? theory). I am also curious as to what the prosecution thought they were doing with him? I mean, they must have known what he would testify to before the first trial, and if he was so "useless" as a witness, why put him up on the second trial?

Finally, the "maybe she went to California thing?" Yeah, kids can be impulsive, but if she's expressed that impulse to two different boyfriends it doesn't sound so impulsive anymore, and it sounds like maybe there was something in her life in Baltimore that she actively wanted to get away from. I wish we could have learned more about that.

I'm looking forward to a few things now. I'd like to hear what happens with the evidence testing and Adnan's appeal -- I'm sure any news on that front is going to come through the MSM that seems to have picked up interest in the case.

I'm also really looking forward to Season 2. I hope it's not a true crime story like this one. I'd love an in-depth investigation into prison corruption like the Global Tel-link issues that radioamy highlighted.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:36 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


tocts, I'm guilty of that as well, though I tend to do it for people that are not Adnan. It's definitely a hard thing to avoid.

Jay's testimony has so many problems with it, there is so much that doesn't make sense, that isn't accounted for, and that otherwise just doesn't feel right. That's not taking into account his regularly shifting story, or what appears to be massive coaching on the part of the police interrogators. There may be truth in there, but the whole thing is so tainted that it's hard to accept any of it as valid. Much less to be the complete basis of the state's case. Yes, Jay's testimony at points, or eventually, matches up with the cell phone tower evidence, but:
1. Eventually
2. That evidence is shaky and not entirely reliable
3. The phone was in Jay's possession a lot of that time

Ultimately, Josh's testimony is also hard to accept. It might be true, but as I said before, he's corroborating stuff that was on the podcast, after hearing the podcast. As far as I know, he hasn't said anything that was new or hidden (yet verifiable). Again, if someone had tracked him down at the time and interviewed him, or if SK had interviewed him before Serial broke big, I might find it easier to believe.
posted by X-Himy at 7:36 AM on December 19, 2014


I hope it's not a true crime story like this one. I'd love an in-depth investigation into prison corruption like the Global Tel-link issues that radioamy highlighted.

My secret hope is that it's about Ag-gag laws, since it's a huge issue that is, by its nature, very difficult to report on, and would likely lead to the kind of slow snowballing of testimony that we saw from other folks who knew Adnan throughout the season.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:40 AM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I forget where, but they've definitely said that season 2 will not be another true crime investigation.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:43 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's hard not to becoming overwhelmingly frustrated that a jury could put someone away for life with so much flawed evidence, but another (grand) jury argues that there's insufficient cause to question the legality of choking Eric Garner to death, even on video. My line of thinking is how dystopias get their start, but why the hell do we leave such important decisions up to often clueless people who are at the mercy of manipulative rhetoric of lawyers and law enforcement. Of course, I don't have a better solution.

As for my own feelings about Adnan's guilt or innocence - I think, by the very nature of the NPR/APM/TAL model, I assumed this would be a story about someone lost and abused by an authoritarian system. And since I went into the podcast with those expectations, I would have needed a very strong case for the prosecution to get me to go against Adnan. So I'm really no better than any jury member when it comes to objective reasoning.
posted by bibliowench at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


You seem to just be upset that others have come to a different conclusion.

My frustration isn't that people came to a different conclusion (and you in fact misinterpret my own conclusion). My frustration is that people are trying to base a conclusion around how someone they don't know sounds in a phone conversation -- and even worse, a conversation in which the speaker is in a pretty shitty situation, in a public place surrounded by people he has to live with every day, and by his own admission is trying to remain measured, and calm.

It more or less becomes a Rorschach test. If you think Adnan is guilty, then his tone, his not bringing up Hae, etc, become obvious tells that he's lying. If you think Adnan is innocent, that same behavior is evidence of the toll taken on an innocent person living in prison for 15 years, and their need to not let anger or emotion get in the way of trying to right that wrong.

My point in all of this is not to say he's innocent. My point is, trying to dissect his conversation to find an answer is madness, regardless of what you think otherwise. It's best to put it aside, and focus on the things we actually know.

To be clear, I don't believe I can say whether he's innocent or not. However, I do believe that his trial was deeply flawed, and should not have resulted in a conviction.
posted by tocts at 8:13 AM on December 19, 2014 [17 favorites]


You guys have to read the excellent analysis at The View from LL2 blog. It's really great.
- Analysis of Jay's transcripts which is amazing
- The Nisha call and whether this points to the time of the crime
- more under the Serial tag
posted by amanda at 8:20 AM on December 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


And seriously, the ways people (in this thread, but not solely), are so intent on finding a definitive conclusion that they'll latch on to the smallest thing, like the pause in someone's speech, would be hilarious if it wasn't so problematic.

We don't know anything.


Yes but we all have opinions based on how we each have interpreted what was presented in the series. Unless you were personally or professionally involved in this case, I'm not sure why your opinion would be any more "correct" than anyone else's.

Adnan's guilt or innocence is whatever it is despite what any of us think. His future won't be decided in this thread or in the larger court of public opinion.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:39 AM on December 19, 2014


Thanks for those links, amanda!
posted by minsies at 8:55 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


While I agree with this, your other comments seem to imply that you think he's innocent, which makes me curious as to why you'd claim that you're dismayed by others coming to some sort of a conclusion.

Actually I think the most likely scenario is that Jay and Adnan were both directly involved in the murder and Jay turned on Adnan before Adnan could point the finger at him. I picked an example involving a moment people were using to point to a demonstration of his guilt but there are points the other way too. I'm just saying there is no actual proof that Adnan did it beyond Jay's testimony, and using a pause in a conversation is rather mind-boggling.

What my comments actually reflect is that I think Jay is full of shit.
posted by dry white toast at 9:14 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's been quite a lot of discussion on MeFi and other blogs about how listeners interpret Serial in terms of our own experience with crime media. Almost all of this discussion has been about narrative form and structure--do we expect certain information revealed in a certain way, do we expect certain questions to be answered, do we expect a question-suspense-reveal pattern, and how is the "detective" portrayed in all this.

There's been some "structural" discussion, too, about how Sarah Koenig is framing characters/interviewees--particularly Adnan--and what that says about her opinions of them and what the show might reveal about these people. And of course, listeners' reactions to this show has to do so much with our own judgements about who is trustworthy, based on what we hear.

But I haven't really seen discussion on a certain aspect of interpreting this show--which is how we interpret "characters" on this show in light of "characters on crime shows". That's where most of our "experience" is. I don't know how many of us have been on a jury--I never have. Probably very few of us know murderers, thank goodness. But when we watch crime shows, we see a product where writers have to make things believable within certain fictional parameters.

So it's not just that we have to buy that a character could commit a crime, and leave evidence of that crime--we have to say "oh wow! The sweet little old lady did it! Well, I might not have expected that, but I'm not rolling my eyes and saying 'come on!'" And we see this all depicted by actors who have to give performances of "a guilty person". These actors, in concert with directors, spend a lot of time creating external physical signs--body language, pauses, expressions, inflection--that we can read (if only in hindsight) as "guilty". Not too obviously guilty--those are the actors playing red herring characters--but a well-hidden kind of guilty. This is the only thing that we can look at for fictional characters--we can't get "more information" than the director gives us, we don't have personal knowledge of these characters outside their own story. So we have to go entirely by the exterior, and I think a lot of us are looking for signs we expect from fiction--whether or not those signs have anything to do with reality.
posted by Hypatia at 9:18 AM on December 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


While the podcast is inconclusive, I don't see how anyone can read the LL2 blog and come away relying upon Jay's testimony.

I seriously doubt the police led him to the car and I think that's a tangent that harms the validity of any argument that follows. Jay was obviously involved. However, they clearly coached away major inconsistencies in his story that point to his greater involvement.

Detective: Did [Adnan] name any locations [where he could bury Hae’s body]?
Jay: None at all.
Detective: Um, he didn’t say, you know what about here you know, he didn’t name up a half dozen locations and you gave him thumbs up or thumbs down?
Jay: Um, I just nah he ah, said something to me ah, to the effect of the State Park, where we were, a little bit up the river, but I told him people walk up and down there. That was the only thing that. (Int.2 at 18-19.)


And again:

Detective: What do you do then?
Jay: Um, hum, we drive to Westview on, I told him take me home. And on the way going home we pass by Westview and he says I better get rid of this stuff.
Detective: You got two cars?
Jay: Oh I’m sorry, I apologize. Um, I’m missing.
Detective: Okay.
Jay: Top spots. Um, yes I’m sorry. We leave, we we still do have two cars. (Int.2 at 35.)


This is ignoring the inconsistencies about details like: when Adnan told him he planned to kill Hae, what they did after seeing the body, when and where they got rid of the evidence, etc. He tells 6 different stories about where Adnan showed him Hae's body! The prosector and even Sarah framed this as Jay being consistent on the big, important points but LL2 points out that when people are lying, the story fails in the details. It's easy to say "Adnan did it, I wasn't involved" but hard to stay consistent on dozens made-up details like: where'd you see the dead body? Did you help dig? That's where a lie falls apart.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:21 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I actually think this article is an even more damning analysis of Jay's testimony (from the same blog). Which, again, says nothing about whether Adnan did it, but does pretty thoroughly eviscerate Jay as a credible witness.

Scroll down to where it starts listing important questions he was asked, and the different answers he gave. It is mind-boggling how many different accounts he seems to have of each event.
posted by tocts at 9:40 AM on December 19, 2014


The way Serial reported on Jay really undermined the whole thing for me. It's a good story, and I liked the ending well enough. But as a serious bit of investigative journalism it's deeply flawed.

Jay is clearly involved somehow. Jay pled guilty to accessory and is the only important witness to convict Adnan. Jay is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the murder investigation. Sure he lied sometimes and is inconsistent in others, but he's the one person we are certain is involved.

But Koenig dances around Jay. IIRC she doesn't even really talk about him until Episode 4. Then we have the fiasco later (episode 8?) where she does try to talk to Jay. Who of course doesn't want to talk. I mean he pled guilty of accessory to murder and managed to get out with basically no punishment. Why would he possibly want to talk to some random woman reinvestigating the story? He's put it behind him.

My assumption is Koenig was advised she'd be in legal jeopardy if she went too far in investigating Jay. So she went right up to the line without actually accusing him of perjury and made only one pro forma attempt to talk to him. But she didn't investigate him further, talk about his life at that time, his activities, his friends, his community. That bit about how his lawyer was appointed by the cops should have had a whole episode about it!

Koenig failed to investigate the man who literally admitted to burying the dead girl with his own hands. It's not good journalism.
posted by Nelson at 10:46 AM on December 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


I was also frustrated that she didn't point out more holes in Jay's story, but if Serial was already problematic for raising this armchair speculation 15 years later, how much more problematic would it have been for specifically trying to accuse Jay of murder? A real person who's full name is easy to discover? I tend to think he did it, but the idea of straight-up vigilante podcasting makes me very uncomfortable.

That's potentially a clusterfuck. I don't blame her to focusing on whether there was reasonable doubt in Adnan's case.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:27 AM on December 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


jurors can't follow jury instructions

Quoted for truth. Our system has lots of problems, but one of them is the refusal of jurors to treat "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" as the high standard it's supposed to be. I've been in conversations with ex-DA's who have said, unprompted, things along the lines of "We wouldn't win half of our cases if jurors actually understood reasonable doubt."

This pisses me off beyond all measures. Both at jurors, and at DA's. The jurors for not taking their role seriously enough. DA's for bringing cases that they, in their heart of hearts, think that they may win but really shouldn't.

My theory on this is that many jurors, many DAs, many people who listen to Serial, and just many people in general are spoiled on narrative.

We have spent so much of our lives seeing "Mysteries" and "Crime Dramas" and "Police Procedural" where the supposed question is who committed the crime, but because of the narrative impulse is really which of these characters committed the crime.

In other words we are too used to being presented a cast of characters and knowing that one of them did it. That lazy habit of explains, to me, many of the questions people had. The jurors and witnesses asked "If not Adnan who did it?" And they concluded it didn't look like Jay did it, so it must, by processes of elimination, be Adnan.

This, of course, is shitty logic. But logic that has been rewarded to us thousands of times by Law and Order. I can't help but feel this has leaked into the justice system to the harm of us all.

It might be narratively unsatisfying, but I think it would do our culture some good to have some dramas where characters go through the investigation and trial, someone is found guilty and then we have the omniscient flashback where we see a character that has never been introduced is the real murder. The audience might cry foul, but that's more like life.

Many people are happy to latch on to the Serial Killer that was just introduced. I'm glad the Killer exists too, just to allow an excuse to test the DNA. But it's a shame we need the Killer first to allow our imaginations to suggest the guilt lies with a new character. And that's our lazy narrative seeking mind's fault.
posted by bswinburn at 11:51 AM on December 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


I finally figured out why I find the theme music so compelling: It reminds me of my favorite Arcade Fire song, "We Used to Wait," but slowed down to half-speed.
posted by jbickers at 1:09 PM on December 19, 2014


the ways people (in this thread, but not solely), are so intent on finding a definitive conclusion that they'll latch on to the smallest thing, like the pause in someone's speech, would be hilarious if it wasn't so problematic.

Well, no. The idea that this is "only" the pause in someone's speech is a lot more problematic, really.

We know Adnan was Hae's recently-ex boyfriend. We know that there was speculation among Adnan and Hae's social circle about what kind of boyfriend Adnan was, exactly how amicable their breakup really was, and exactly how torn up Adnan was about it. We know Hae dumped Adnan, and that she did it both in connection with a recent humiliating incident involving Adnan's family and also that she left Adnan for another more socially prestigious guy (older, good job, cool car, etc).

We know Adnan lent his car and cell phone to someone who later told what sounds like half of Baltimore that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. Adnan and Jay were seen together that day. Jay knew where Hae's car was ditched.

We know Adnan asked Hae for a ride the afternoon she went missing, , which is something Jay (independently?) told the police was part of Adnan's premeditated plan to murder her.

We know Adnan never made any attempt to contact Hae after she went missing.

We know Adnan claims to remember nothing about the day one of his closest friends went missing, even though he was questioned by the police that day, which you'd think would be pretty memorable for a seventeen year old magnet school kid from the suburbs. (Shit, a high school friend of mine was once questioned by the police in regards to a counterfeit bill that was passed in a restaurant where she waited tables, and fifteen years later I remember this happening to her even though I was uninvolved.)

All of this is really, really incriminating for Adnan. It is like way super definitely enough to arrest Adnan and consider him the prime suspect in the case. I'm not sure it's enough to convict him, but acting like Adnan is just this innocent bystander who once paused weirdly in an interview and suddenly everyone decides he's a murderer is kind of a disingenuous framing of the facts.
posted by Sara C. at 2:01 PM on December 19, 2014


So it's not just that we have to buy that a character could commit a crime, and leave evidence of that crime--we have to say "oh wow! The sweet little old lady did it! Well, I might not have expected that, but I'm not rolling my eyes and saying 'come on!'" And we see this all depicted by actors who have to give performances of "a guilty person". These actors, in concert with directors, spend a lot of time creating external physical signs...

There's also the fact that, in most crime narratives, this all has to feel earned. Which means that not only is motive incredibly important to your Laws And Orders and your NYPDs Blue, but it inclines us to think that an extreme crime needs an extreme motive. It's never "I'm stupid and jealous and things got out of hand," it's always "He was secretly the father of my baby and threatened to tell everyone and he had to die," or something else far more exceptional than the motives of most real life crimes.

And so, when we look at real life crimes -- especially as presented in this heavily narrativized way -- we have a similarly raised bar on exactly how guilty the suspect needs to be. We expect what, when I used to work on a Law And Order series, we called "The Aria": that moment of revelation where this exceptional crime is matched up with an equally exceptional explanation. And, yes, we expect the person admitting to all of this to be clearly evil, a monster, deserving of the worst kinds of punishment.

The way we tell stories about murder in our culture, there really isn't room for a seemingly OK person to go down a bad path and do the worst thing for murky reasons that seem ridiculous when held up to the light.
posted by Sara C. at 2:24 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


acting like Adnan is just this innocent bystander who once paused weirdly in an interview and suddenly everyone decides he's a murderer is kind of a disingenuous framing of the facts

Simultaneously, acting like you yourself did not specifically point to a weird pause in an interview and ask if it wasn't him admitting guilt is kind of a disingenuous framing of this discussion.

You talk a lot about things we "know", but in reality, after 12 episodes and thousands of hours of internet detectin', we (collectively) know very little. You point to the fact that Adnan didn't call Hae after her disappearance, but guess what -- neither did her then-boyfriend, Don. You point to the fact that Adnan can't remember much about the day his friend went missing -- yeah, the day where he's on record as having been high as a kite when he actually found out she was missing. You point to the fact that Adnan asked for a ride -- we know he didn't have his car, and Hae had certainly given him a lift previously, so what's ultimately so damning about that?

Etc, etc.

Again, none of this is to say he's innocent. But, there's an awful lot of people who seem to think he's absolutely guilty based on ... what?

In the end, the only thing that's solid, the only thing we can really put our hands around, is that Jay knew where Hae's car was, and that Jay had a lot to say that put him as being involved in the murder. That certainly looks bad for Jay, but I'm pretty dumbfounded as to how that leads to an arrest (let alone a conviction) of anyone else.
posted by tocts at 2:52 PM on December 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


acting like you yourself did not specifically point to a weird pause in an interview and ask if it wasn't him admitting guilt is kind of a disingenuous framing of this discussion.

He actually said "I'm the only person who could know the truth", which was the incriminating part to me. People who aren't guilty of a crime like this typically don't own up to it and then need to step back from a statement like that. It's OJ level WTF behavior.

Similarly, throughout the podcast, Adnan says things that sound really weird and don't add up at all. Most tellingly, he tries to have it both ways in the memory department, conveniently remembering NOTHING about what would have felt like the most momentous day in his life up to that point (cop calls you asking about your close friend who you just found out is missing), but then also conveniently remembering just enough to clarify that any detail that looks bad for him couldn't possibly be true. You can't both remember nothing and also remember everything. You can't claim not to have known that Hae was missing that day, and also be able to clarify a specific conversation you had with your friend Aisha about the fact that the cops were probably about to call you in connection with the fact that she was missing.

It's frankly embarrassing that the state decided to rest their entire case on racism and not the cold facts that Adnan looks really really guilty any way you slice it.
posted by Sara C. at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2014


the only thing we can really put our hands around, is that Jay knew where Hae's car was

People keep saying this, despite the fact that it's blatantly untrue. We know a lot of concrete facts about the case beyond that Jay knew where the car was. This was one of the weirder rhetorical flourishes in the last episode of Serial, and it's so odd that people seem to be accepting it as gospel.
posted by Sara C. at 3:08 PM on December 19, 2014


Another weird verbal tell from Adnan from the interviews (this is in the episode with all the route tracing and the "Shrimp Sale At The Crab Crib"):

So, the Best Buy pay phone.

Jay says the pay phone was outside in front of the store. It turns out he was mistaken.

Some other kid who went to school with them said there was no pay phone at all. She may have been mistaken, either way, her testimony is kind of neither here nor there, since I dunno, who'd remember whether a particular big box store in their town had a pay phone?

People at Best Buy are inconclusive about whether there would have been a pay phone at the time.

Adnan, in talking about the theoretical timeline of the murder and how he couldn't possibly have done it just based on the logistics of it all, mentions having to schlep over to the pay phone in the lobby/entryway of Best Buy.

Blueprints reveal that there was a pay phone in the lobby/entryway of Best Buy.
posted by Sara C. at 3:44 PM on December 19, 2014


she left Adnan for another more socially prestigious guy (older, good job

baby, have you ever had a lens crafted? well I am the guy who literally crafts those lenses
posted by Greg Nog at 4:03 PM on December 19, 2014 [25 favorites]


I don't want him to be guilty, but I think he probably did it. I think he wants to be innocent and he wants to make his new friends happy. So his words are measured in such a way as to omit the truth. His denials of guilt seem to be constructed in such a way that there is wiggle room and they can never be seen as outright lies.

This reminds me of the crazy bean plating on Usenet during the OJ trial. Mark Furhman was a racist who probably planted evidence. The timeline for murderng and then catching a flight to Chicago was tight. The glove didn't fit, or at least looked that way. OJ was a likeable guy. People wanted him to be innocent.
posted by humanfont at 4:38 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


It reminds me of the OJ trial too: it seems to me like Baltimore PD framed a guilty person with evidence that was not only bad but which they knew was bad. But if that's what happened then, as SK argued, it's an acquittal; that's what "reasonable doubt" has to mean if it's going to mean anything. I think Adnan is almost certainly the killer, but I don't think he should have been found guilty, and I think he deserves at the very least a new trial today.
posted by gerryblog at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Greg Nog: great example there of the Wests. How creepy is that? They look so alike from the front, too: it's only a side profile that you see the difference.

I was thinking of the Black Swan theory, myself. Super unlikely stuff sometimes just freaking happens.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:46 PM on December 19, 2014


"AND THE MAN'S MIDDLE NAME WAS ALSO LEE!"

Lee is probably the most common, generic, first/middle/last name of all time.

Oh, and speaking of names and coincidences, try this guy trying to find a girl with the same name and nationality as his ex for plane tickets.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:53 PM on December 19, 2014


3. The phone was in Jay's possession a lot of that time

So I listened to all of Serial this week and and just catching up on commentary here (yay for podcasts on fanfare!).

And I have a question about this. What basis (besides Jay's word) do we have for the idea that he actually did have Adnan's phone all afternoon? If you look at the calls, outlined in the LL2 post that's been linked here, it really looks more likely that Adnan just had his phone with him the whole time and was using it to contact Jay at Jenn's or whatever.

Much as I wanted to believe in Adnan throughout the podcast, I absolutely think he was guilty. I also think Jay witnessed/participated in a lot more than just the burial (it is OBVIOUS that Jay's story of the whole afternoon was fabricated as he changed it whenever expedient).

The one thing the LL2 analysis makes clear is that the phone was likely in the vicinity of the school and the Best Buy throughout the time of the murder. LL2 considers this damning for Jay because they are assuming he had the phone. But isn't it far more likely that the phone stayed mainly in Adnan's possession, that Jay was with him during or at least immediately after the murder, and that after that they were together for the afternoon, both of them using the phone to call friends (and to procure pot)?

The phone appears to follow the timeline and locations of the murder and burial, plus some smoking in between. It doesn't fit Jay's narrative, and it doesn't fit Adnan's either. They both have something to hide so neither can easily contradict the other. But Jay got to the cops, so his story ended up being (more or less) accepted. But why did SK accept it so readily--the part about the phone I mean?
posted by torticat at 3:51 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Innocence Project Tells Serial Fans What Might Happen Next
[Q] In the last episode producer Dana Chivvis argued, “If [Adnan] didn’t do it, then my God that guy is ridiculously unlucky.” What did you think of that given your experience with the Innocence Project?

[A] I think one thing is, a lot of normal things are made to look like bad luck when they are making you into a suspect. This is what happens when you decide to build a case against someone. You look and say, “All these phone calls are so suspicious.” But that’s only if you buy into Jay’s timeline of when it happened and when she went missing because it’s entirely possible that Hae was alive for another week. Something bad happened, but those phone calls may be nothing, right?

Wrongful conviction cases are terrifying because it’s often just people going about their life and then all of the sudden they are a suspect. One by one the things start happening: Someone misidentifies you, you get a bad lawyer by chance, the lawyer doesn’t believe you. People say, “Oh he had such bad luck.” The other way to look at it is often it’s a lot of people in the system using bad practices, not crossing Ts and dotting Is.

So the world is a terrifying place. I think all the time about how you can become that person.
posted by rtha at 7:32 AM on December 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


So the world is a terrifying place. I think all the time about how you can become that person.

I keep thinking about whether a day would stand out to me if I'd been told that an ex of mine was missing, and I don't know that I would have any idea what I'd done on that day; thinking back to all the worst / scariest / most traumatic days of my life, I couldn't really tell you what else I'd done on any of them.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:50 AM on December 20, 2014 [14 favorites]


Serial Sucked and Wasted Everyone's Time:
The first three episodes were great. The next three were decent. And then there's a shift. To me, it felt like Koenig ran out of reporting.
That's pretty much how I felt. This was a J.J. Abrams kind of "show" -- starts off huge and awesome, then spirals into a navel-gazing near-parody of itself as it tries and fails to continue that momentum.
posted by Etrigan at 8:20 AM on December 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


mentions having to schlep over to the pay phone in the lobby/entryway of Best Buy.

Sara C., wasn't he just going off of the story that Jay/the prosecution told? I mean he could have just not known either way whether there was a payphone there, but had no reason to question that it existed?

Or are you saying he specifically mentioned the foyer while up to that point (prior to SK's research) everyone had been talking about an outdoor phone booth?
posted by torticat at 10:58 AM on December 20, 2014


The thing about putting yourself in Adnan's shoes re your ex going missing, keep in mind that Adnan was questioned by police about Hae on the same day, hours after the time he's accounting for.

If someone called me right now and told me my ex was missing as of today, and do I know anything, I would immediately start retracing my steps, thinking about the last time I had contact with him, etc. And because in fact I did have a clearly documented text conversation with my most recent ex yesterday, and we have plans to see each other this weekend, and there's an email chain documenting ongoing contact between us, I would then start thinking very clearly about the last 24 hours of my life so as to lay out the obvious case that I had nothing to do with his disappearance.

The fact that Adnan couldn't do this even on the actual day in question is really, really bad. Now, it could just be unlucky circumstance: the one day you really need to be able to reconstruct happens to be the day you took a shitload of drugs, or caught a sudden case of amnesia, and you remember nothing. Or it could be fishy as all get-out that you suddenly don't remember where you were, who you were with, what you did after school that very day just a few hours ago, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


From the interview that rtha linked above:
You had also mentioned that Syed had not known about the physical evidence until Sarah Koenig told him about it. What was his reaction to hearing about that?

It took him a long time to really sort of wrap his head around that there was physical evidence and that there was lots of it and that he didn’t know about it. I was not there: Sarah told him about the physical evidence. Then I let him have some time to sort of dwell on that because I knew that in the same time that I saw him, I was also going to have to have him [agree to be tested] and so I didn’t want to say, “You have 45 minutes to decide.”

But Sarah told me he was very emotional about hearing it just because he didn’t know. He thought he understood that she was murdered, and that was bad enough. The specter that it might be something entirely different and more was stunning. And then of course he had to deal with the fact that once again this person who he trusted to defend him never even mentioned it.
That explains for me why Adnan was so emotional during the last episode talking about the DNA testing. I didn't realize that he had only just found out about it.
posted by gladly at 11:18 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


torticat - yes, I'm referring to the fact that the only person who mentioned exactly where the Best Buy phone actually was is the person who probably made the call from said phone.

More and more, I'm thinking that the reason Adnan's defense sucked so bad is that they didn't have a case at all. I'm especially thinking that the reason Adnan was not called to testify is that his attorney, as gone as she was, knew he'd say something stupid to immediately incriminate himself, as he has on numerous occasions in this podcast meant to exonerate him.
posted by Sara C. at 11:19 AM on December 20, 2014


If the DNA evidence does not match to the serial killer, will be interesting to know, at least, if there is DNA evidence of a man or a woman. I feel like Jenn could be considered a suspect given the wandering statements from both Jay and Jenn. I wonder what else can be determined from the DNA evidence without pinning to a specific person.
posted by amanda at 12:30 PM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to me that Adnan's parents hired a lawyer known for arguing cases built on physical evidence and DNA, and yet nothing like that was actually used in the case and in fact there were never even any tests done.
posted by Sara C. at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2014


Is it at all possible that Adnan admitted his guilt to Gutierrez? It would explain some of her weirdness, like not pursuing Asia's alibi and not pushing for an evaluation of physical evidence, and some of Adnan's weirdness, like wanting to plea and also not being upset with Gutierrez all these years later.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:48 PM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


It doesn't surprise me that he thinks well of her. I feel like there are so few people on your side in this situation (whether you are guilty, an accessory, or innocent) that to have someone show up and be on your side, day by day, you must get attached to them. You have to have faith that they can do the job that they are hired to do and that they know best. People in her office said she was very despondent over the outcome, more so than other trials. I think she felt he was innocent but I think she was in over her head, managing her illness and her caseload.
posted by amanda at 12:57 PM on December 20, 2014


Just finished the Time article on the Innocence Project and I thought that Koenig reported that no semen had been found on Hae's body. Was she wrong about that? Or did she draw a conclusion from the lack of testing? Anybody remember that?
posted by amanda at 12:59 PM on December 20, 2014


The article doesn't say there was semen, just that there's DNA evidence that wasn't tested. Enright says "If there was semen..." which to me sounds like "We know there's DNA evidence, but we don't know the nature of it."
posted by rtha at 1:15 PM on December 20, 2014


From the Time interview with Enright, quoting her: When Sarah spoke to Jay on the show, one of the comments she reported him saying was, “Well if it’s not Adnan, who was it?” And I thought, “Who says that?” It was such a bizarre comment.

You know, that is a really weird thing to say if the whole premise for Adnan's conviction is that you witnessed essentially all of his activities except the murder itself, and you helped bury the body.
posted by dry white toast at 2:02 PM on December 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


Of all the strange things Jay says, that is the least strange to me. Think about it. If his story is true, then he helped a murderer bury a body. He knows Adnan did it. He was there and he participated. Now, 15 years later, somebody is digging into the case again, because... why? Again, if his story is true, then it's senseless and dangerous for SK to be doing this. She pushes him on some details and his response reads to me like "look, lady, if he didn't do it, then who did?" Meaning: obviously nobody else did it. I already told you who did.

Jay telling five different stories about where the crime happened? A problem. Asking a rhetorical "well then who did it?" to the pesky NPR lady? Not that unusual.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


If the internet really wants to spin off into the weeds now that the podcast is over, figuring out who Enright suggests are suspects that they can't name would do it.
posted by dry white toast at 2:11 PM on December 20, 2014


the only person who mentioned exactly where the Best Buy phone actually was is the person who probably made the call from said phone.

Yeah... well, that is interesting, I'm not sure the pay phone needed to play into it one way or the other, but that's still interesting.

The cell phone stayed in the area of the school and Best Buy from the morning until 4pm, except for one excursion into the city (between 12pm and 1) and back. I'm guessing Jay took the car and phone to buy weed (a high priority apparently was to stay baked all day, which is understandable I guess), came back and they carried out the murder together and were pretty much together after that.

I mean I'm speculating obviously; but the path of the cell phone seems pretty straightforward. The phone was back in the school vicinity by the time Hae was likely murdered--not down at Jenn's house or whatever. All the stuff about Jay visiting Jenn, there's not any evidence of that at all except for their word, right? And they were switching stories all over the place. Also I think it's kinda ridiculous how Jay supposedly has all these detailed memories about minor phone calls coming and going, when he was stoned too.

I think the prosecution just settled for getting one of the murderers since they no choice but to use Jay to get either. Jay didn't carry out the murder on his own (motive? plus a fair amount of other stuff implicating Adnan)--but there's no way the cops/prosecutors actually believed Jay's stories and supposed alibi(s).
posted by torticat at 2:12 PM on December 20, 2014


He actually said "I'm the only person who could know the truth", which was the incriminating part to me. People who aren't guilty of a crime like this typically don't own up to it and then need to step back from a statement like that. It's OJ level WTF behavior.

I'm sorry, but you're stretching very hard here, and projecting your already established assumption of guilt onto Adnan's statements to try to find a "gotcha" moment (which is a thing that rarely exists outside of fiction). Because you think he's guilty, any little thing he says that isn't what you'd say or what you'd do is suddenly proof that of course he's guilty.

As a rule, human beings aren't great at discerning guilt or innocence just based on someone's tone of voice or speech patterns. If you want to believe Adnan's guilty, that's fine, but at least base it on verifiable evidence, instead of what might as well be phrenology from a distance.

People keep saying this, despite the fact that it's blatantly untrue. We know a lot of concrete facts about the case beyond that Jay knew where the car was. This was one of the weirder rhetorical flourishes in the last episode of Serial, and it's so odd that people seem to be accepting it as gospel.

Please list the concrete facts we know that show Adnan was involved in the murder that don't rely on Jay's incredibly questionable testimony to give them meaning.
posted by tocts at 2:16 PM on December 20, 2014 [14 favorites]


Of all the strange things Jay says, that is the least strange to me.

The problem is, you could read it so many different ways. First, "Really? You think someone else killed Hae? Please enlighten me, you idiot." Second, "I know who killed Hae (not Adnan) but I'm pretty sure you don't." Third, "I actually don't know who killed Hae but I'm pretty sure it was Adnan which is why I went along with the cops to help their case and possibly save my bacon."

More tea leaves.
posted by amanda at 2:54 PM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing that struck me most about Enright's involvement is that she is involved. That she thinks Adnan got a shit trial, and that he's behaving like someone who didn't do it.
There's some element of this that is reminiscent of Twin Peaks to me. Popular girl Laura/Hae killed by... Killed by... But that's exactly it, killed by who, or what? Why?
It's a dangerous, fucked up world.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:56 PM on December 20, 2014


I doubt this is the work of BOB; the gum I like still hasn't come back in style.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:58 PM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


projecting your already established assumption of guilt onto Adnan's statements

Adnan is sitting in prison right now after being convicted in the case. It's not exactly out of left field to presume he probably did it. It's not like we're talking about some dude who is entirely unconnected with the matter at hand. And he incriminates himself over and over: I was talking to some friends and together we came up with 4-5 different times in different episodes that he said very incriminating things. I'm not seizing on one little pause, I'm seizing on the fact that, over and over, if you actually listen to Adnan's interviews, time and again he says things that are potentially incriminating.
posted by Sara C. at 6:00 PM on December 20, 2014


The thing that struck me most about Enright's involvement is that she is involved.

The thing that has struck me the most about Enright's involvement is twofold:

1. She seems to have no interest in Adnan himself and how he "seems". In fact she specifically says that, in a case like this, she prefers the accused person to have little to no involvement in the case.

2. Her interest in this case seems almost entirely to be limited to specific fact-based forensic evidence that was not used in the original trial, or, in the case of something like cell records, has multiple avenues of interpretation.

It's pretty clear that the Innocence Project's MO in this case is to deal with the facts, not to get bogged down in whether Adnan is a nice kid who would never have killed anybody.
posted by Sara C. at 6:04 PM on December 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's pretty clear that the Innocence Project's MO in this case is to deal with the facts, not to get bogged down in whether Adnan is a nice kid who would never have killed anybody.

Yeah I just wanted to favorite the shit out of that.

Adnan is guilty. Adnan is innocent. Doesn't really matter anymore. What's important, beyond the fact that Serial was executed both adroitly and maladroirtly, is that Adnan was perhaps convicted improperly due to a myriad of factors.

“For the law holds, that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.”


So that's attributed to this guy, Sir William Blackstone, and, so the internet tells me, that's been a part of our concept of justice since 1783. And it's important not to lose sight of it. And I think we have. I think procedural television shows and necrotainment have poisoned our view of what we, as Americans and plain old citizens of the world, want and need justice to look like. Justice is not that a heinous crime demands that someone/anyone be punished heinously. Our system of justice seems to be floating backward in it's current incarnation. Everything, everyday, in regard to justice, gathers less and less nuance. Everything is presented as black and white.

So I sit here desperately trying to reconcile the two thoughts Serial has brought up in my head. Adnan probably did it. And he should probably be freed. Or at least get a new trial. He gets my vote to be one of the 10.

Tea leaves nor the internet seem to have an answer for me.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 7:02 PM on December 20, 2014 [9 favorites]


The failure of investigators to look at all the physical evidence is outrageous. The fact that they found hairs on the victim that didn't match Adnan and then stopped looking suggests they were more concerned with winning at trial than finding the truth. It reinforces the points made by Enrigh in the Time article.
posted by humanfont at 7:45 PM on December 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm especially thinking that the reason Adnan was not called to testify is that his attorney, as gone as she was, knew he'd say something stupid to immediately incriminate himself,

No, seriously, competent defense attorneys do not put their clients on the stand. This is covered in the show and it's true. My mom was a part-time public defender for years and I remember as a kid, whenever we watched a show or movie where a defendent took the stand, she would always point out how that never happened in real life. It's just too easy for a good prosecutor to poke holes in their testimony, trip them up, make them look like they're lying.

I really have no opinion on Adnan's guilt or innocence (I went back and forth over the past few months and now I've given up) but the fact that he did not testify tells you absolutely nothing.
posted by lunasol at 9:35 PM on December 20, 2014 [17 favorites]


It's just too easy for a good prosecutor to poke holes in their testimony, trip them up, make them look like they're lying.

Interesting. Can you elaborate here? Is this just because people are generally imprecise when they speak?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:55 PM on December 20, 2014


Honestly, I go the exact opposite way with the police call. Your ex girlfriend is out late and the cops are already checking up on her? You saw her hours ago, so my first thought is "shit her parents are going to be pissed when they find out she was just out screwing her 20-something boyfriend". And then start to freak out that they'll follow up in person and find the weed.

Don's response is way sketchier. He both assumes she's dead* and assumes she's run off to California, despite seeing her less than 24 hours ago. And despite the fact that he had concrete plans to see her, he doesn't page or call her parents to check up on her.

*c'mon. He wasn't supposed to work that day. He just randomly needs to sub in for someone at a different store where his *MOM* was in charge of his alibi. And he makes sure he remembers everything because he knows it's always the boyfriend, despite the fact that all he knows is that she didn't get home by curfew. I think it's easy to forget that there was no indication of foul play at this point. The last person to see her alive said she was picking up her cousin and then going to see Don. And that letter in her car sounds a lot like one you'd leave for him to wake up to, not one that you'd drop off at the exact same time you saw him again. He could have dropped it while ditching the car. And who knows. Maybe he has a weed habit and also has a relationship with Jay.
posted by politikitty at 4:57 AM on December 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


Interesting. Can you elaborate here? Is this just because people are generally imprecise when they speak?

A few reasons, some of which can be easily seen in the responses to Adnan's out-of-court statements. People will expect a person wrongfully accused of a crime to behave in a certain way, and then penalize a defendant who doesn't act that way -- and if members of the jury have contradictory expectations for how an innocent person should act, it becomes a no-win situation. Otherwise innocuous statements will be seen in an automatically negative light, even absent evidence related to them, because people tend to assume that somebody who was arrested for a crime is at least probably guilty. And just because you're factually innocent doesn't mean your statements won't appear incriminating - the same principle addressed in the Don't Talk To Police speech.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:50 AM on December 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


And that's not even mentioning the potential for the defendant to get stressed and/or angry and misspeak when faced with hostile cross-examination.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:55 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


The hardest thing for me to believe is that all the lying, obfuscation, etc., around two totally innocent and uninvolved people is just accidental (as would be the case if it was Don or a serial killer). The biggest information gap, it seems to me, is Jay's account (or lack thereof). I don't know what happened but I think both he and Adnan have a clearer idea of it than anyone else does, and I agree with theories that say the police got him to put together a story in order to get a prosecution on Adnan. And of course he doesn't want to talk on tape now. Maybe he can't; that phrase recurred in Josh's recounting that Jay "couldn't talk about it" after going to the police. Anyway, I don't think either of them want to rock this present boat. Adnan wants to get off based on the bad conviction, while Jay never had to serve time and doesn't want to open up any possibility of punishment now. They've got some kind of tacit agreement to keep the status quo and work their different approaches to it. That's my take, anyway.
posted by Miko at 6:26 AM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I sort of liked it. I think a bunch of the episodes could have been shorter -- the 30 minute ones were better than the 60 minute ones -- and I see problems, but it's also an early podcast of this type, and I bet next season will learn from this one.

I really hope that if something happens with the DNA evidence, she puts out a brief podcast about it.

The SNL parody.
posted by jeather at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yup. I agree Miko.

SinisterPurpose
Adnan is guilty. Adnan is innocent. Doesn't really matter anymore.

Does the IP do that? Those are two different missions/objectives--trying to free innocent people vs trying to undo the effects of an unjust system regardless of guilt.

IP might do both, I don't know, I'm asking. I'm currently reading through the Serial transcripts that redditors put together but haven't gotten to the Dierdre one yet. I feel like they might have even had a bit of conversation about this.
posted by torticat at 10:24 AM on December 21, 2014


The SNL parody.

Okay that was hilarious, spot-on, now I can't even take the transcripts seriously because they read in my head like parody. Thanks a lot, jeather.
posted by torticat at 10:35 AM on December 21, 2014


The only thing about that SNL parody is that it missed the two funniest things about Serial:

"There's a shrimp sale at the Crab Crib" and "STEPPING OUT ON STEPHANIE".

Otherwise A+ brilliant.
posted by Sara C. at 10:59 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


And he incriminates himself over and over: I was talking to some friends and together we came up with 4-5 different times in different episodes that he said very incriminating things.

Since Adnan never provides a tidy confession, I was wondering if you could enumerate these incriminations you and your friends have identified.
posted by peeedro at 11:50 AM on December 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


The parody is amazing. Made with love, in exacting detail.
posted by Miko at 11:50 AM on December 21, 2014


if you liked the SNL parody, I think you'd like the funny or die one, which hits almost all the same notes but came out a few days earlier. Kinda made the SNL one look bad, in my opinion.
posted by skewed at 12:24 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Since Adnan never provides a tidy confession, I was wondering if you could enumerate these incriminations you and your friends have identified.

Or any confession at all, and continues to maintain his innocence after 15 years of incarceration, without qualification...
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:11 PM on December 21, 2014


Isn't this basically an outright admission of guilt?

I find this so utterly bonkers, because when I first heard this line on the podcast, my thoughts were "either Adnan has perfected the lying-to-himself-game or that is the deepest reflection of coming to peace with his situation that I have heard on this podcast so far." In that moment, to me, he inhabits the character of the wrongfully accused. To clarify, I have flip-flopping feelings on his innocence-- but let's assume he didn't do it. He's been wrongly imprisoned for the last fifteen years, he's insistent on his innocence. In past episodes, we've learned that one of his greatest bugaboos is that no one trusts him anymore, that no one believes what he says, and he's essentially alone when it comes to his case because there will always be some kind of penumbra of doubt for anyone who is close to him or anyone who sifts through the inconclusive evidence. When it comes down to his last words on Serial, this grand public referendum on his character and innocence, all he can say to Sarah is-- I know, I've learned over the last fifteen years that no one believes me, no one can take me at my word, I've come to peace with it. No one can 100% believe I'm innocent, barring some kind of curveball or upheaval based on new evidence. And so ultimately, the only person who can truly know, 100%, that I'm innocent, is me. I accept it. I just want you, Sarah, to be fair-- I want to tell myself that it's not painful for you to doubt me because I have to come to terms with reality.

And then he clarifies-- yeah, I guess also the mystery man who did it. He knows I'm innocent. But since in this scenario where Adnan is innocent no one has a single fucking clue who that is, I'd imagine it doesn't mean very much to him that he has a theoretical bosom buddy out there, a murder, whom he could trust to believe that he's innocent. That's, uh, pretty cold comfort, and it's tangential to the point that he's making, which is about how people perceive him and how he's come to terms with that pain.

The other option is that he is lying to himself and that he has truly embodied the lie to the point that he can say things like this perfectly in character, which I think is also possible-- but that's what's weird to me about people saying it's an admission of guilt, because to me if anything it's a fairly deep psychological grip on innocence.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:01 PM on December 21, 2014 [37 favorites]


continues to maintain his innocence after 15 years of incarceration, without qualification...

Well, as the show covered (a) just about everyone in prison for a serious crime like this does and (b) if he has any hope of ever getting out he can't do anything else. I mean, let's say he did do it - "in no way" [Adnanism] would I imagine that at some point he would have an emotional breakdown in which he just couldn't take it any more and confessed. That just seems like something that kind of never happens.

It seems well-established (from this show and elsewhere) that both guilty and innocent people consistently maintain their innocence, making categorical statements by someone that they are innocent not at all useful.
posted by Miko at 4:24 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


hard-favouriting stoneandstar; was truly puzzled by the opposite reading of that phrase (Sara C. & Co) above.
posted by progosk at 4:27 PM on December 21, 2014


I had the exact same reading as Sara C.; I thought it was weird as hell. Even when I try to put myself in his shoes as an innocent person with the benefit of the doubt, "only I know what happened" is not something I can really conceive coming out of my mouth. All I would know is what didn't happen, ie, me killing Hae.

However, if this show has taught me anything, it's not to judge an entire situation on one utterance or a tone of voice. For that reason alone I just noted it and set it aside. It's not enough to decide anything.
posted by Miko at 4:41 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


if he has any hope of ever getting out he can't do anything else

I don't know the ins and outs of MD law, but in most states, if a prisoner wants a shot at parole, they must show remorse. If you maintain your innocence, you can never, ever do that, and so will never have a shot at parole.
posted by rtha at 4:41 PM on December 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


I thought he wasn't going for parole, he was hoping to have the conviction overturned.

I will admit I've been way too busy lately to dig into the supporting material and legal context, though. Totally happy to be wrong.
posted by Miko at 5:07 PM on December 21, 2014


For the state's theory to be correct Jay would also have to know with 100% certainty as well. I dont think we should hang him for an awkward quote.

I think the only hope for serial junkies is that the physical evidence is conclusive. According to various online comments it sounds like the legal process to get the evidence tested and then the lab work together will be a 5-6 month process.
posted by humanfont at 5:18 PM on December 21, 2014


I thought he wasn't going for parole

Right, it's either-or. He might have (had) a shot at parole, if he had decided (likely when he was first sentenced) to start the whole acknowledge-guilt-express-remorse thing. I think it's too late for that now. That would have been his only other path, and I think it's closed to him.
posted by rtha at 5:19 PM on December 21, 2014


Even when I try to put myself in his shoes as an innocent person with the benefit of the doubt, "only I know what happened" is not something I can really conceive coming out of my mouth.

Yeah, only that's not actually what he said. In context he was talking specifically about his own guilt or innocence. Here it is in context:

I was just thinking the other day, I’m pretty sure that [SK] has people telling her, “look, you know this case is-- he’s probably guilty. You’re going crazy trying to find out if he’s innocent which you’re not going to find because he’s guilty.” I don’t think you’ll ever have one hundred percent or any type of certainty about it. The only person in the whole world who can have that is me. And for what it’s worth, whoever did it. You know you’ll never have that, I don’t think you will.

I think the afterthought is explained by the "for what it's worth"--i.e., nothing to SK, because she's not likely to find out from that person. It's not "oh shit, I just screwed up"; it's "oh right I'm all up in my own head here but of course the other guy knows I'm innocent too, but that doesn't help any with your investigation."

Or what stoneandstar said.
posted by torticat at 5:48 PM on December 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


I looked up what he said, too. In fact I see my mistake in remembering it that way, "only I know what happened" implies that I thought he said he knew what happened. I didn't think he was saying that. What he meant was only he knows of his guilt or innocence. I get that. Still, I think it's just ambiguous. it can be read either way.

. I dont think we should hang him for an awkward quote.

No, I said as much. Any single quote means nothing.
posted by Miko at 6:05 PM on December 21, 2014


Adnan's lack of detailed memories from the day of the murder could just as easily be seen as sign of his innocence. Why would a killer with details about about times and places decide to go with I don't know for an answer during those times. Wouldn't it be more likely he would make something up for the time period in question.
posted by humanfont at 8:07 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


It seems that way, but the obvious retort is that anything he offered would give something trivially easy to poke holes in. By saying "I just don't remember" he retains plausible deniability for everything. Maybe he was at track, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was at the library, maybe he wasn't. It's so much more flexible to claim you just don't know. If he made something up, the next step would (presumably) to look for witnesses to verify his story, and those stories would have to match. Making something up is a commitment to a narrative that could easily be disproven by one person - a librarian, a teacher, a clerk, a friend - who says "it didn't happen that way" or "that's doubtful because it's so very out of character for him."
posted by Miko at 8:15 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Incriminating statements from Adnan, off the cuff without going back and re-listening to the whole podcast again:

- "Only I can know the truth." Yes, he follows with "And, for what it's worth, whoever did it," but again, like how do you get into a verbal jam like that where you just admitted you killed somebody and so you have to step it back in that way?

- Best Buy Pay Phone. Independently of the topic of whether or not Best Buy had a pay phone (or whether the crime was actually committed at Best Buy), Adnan idly mentions the exact location of the Best Buy pay phone while recounting the timeline necessary for the crime to have happened the way the prosecution says it did. He is the only person interviewed who guesses the pay phone's location correctly.

- Insisting he has no memory of the day Hae disappeared, except for all the times he is magically able to reconstruct extremely specific events of the day.

- There's at least one conversation about Hae where Adnan says she dumped him, then steps back and corrects to make the breakup sound more mutual. Sure, this is something anyone might do and doesn't mean Adnan is a cold-blooded killer, but it certainly calls his statements about the nature of their breakup into question.

I'd actually like to go back and listen to all of Adnan's interviews and find more moments like this. These are just the ones that immediately jumped out at me while listening to the podcast in a totally neutral frame of mind.

If nothing else, all of these statements -- years later, after Adnan has had plenty of time to get his story straight, and edited sympathetically by someone who wants to think he's innocent -- imply that he would have been incriminating himself right and left had he taken the stand. Frankly it wouldn't surprise me to find out the cops are sure he did it because he as good as confessed to them when first questioned.
posted by Sara C. at 8:25 PM on December 21, 2014


I'd actually like to go back and listen to all of Adnan's interviews

Wouldn't that be interesting? Seriously, I'd take that in place of the last 8 episodes. Just unedited interviews. Wonder if that audio will ever be posted.
posted by Miko at 8:51 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Adnan idly mentions the exact location of the Best Buy pay phone

According to Jay, Adnan told him that he and Hae sometimes parked at the Best Buy to hook up. It sounds like it was a local hangout spot. Before we had cellphones, I remember it was normal to go into stores to use the phone. This is not particularly incriminating.

I am also incredulous every time people pull out the "but why doesn't he REMEMBER?" comment, when the very first episode established that people have shitty memories. Go back and listen to the first part of the first interview.

Let's also recall Deirdre from the Innocence Project saying that if you have a truly innocent person who was unjustly jailed, they'll be totally unhelpful because they won't have answers for you.

I'm not someone committed to the idea that Adnan is innocent. There are suspicious circumstances. But please stop listing this sort of stuff as evidence of his guilt.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:04 PM on December 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


People have shitty memories of things that happened weeks, months, or years ago. People generally don't have huge gaping holes in their memory of what happened earlier the same day.

Let's also recall Deirdre from the Innocence Project saying that if you have a truly innocent person who was unjustly jailed, they'll be totally unhelpful because they won't have answers for you.

Wow, I took this totally the opposite way from how it seems that you did. I took this to mean that you're not going to learn anything new that will exonerate a person by interviewing them and pressing them for details about the case. So it's best not to get personally involved to the point of obsession, as Sarah has. I didn't think she meant that Adnan was innocent because he claims not to remember anything.
posted by Sara C. at 9:19 PM on December 21, 2014


According to Jay, Adnan told him that he and Hae sometimes parked at the Best Buy to hook up. It sounds like it was a local hangout spot. Before we had cellphones, I remember it was normal to go into stores to use the phone. This is not particularly incriminating.

That's true and he'd only just got his cellphone before the murder, so. It's easy to forget what it was like before cell phones, you did kinda tend to know where the pay phones were you might commonly use or need to use.

Just unedited interviews. Wonder if that audio will ever be posted.

I'd like to see the rest of that letter that he wrote to SK a few weeks before the podcast ended. I think that Adnan must be guilty, but damn is he a plausible liar. The excerpts from that letter were heartbreaking.
posted by torticat at 9:21 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


People have shitty memories of things that happened weeks, months, or years ago. People generally don't have huge gaping holes in their memory of what happened earlier the same day.

Adnan wasn't asked about that day until five weeks later. What I find unbelievable is that everyone seemed to believe Jay remembered every freaking phone call that went back and forth on a day five weeks earlier. That is just ridiculously implausible.

Also (as discussed earlier) Adnan never said "Only I can know the truth," but something pretty different.

I think he's guilty, but I agree with Solon and Thanks that it's more useful to deal with the actual facts we do know.
posted by torticat at 9:28 PM on December 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


For me it's not so much that people used to remember where pay phones were, it's that he brought it up apropos of nothing. As if he were recounting something that had actually happened, and not something hypothetical. Later in the conversation, when it's revealed that the prosecution's timeline is plausible after all, his response is to stress how long it took to clear the school bus area, as if, again, he was remembering something that had actually happened.

In general, though, my feeling that Adnan is guilty comes more out of logic and less out of whether he seems guilty in conversation. His many incriminating statements are just icing on the cake of my disbelief that so many people have been so hoodwinked by an obvious manipulator.
posted by Sara C. at 9:31 PM on December 21, 2014


Yes, he follows with "And, for what it's worth, whoever did it," but again, like how do you get into a verbal jam like that where you just admitted you killed somebody and so you have to step it back in that way?

People don't choose their words that carefully, and to take this statement as "no one will ever know the truth, because I am the real killer, oh wait, no!" is just bizarre and like other posters have noted, a little bit frightening. If you don't act and talk exactly how people think an innocent man should talk, a big chunk of the population will think you're guilty for failing to meet their expectations. I say this as someone who think that it's more likely than not that Adnan did it.

And why, if this is the natural interpretation of Adnan's statement right there, is that not headline quote of the episode? Is it because SK is trying to protect Adnan (which I think she mostly is)? Then why did she include this "gotcha" quote at all? Is it perhaps because it's not a gotcha quote, but most reasonably interpreted based on context as "at this point, I've accepted that only I know the truth of my innocence, there will never be any new evidence to prove that someone else did it".

This whole thing reminds me of the "the dingoes ate my baby!" woman from Australia who was wrongly imprisoned, largely because her affect was off-puttingly cool.
posted by skewed at 9:34 PM on December 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


the very first episode established that people have shitty memories

Yeah, that was a great introductory device - but at the same time, it proves only that they have shitty memories for days that were otherwise unremarkable. I also have a shitty memory for where I was three or six weeks ago, but if pressed, I could certainly reconstruct the major events and could easily put certain things in the category of things that did/could have happened and things that could not have happened. I hesitate to put too much stock in this point about memory. People in trials do reconstruct their movements, often based on the evidence of their regular schedules and any variances from that schedule as well as their email and calendars and written materials. That Koenig asked a bunch of random people to recall an unremarkable day and didn't get good results is unsurprising. When someone says to you "reconstructing your actions on X day is going to be very important to your future," that casts an entirely different degree of attention on that day, and at least I would indeed do my level best to reconstruct every step, or get as close as I possibly could , drawing on every resource available to me.

In other words, I would be Don; if only because the clearer and more specific and accurate my record is, the closer I might be bringing investigators to a true resolution of events.
posted by Miko at 9:35 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "Only I can know the truth."

Is that an actual quote that he says? Because what I'm remembering is this, quoted above, and which is quite different to me:

> I was just thinking the other day, I’m pretty sure that [SK] has people telling her, “look, you know this case is-- he’s probably guilty. You’re going crazy trying to find out if he’s innocent which you’re not going to find because he’s guilty.” I don’t think you’ll ever have one hundred percent or any type of certainty about it. The only person in the whole world who can have that is me. And for what it’s worth, whoever did it.

I guess it's different to me because it's not about whether or not he's guilty or innocent, but about anyone's belief in his guilt or innocence.

> Wow, I took this totally the opposite way from how it seems that you did. I took this to mean that you're not going to learn anything new that will exonerate a person by interviewing them and pressing them for details about the case.

Yeah, you're not going to learn anything new because an innocent person won't have new things to tell you: they will have the same old ordinary amount of "I don't remember, I guess if it was Thursday I would have been at..." as anyone who was not consciously going about their day committing criminal acts. There are several days in the last week where I have no alibi for large chunks of the day because they were ordinary days, and I don't have alibis for ordinary days, you know? For example, what did I do a week ago today. Well, without looking at my online calender (not available in 1999), or my texts or emails (nowhere near as ubiquitous or all-encompassing in 1999) or online social network activity, I could tell you that it was a Sunday, and so I probably slept in, read the Sunday papers, and then....Vacuumed? Did some laundry? Did I go for a walk - I might have, or was that Saturday? Which day did it rain, again?

A week ago today, I know what I was likely to have done, given my general weekend pattern, but I'd have to look at my texts/emails/facebook/etc. to reconstruct what I actually did.
posted by rtha at 9:47 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


a little bit frightening.

People keep saying things like this, and I don't really understand. Let's all remember that we're talking about someone who is currently serving life in prison for murdering his girlfriend. It's not like I just stopped some stranger on the street and used conversational judo to make them admit to a murder they clearly didn't commit.

It's not really out of left field to consider that Adnan might have actually committed the crime he was convicted of. Especially since logic, all the facts, and his own testimony imply that this is indeed the case.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 PM on December 21, 2014


January 13, 1999. I was living in Philadelphia. It was my last year there. I was teaching during the week and waiting tables on the weekends. Most likely, I slept in until 10 or 11, made some coffee in my apartment, lazed about, took a shower, and went into work at the restuaran about 3:30 for the evening shift. if pressed, I could ask my roommates about it, or check the restaurant schedule. I had a hotmail account then, and I might have checked it from my roomie's computer (I didn't have internet on my own); if I still had the account, I could find whatever I'd written that day [I saw that Hotmail played a part in this story, and records are inaccessible]. It's pretty fuzzy now, for sure, but if asked within six weeks of the day, it wouldn't have been too hard to reconstruct. It's not about only my memory, it's about where it intersects with others and where there's some evidence (like the restaurant schedule, me punching into the time clock, me making a phone call on my land line, whether my rommates had work that day or not which they could verify based on their schedules).

I get that it's hard. It's just not impossible, and when it gets serious that you need to reconstruct it, you pull out all the stops and you do your best.

One of the things that enrages me about the story is track practice, and how the coach can't say whether or not Adnan was there. Jesus Christ, dude, you're in loco parentis and responsible for these kids' safety and whereabouts. You don't take attendance? Nothing? It's concerning. Bad school practice.
posted by Miko at 9:55 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


People in trials do reconstruct their movements, often based on the evidence of their regular schedules and any variances from that schedule as well as their email and calendars and written materials.

In this very case, even!

The crazy thing is the degree to which people are willing to take Asia's alibi as gospel truth despite the fact that it's highly unlikely that a person would remember a particular afternoon that clearly fifteen years later, and at the same time are willing to assume Adnan's innocence because, well, who could possibly remember a particular afternoon that clearly fifteen years later?
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree, Sara - once you've dismissed memory as reliable evidence, you cut yourself off from citing anyone's memory as reliable evidence. It's too great a price to pay. Memory is the main tool of reconstruction, especially when the limited "factual" evidence, like cell phone records, has been undermined.
posted by Miko at 10:02 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Remembering, I also was still writing a lot of dead-tree letters in 1999. They could be subpoena'd, as could any paper notes, schedules, receipts, or anything else I had still laying around after 6 weeks or had already passed to others.
posted by Miko at 10:04 PM on December 21, 2014


It's not really out of left field to consider that Adnan might have actually committed the crime he was convicted of. Especially since logic, all the facts, and his own testimony imply that this is indeed the case.

I disagree with this "especially" really strongly - that logic, all the facts, and his own testimony (which, forgive my nitpick, doesn't exist: he didn't testify at either of his trials) imply he did it. I think there is very strong reasonable doubt. I really don't know if he actually did it. I do not concede that evidence and testimony show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he deserves to be in prison.
posted by rtha at 10:12 PM on December 21, 2014 [12 favorites]


It's frightening because you're not talking about all the pretty strong evidence against Adnan, you're focusing on (in this thread at least) the phrasing of a statement he made, and how it constituted a confession in your mind. Personally, I think Adnan probalby did it, but the fact that the phrasing of a statement like Adnan made is a big deal to some people, that it could be picked out as especially incriminating is scary. To me, it's a meaningless statement, one I can imagine me saying if I were innocent.
posted by skewed at 10:15 PM on December 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also, to chime in with Miko and because it's a fun thought experiment:

On January 13, 1999, I was a senior in high school in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was a boarding school, and I lived in a suite of six girls in a dormitory called Caddo Hall on campus (I could easily give all five other girls' first and last names if necessary). My suite was 201L, which meant the left-hand wing of the second floor. Our school had a college-esque class schedule, so it's a little bit difficult to reconstruct what I did on that particular day. (Did we have a University style longer holiday break, meaning I was out of school until after MLK Day? What day of the week was it, and how would that have affected what my schedule was like that day?) Assuming it was a school day, though, most likely I got up around 7-8 AM, walked to campus, ate breakfast in the cafeteria*, and then went to either Economics (if it was a Monday, a Wednesday, or a Friday) or Modern Dance (Tuesdays and Thursdays). If I had Modern Dance, I would have arrived to class in my leotard etc and carried a change of clothes in a gym bag. I took 8 classes that semester, spread over two different class-day schedules, so I'd have had 4 classes per day. This included Trigonometry, which I cut regularly since I knew I was going on to a liberal arts college where it wouldn't matter how I did in my last ever math class. So I had a lot of free time throughout the day. However, leaving campus during the school day was strictly forbidden, and the dorms were a schlep from the main school buildings. So most days I hung around either in the Student Activity Center (where a lot of Pop Up Video was consumed and someone once accidentally hit me on the back of the head with a pool cue-ball), the computer labs (hotmail and AIM for lyfe bitchezzzzzz), or this one particular tree in the quad I liked to climb. I did not have a lunch break, as I was taking too many classes (this was a boarding school for nerds, did I mention?) and was definitely facilitating my eating disorder by just not ever having time to eat a proper meal.

After school it's possible that I went across the street to the Texaco station and got an ICEE. It's also likely that I had a rehearsal, since I was always in one play or another back then. I'd have had something for dinner back in the cafeteria, as well. From 6-8 was Study Hour, and we were required to be either in the dorms, the high school building, or the library. I most often spent Study Hour in the high school building because my RA in the dorms was a hard-ass, and the library was boring and a bit of a schlep. I was taking AP Spanish that semester, so I might have been in a study group for that (AP Spanish is hard and we actually needed to study for real), or I might have been goofing off in one of a number of English teachers' office hours. Between 8 and 10 was Social Hour**. I mostly hung out in my dorm, because back then I was all about my girlfriends and there wasn't really anywhere else to go other than the common room of the boys' dorm. But I do have memories of Social Hour in the boys' dorm, so it could have happened that way. Lights out was at 11.

My main question after all this recounting is WTF I spent so much time doing in the computer lab, since basically none of the internet infrastructure we rely on today existed back then. I would love to see my browsing history from back then.

*My parents were going through a divorce at that time, and I had a degree of disordered eating going on. IIRC this was in my Grits For Breakfast phase, when I pretty much ate grits for breakfast every single day and mostly nothing else at all. I did not drink coffee as a rule, though it's embarrassingly likely that I washed down the grits with either a soda, because boarding school, amirite.

**Yeah, boarding school, go figure.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 PM on December 21, 2014


On January 13th, 1999 I should have been in my senior year of high school, but I was already dropping out.

If I was in New York, I would have woken up at my mother's apartment, but given that I was in the middle of a bonkers depressive episode and was sleeping up to 16 hours a day, I have no idea when I would have gotten up. I may have tried to make it to school anyway, or maybe not. I gave up on the idea not long thereafter. If I did go to school, I don't know what time I got there, or when I headed out, or if I left the building and returned (we weren't at all restricted from doing so).

Or I could have woken up in Maryland at my then-boyfriends place. At which point I probably spent most of the day at his place, since I didn't have a car or a license.

Either way, I probably did spend some time online, both checking my Hotmail and visiting chat rooms. But those records have long since vanished into the ether. I may have made landline calls, but I wouldn't own a cell phone until years later.

In short, between the lack of a structured schedule or restrictions on my movement, I'd have a really hard time nailing down what I did that day. Can I tell you what I did six weeks ago with a fair amount of clarity? Sure, especially if I'm allowed to check my email and phone and Google calendar. But 15 years ago? Not at all.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:53 PM on December 21, 2014


OMG Maryland and you don't remember what you did? What if you're the murderer?
posted by Sara C. at 11:17 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: People keep saying things like this, and I don't really understand.

To me it's frightening because in the last few months I've put myself in the shoes of a man, Adnan Syed, who was, irrespective of anything else you think about him, railroaded by the Maryland justice system. One of the scariest aspects of this case was when it came to light that the jurors disregarded instructions from the judge and convicted him partly because of their interpretation of why he didn't testify.

What's so uncomfortable to me is that not only do you interpret as admissions of guilt statements that have much more plausible alternative explanations, you also make arguments based on your incorrect memory of what happened. Such as this:
The crazy thing is the degree to which people are willing to take Asia's alibi as gospel truth despite the fact that it's highly unlikely that a person would remember a particular afternoon that clearly fifteen years later, and at the same time are willing to assume Adnan's innocence because, well, who could possibly remember a particular afternoon that clearly fifteen years later?
No one is going just on Asia McClain's present day memory. She wrote Adnan a letter shortly after he was first arrested, saying she had seen him in the library after school.

You, and others in this thread, are very comfortable jumping to conclusions. One reason why Adnan Syed is in prison is that people jumped to conclusions based on everything from his ethnicity to how his behavior fit their subjective notions of what a guilty/innocent person does. Having put myself in his shoes, it's very disquieting to see people be so ready to commit the same sort of error the jury did.
posted by Kattullus at 11:25 PM on December 21, 2014 [22 favorites]


What if you're the murderer?
Given that I was in Anne Arundel County and didn't have a car, I'm pretty sure it wasn't me. That said, I do feel a little slighted by the fact that Sarah Koenig never called me to make sure.

Plus, the ex worked at a Best Buy! Not the same Best Buy, but still.

It was crazy hearing all those place names again, all Catonsville, Patapsco, Ellicot City, Jessup, Linthicum. And I will never get tired of that accent.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:40 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Given that I was in Anne Arundel County...

Or, uh, might have been in Anne Arundel County. Lord knows.

Slip of the tongue or incriminating statement? You decide.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:50 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


how do you get into a verbal jam like that where you just admitted you killed somebody and so you have to step it back in that way?

You don't? Again, this is not an episode of Columbo. You are majorly projecting your own assumptions about Adnan onto that statement. You keep claiming that you're not just focusing on a pause, yet you're more or less ready to hang him over what is a combination of you mis-remembering what he said, and desiring a magic gotcha statement from him that frankly just is not there.

He is the only person interviewed who guesses the pay phone's location correctly.

And this means ... what? Adnan never claimed that the pay phone didn't exist (that was entirely SK, during her attempt to recreate the state's version of events). He also had been to that Best Buy a number of times before, from what it sounds like. This is a super benign comment that you're again looking for a magic gotcha in.

Insisting he has no memory of the day Hae disappeared, except for all the times he is magically able to reconstruct extremely specific events of the day.

He wasn't asked to recount specifics about that day until 5 weeks after the fact. The only thing he knew about Hae that day is that the cops called because her parents had reported her missing. At that point in time, there was no evidence of foul play put in front of him. He was also high as a kite when they called. You're seriously shocked that someone doesn't remember much of the details of a day that far after the fact, when half their day (the part they can generally recall) was a normal school day, and the other half started with them getting stoned (which is not exactly conducive to memory formation)?

There's at least one conversation about Hae where Adnan says she dumped him, then steps back and corrects to make the breakup sound more mutual. Sure, this is something anyone might do and doesn't mean Adnan is a cold-blooded killer, but it certainly calls his statements about the nature of their breakup into question.

And? I mean, this is on your list of smoking guns: a high school breakup left the involved parties not necessarily agreeing about who ended things. This is the bloody handprint, to you?

If nothing else, all of these statements -- years later, after Adnan has had plenty of time to get his story straight, and edited sympathetically by someone who wants to think he's innocent -- imply that he would have been incriminating himself right and left had he taken the stand. Frankly it wouldn't surprise me to find out the cops are sure he did it because he as good as confessed to them when first questioned.

Yikes. You ask why people are using the word "frightening" to describe the "Adnan is absolutely guilty" crowd. Well, here's why, right here. You yourself are an example of the terrifying need of people to have an answer, any answer, even if it requires the mental gymnastics of more or less making up a story out of whole cloth to justify it.

Based on your comments in this thread, I kinda hope you're never on a jury.
posted by tocts at 4:43 AM on December 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


It seems that way, but the obvious retort is that anything he offered would give something trivially easy to poke holes in.

This describes Jay's statements in my opinion. All the details are there, but when they get challenged with verifiable things that poke holes, he changes his story to adjust to the new facts.
posted by humanfont at 4:46 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


It really is frightening the way people are willing to fill gaps, or frankly chasms, with their "intuition".

It's not really out of left field to consider that Adnan might have actually committed the crime he was convicted of. Especially since logic, all the facts, and his own testimony imply that this is indeed the case.

To consider the "and for what's it worth, the killer" to mean anything, isn't just out of left field, it's a ballpark in another city. And everything after the "especially" is just not true. The "logic"? You mean the one witness with a plea deal whose story changes every time he tells it, with timelines that don't work? The "facts", like the complete lack of physical evidence? His own testimony? You mean the testimony he did not give on the (common, totally normal) advice of his attorney?
posted by spaltavian at 5:48 AM on December 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I haven't made it all the way through the thread yet, so forgive me if this is a repeat: I agree with the idea that everyone is lying. I think both Adnan and Jay were involved although perhaps only as witnesses. There was some reddit speculation of a drug deal gone bad, and that makes a lot of sense to me. It satisfies the conflicting ideas that a) Jay was absolutely involved somehow because he knew where Hae's car was; b) it doesn't make sense to me that he'd randomly implicate Adnan - ie, Adnan is involved somehow; c) but neither of them seem like ruthless murderers. I guess the idea is that whoever did it or whatever they (J and A) were involved in was high-level and dangerous enough that they couldn't go to the police - maybe it would jeopardize their families or something. So Adnan's only hope is that he gets exonerated without someone fingering the actual perpetrators.

Another thing I wish had been addressed more: I suspect that it is very difficult to manually strangle someone - both physically and emotionally. I suspect that it takes a massive effort of emotional will and denial - to look someone in the eyes as you choke the life out of him/her over the course of what I have to believe is minutes. Heat of passion notwithstanding, from my laughably distant perspective it simply defies belief that Adnan did it.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:27 AM on December 22, 2014


Another thing I wish had been addressed more: I suspect that it is very difficult to manually strangle someone - both physically and emotionally. I suspect that it takes a massive effort of emotional will and denial - to look someone in the eyes as you choke the life out of him/her over the course of what I have to believe is minutes. Heat of passion notwithstanding, from my laughably distant perspective it simply defies belief that Adnan did it.

Oh gods, if only it were so easy to figure out who's capable of killing someone.
posted by Etrigan at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


My favorite part of all this is people who say stuff like "it doesn't strike me as plausible that the person who admits to being involved is involved in the way he claims; instead it makes much more sense that it's a serial killer or high level drug people or something else entirely that nobody has yet inferred."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Etrigan - obviously I'm just speaking of my relatively uninformed gut - but I feel like the issue of the actual ACT of strangulation hasn't been discussed very much. It was briefly touched on during the timeline episode, where the state's timeline was deemed POSSIBLE assuming that the murder took place in like 90 seconds or something like that. I suspect that, for a high-school senior with no criminal tendencies (ie, Adnan), it would have been a much bigger undertaking.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:00 AM on December 22, 2014


What stands out most to me in this thread is how much people have a normative view of language. Everyone is digging in to this one statement made by Adnan from their own perspective and how they personally use language in a perfect circumstance. Instead, it is useful to remember that dialects are a thing, and people speak rather imprecisely most of the time. I can't say one way or another whether Adnan is guilty, but the idea that his words should be hyper-dissected is basically bonkers. It assumes too much.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:03 AM on December 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


(A)H and (W)O - assuming you are responding to my comment - between Jay's lies, his outright guilty behavior, and the lack of hard evidence on Adnan, I have reasonable doubt about Adnan's guilt. Clearly he and Jay were up to SOMETHING on 1/13/99, perhaps with Hae's involvement, perhaps she was an accidental witness, I don't know. This would account for all the driving around that they did that day. The idea that Adnan went over to Jay's house to "make sure" he had bought a present for his girlfriend's birthday - I never bought that. I think they are both lying about something they were up to that day, and I think it is related to Hae's murder.

It was mentioned on reddit that Jay's family has a history of drug dealing, including harder drugs than pot.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:05 AM on December 22, 2014


538 gets in on it, focusing on the probability of Adnan being guilty.
posted by meese at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jay was clearly making shit up as he went along, and since we don't know exactly why, it makes sense not to take him at his word as to the level and nature of his involvement. The theory that makes the most sense to me is he was trying to craft the rest of his alibi around the time he thought (knew) Hae was killed, which suggests he was more involved than he says.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:57 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


There's no way to know, of course, but we do know he gave about a hundred conflicting explanations of what happened that day, and so he lies, a lot.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:58 AM on December 22, 2014


If we're looking just at statistics, it's most likely that Hae was killed by Adnan, Don, or possibly a male family member. It's much less likely that Hae was killed by Jay, a serial killer, or some kind of "drug deal gone wrong" scenario. Just based on the reality that a woman is most likely to suffer violence at the hands of a man she already knows.

I'll admit that a big part of my guess that Adnan did it is just because, look, women get murdered by their boyfriends and exes all the fucking time. And nobody likes to talk about it.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 AM on December 22, 2014


On memory, it's highly unreliable. Even on days of national importance. Studies into flashbulb memories related to 9/11 showed significant degradation after only one week. We like to think we'll never forget. And as long as we replay in the media what happened, we'll never forget those facts. But our personal stories are based on the fact that "most likely I hung around at the public library waiting for track practice, since I rarely missed. And I most likely got picked up by Jay so that we could get baked afterwards."

And Sara C, based on that logic, isn't it statistically more likely it was Don?
posted by politikitty at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2014


Potentially, but he has a pretty airtight alibi.
posted by Sara C. at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2014


I actually wouldn't be too surprised to find out it was someone from Hae's family, if we're looking outside the cast of characters presented by Serial.
posted by Sara C. at 10:37 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Isn't Don's alibi just that the computer system over which his mother has absolute oversight has him clocked in for his shift? It's not like there's video (that Koenig mentioned).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:41 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I was at work where I was seen and clocked in and there's potentially security footage" is a lot tighter than "I don't know, but I'm going to keep weighing in on how everybody incriminating me is definitely wrong about where they say I was".

I'm not willing to say that it couldn't have been Don, but I'm also weighing the fact that Don is both the most obvious choice and also was very quickly ruled out as having some degree of meaning. Unless we're guessing that he was ruled out by the cops out of sheer racism, because they were desperate to pin it on the Pakistani kid?
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on December 22, 2014


We've all seen this story before, the drug deal gone terribly wrong that ends up with someone getting . . . strangled?
posted by skewed at 10:52 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The reddit site says that Don's family is Law Enforcement. I think his dad was a cop? Pretty reasonable the cops wouldn't look at him too hard unless he was caught red handed. Whereas the guy with the drug dealer as an alibi is going to get the third degree by cops. And that drug dealer is going to say whatever he needs to not go to jail.

And when your mom is the manager, it's easy to sneak off for a long break. Hae was going to meet Don. He didn't need to go anywhere, he didn't need to trick her into going somewhere private. He just needed to kill her and then he could have handled the rest at a time when he didn't have an alibi.
posted by politikitty at 10:53 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


What was I doing on that day? Well, I'm a few years younger than Adnan, so I was a high school freshman at a different Baltimore County high school (~14 miles away, ~18 on the Beltway). Was there snow at that time? I don't remember, but I lived in the same area and would have also gotten off from school. There were a lot of snowstorms during middle school and early high school. Was that the big ice storm? No, I think that was 1996. Was it the wet snowstorm, or the one that just dropped a ton? I absolutely do not remember, even though I love snow and I love getting off from school.

I might have gone to that Best Buy in my lifetime, even though I didn't have a car until senior year and it was a ways away. I had my Bar Mitzvah reception playing laser tag at Eastpoint Mall. But I grew up in the County and know very little about Baltimore City other than the Inner Harbor. I probably know more from watching the Wire multiple times. Leakin Park? I dunno where that is.

But let's say I was at school then. Well, I'd have been at wrestling and then OM. But I was a terrible wrestler and I doubt my coach took attendance, nor would he have cared that I was absent. My absence would have been noted from OM, but as I said I got there a bit later than the rest of my team due to wrestling (what a poor decision that was). So there would have been a period of a few hours from the end of school until OM. Attendance was not taken there, so it's not like there is a written record of any sort.

Hell, what sort of written records exist? I mean, I had email by then, but that email account hasn't existed for over a decade. I'm two completely different email domains past that. I thought for a second that my old LJ (which still exists) might have dated from back then but I just checked and I started in July 2001. There are possibly some extant Word docs that have survived multiple computer transfers, there are probably some embarrassing short stories, poetry, and interactive fiction still around if you google my regular internet d'plumes (I know there is), but none of that establishes presence anywhere. And despite being a packrat on both my mother and father's side, I was not the note-writing kind, I can't imagine that if any existed it has survived moving rooms and cleaning house. But jesus christ, my writing (and my entire demeanor) was dark, I'm sure that I wrote violent stuff, or used violent imagery, especially before Columbine. I remember my mom warning me about it after that.

Now sure, that was a relatively normal day. And I was a few years younger. This information was not collected extemporaneously. It's not been seared into my consciousness. I remember the day I heard my grandfather died. I was in Statistics? No, it was Math Modeling and Simulation. Maybe? I'm pretty certain Ms. Hanna was teaching it, so one of those too. Well, I guess it could have been Ms. Love, but I know I was in the A Building. Did I cry? I remember having trouble crying. I was probably wearing pants, it was January and I know that because that's when I light a yarzheit candle.

So what's my point? Well, I don't have a good memory. Maybe you do, but I'm betting that it's probably not as good as you think. Our memories are constantly being reconstructed, it's a record where the needle is continually redigging the groove. If that needle skips? Well, you've got a new groove, a little different, off to the side. You can absolutely implant fake memories, I've played practical jokes on my friends, essentially gaslighting them into remembering something that didn't happen (I'm an asshole, and I've since apologized). We had the Satanic Panic of the 80s as proof of this. It's much easier to misremember something, to remember it a little differently, or to hear about it from someone and have their account take over your own. It's actually more common with more memorable events, you're thinking about it more, the needle is digging a bigger groove.

So you can remember something all you want, but this is 15 years later, I'm betting it's not exactly as you remember it. And if it's a normal day and you don't think that you need to keep track or remember everything? You're not consciously establishing an alibi all the time. This is 15 years ago, before completely ubiquitous tiny computers with GPS in all our pockets. Heck, before as much credits cards that record where and when it's being used. Fewer cameras, and the ones that were there? Tape most likely, reused because that shit is expensive.

Hell, I wasn't even high. But by all accounts, Adnan was stoned out of his gourd. I'm not particularly experienced, but I'm told that stuff can make you paranoid sometimes. Can you imagine what would happen if you had to talk to a cop when stoned (I can say, it's fairly nerve-wracking)?

This is why the contemporaneous stuff is helpful, certainly more than the recollection 15 years later, but not completely proven.

Again, I don't know if Adnan is guilty (I suspect not), but there is basically no proof that Jay's testimony is remotely credible, there is a lot of evidence that it is not. And there is not enough evidence to convict Adnan.
posted by X-Himy at 10:55 AM on December 22, 2014


But if Don killed Hae, how did Jay know where Hae's car was?
posted by Sara C. at 10:56 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The memory tangent is not really relevant to Adnan's memory of where he was the day Hae went missing, since police questioned Adnan about Hae's whereabouts that day. We can speculate that for some reason a friend going missing or being questioned by the police wouldn't have stuck in Adnan's memory, but you have to admit that it's weird that, at the time, Adnan had no memories of just a few hours ago.
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 AM on December 22, 2014


But if Don killed Hae, how did Jay know where Hae's car was?

Any theory other than Jay, Adnan or both did it has to contend with this problem, which explains the popularity on the internet of the idea that the cops found the car and coerced Jay into his whole part in the crime. Because if Jay really knew where the car was, all the narratives that don't involve Adnan become very implausible.
posted by skewed at 11:11 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


One thing that rings false and is underexplained from the prosecution's narrative is the rationale for Adnan bring in Jay. If I was going to kill my ex-girlfriend there would be two very strong considerations I would take into account before involving someone else: (1) do I trust the person; and (2) do I need to bring that person into my plan. According to one of the early episodes Jay wasn't a good friend of Adnan's, he was his dealer. Someone you might hang around with, but not someone you would implicitly trust. Granted, he might be someone you would assume wouldn't freak out (given his Rodman-like personae), but for the same reason he seems unlikely to be someone you could bully into an accessory to murder (Which was the only explanation we heard for why Jay was involved - Adnan threatened to turn him in for dealing).

More importantly, I can't figure out why Jay was necessary to Adnan's (alleged) plan. It nice to have someone help bury the body but not necessary. Its also nice to have someone pick you up, but also not necessary,- you could always drive Hae's car to wherever you left your own. There might be a little bit of walking involved, but that seems far less risky than involving someone else in the crime.

I suppose it could all be explained away if Jay was far more involved with the murder than he admits, but it seems odd that he police, the prosecutors and the defense just let that part of his story stand.
posted by rtimmel at 11:12 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Police called to ask if he knew where Hae was, not what he was doing.

I take that phone call to mean she ditched wrestling and picking up her cousin. Not a big deal that I need to get my ducks in a row. Maybe hide the weed in case her parents convince the cops to check and see she isn't hanging out with her pothead ex.

Don takes it to mean that she might be dead, and he needed to alibi out. Why would he jump to that conclusion? When people come home late, they aren't dead like 99.99% of the time.

We know now that she was in fact dead (or would be soon. We don't actually know when she died, just when she went missing). But we shouldn't project that knowledge onto two guys who wouldn't have that knowledge unless they were connected to the murder.
posted by politikitty at 11:15 AM on December 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


you have to admit that it's weird that, at the time, Adnan had no memories of just a few hours ago.

I'm honestly baffled how you're reaching some of these conclusions, the police were just calling around on the day of to see if anyone knew where Hae was. There's no reason to think that at that time Adnan said, "I don't know, I have no memories of the last five hours"--that's ridiculous. He probably just told them he'd seen her at school but not after. They wouldn't have been looking for an alibi, and it's perfectly believable to me that Adnan wouldn't have been thinking in those terms either at that point.

Honestly I thought Don's account of his train of thought was weirder--I don't particularly suspect Don of anything but I think it's weird--that he says he immediately went back and firmed up in his mind where he'd been all day in case he might end up a suspect. Hae was a teenager, she'd only been missing a couple hours. Whose mind immediately goes to, "Oh god, she might be DEAD, I'd better have an alibi"? Someone who watches a lot of cop shows, maybe? I mean people don't normally even go in a "missing persons" file until they've been gone for 24 hours or more, do they?
posted by torticat at 11:15 AM on December 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


LOL, jinx politikitty.
posted by torticat at 11:17 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, talking of invented memories. You could go back and listen to the podcasts, but you remember, REMEMBER, that the cops called and asked Adnan to recount for his last five hours.

Shame that's not what happened, but I'm sure you'd be willing to testify in court?
posted by X-Himy at 11:19 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Aren't all cops just always in cover your ass mode? It makes no sense that an officer would find Hae's car and not report/file it. There are thousands of stories of cops planting evidence and coercing false confessions/statements, but has anyone ever heard of cops doing what is being claimed here? Finding a murder victim's car (or some other similarly significant piece of evidence) and sitting on it until a suspect becomes known to them, and then finding someone else to make statements incriminating the suspect?

An also: what reason at all would Jenn have for admitting that she helped Jay dispose of evidence?

I'm very uncertain of lots of things but the thing I'm most certain about is that Jay was involved in at least the burial of Hae.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:22 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


We know that Jay changed his story countless times. And it's highly likely they used his drug connections to convince him to talk. We don't know if he gave them one location for the car, or 20.

Where did you stash the car? I dunno. Where would I stash a car if I wanted someone to look gone? Places with cars 24/7. The park and ride is better than a lot of alternatives. Minimal security, but constant activity. Unlike airport parking, or 24/7 sites like WalMart.

And the dump site for the car was smart. It wasn't discovered until after the body, so more than three weeks. That suggests premeditated. Not a 17 yo kid who may be bright, but his best idea for an accomplice is his friendly neighborhood dealer.
posted by politikitty at 11:28 AM on December 22, 2014


To be honest (still thinking about people's responses on the day Hae went missing) it seems a little unusual to me how quickly Hae's family called the cops & the cops responded. You figure the little cousin's school called at 3:15 or so to report that Hae had missed the pickup. Two+ hours later, the cops are at her family's house, calling around to her friends?

If she'd been a little kid, I would expect it. But a high schooler? As a parent of a 16yo and an 18yo, I'd say that seems awfully fast for filing a police report, and I'm guessing the cops weren't taking it as a hugely serious situation at the time. The reaction Adnan said he had when he heard--"man her mom is going to be PISSED when she shows up"--that seems about on target to me.
posted by torticat at 11:43 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Isn't the simplest explanation that Jay killed Hae by himself and made up a lie to blame Adnan? He admits to having Adnan's car and the phone. He admits to knowing the location of the body and the dumped car. He was the local drug hookup. He has no alibi for the time of the killing. His testimony contains clear lies, changing narratives and inconsistencies. He showed signs of paranoia before he was brought in by police. After the trial public records suggest he went on to commit assault-- another violent crime.
posted by humanfont at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Torticat, that part doesn't surprise me much. Koenig didn't go into much detail on the Lees, but she did say that Hae had to hide her relationships from them as much as Adnan had to hide her from his parents. So I can easily believe they'd be paranoid enough to call the cops over a three-hour absence.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:00 PM on December 22, 2014


Yeah, I agree, and I didn't mean to sound like I was finding fault with her family. It was more that it was soon enough that I doubt the cops were all that fussed about it at the time.

Being out of contact for a couple hours is normal for a teenager; not showing up for a commitment (like work, or picking up a cousin) is admittedly different and as a parent I'd be worried too. The police, I would expect, less so.
posted by torticat at 12:11 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm honestly baffled how you're reaching some of these conclusions, the police were just calling around on the day of to see if anyone knew where Hae was. There's no reason to think that at that time Adnan said, "I don't know, I have no memories of the last five hours"--that's ridiculous.

How is it possible that Adnan knew what he did that day enough to give credible information to the police about (his knowledge of) Hae's whereabouts, but not enough to have even the vaguest clue where he was or what he was doing when asked the same question a few weeks later?

How does your story change from "I saw her at school but not after, she had to pick up her cousin, and no I didn't arrange to get a ride from her" to "Gee, I have no idea what I did that day at all," over the course of being questioned by the police a few times?

People aren't computers. "Do you know where Hae Min Lee is? Have you seen her today? What were your interactions with her in the last 24 hours?" isn't an entirely separate place in a person's mind from "Where were you and what were you doing over the last day?" If a cop called me right now and asked me if I knew where someone was who I'd seen within the last day, I would start reconstructing my day and thinking over whether I saw them and what they said and where they were going. Which would probably lead me to be aware of where I was and what I was doing throughout the day.

It seems pretty natural that whatever information Adnan gave the police about her whereabouts the day she went missing would still hold true a few days later when he was brought in for questioning in connection with her murder.
posted by Sara C. at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2014


Also, re Hae going missing, it's not like she was just randomly flaky one afternoon. She was meant to pick up her cousin from school, something she did regularly, and she never showed. She was meant to be at a wrestling match, something she did regularly, and she never showed. To me, unless Hae was the most unreliable hot mess ever, I'd assume something was actually wrong and not just that she blew off her ongoing commitments for the afternoon.

Not to mention that, yes, it would be highly irregular and worrisome if the police called you asking after a friend who was otherwise not in the habit of having interactions with law enforcement.
posted by Sara C. at 12:59 PM on December 22, 2014


How does your story change from "I saw her at school but not after, she had to pick up her cousin, and no I didn't arrange to get a ride from her" to "Gee, I have no idea what I did that day at all," over the course of being questioned by the police a few times?

Because of the underlying biology of the human brain and the relationship between short-term and long-term memory formation? We answer the question "What did you do three hours ago" in a fundamentally different way from "what did you do on one specific afternoon last month," and information that was readily available for the first question may have vanished by the time the follow-up comes around, to be replaced by interpolation and guesswork.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:17 PM on December 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


If a cop called me right now and asked me if I knew where someone was who I'd seen within the last day, I would start reconstructing my day and thinking over whether I saw them and what they said and where they were going. Which would probably lead me to be aware of where I was and what I was doing throughout the day.

And if part of what you were doing was driving around looking for weed, hanging out with a guy who your parents would not approve of, let alone interacting with his drug dealing friends, and then talking about a girl that you were not actually supposed to be dating...or meeting for sex in parking lots! Well, you'd have a lot to hide as a teenager and lie about and feel guilty about without murdering anyone.

As a teenager myself with "bad" friends, I lied constantly to avoid trouble or even those annoying tsk-tsks and quiet judgements from other adults and my parents. If you have restrictive parents you might lie reflexively to keep them out of your business as much as possible. Not a surprise to me that he would be evasive in general and focus on the wrong things and then be brought up quite suddenly when all of a sudden the officials are talking about a murder and you're the suspect.

I believe a lot of details about Adnan's more illicit activity have come to light since then because he had to confess all those lies and evasions. However, still, I don't see the evidence that he committed either a crime of passion or a premeditated murder.
posted by amanda at 1:19 PM on December 22, 2014


I thought Adnan's comment on the podcast about regretting being a bad Muslim...because if he had listened to his parents, not been sneaking around doing drugs and seeing girls that he was not allowed to see, and doing all that typical teenager stuff that was forbidden by his parents and by his religion...he wouldn't be in this mess. He wouldn't have associated with this crowd who ultimately pinned this crime on him that he didn't commit.* That rings true to me.

*Not saying he didn't do it.
posted by amanda at 1:24 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


How is it possible that Adnan knew what he did that day enough to give credible information to the police about (his knowledge of) Hae's whereabouts,

This doesn't follow; the two things aren't connected. If you ask me today if I saw somebody today, and then 6 weeks from now what I was doing that day, you aren't asking me the same question. There is no contradiction between saying "I haven't see Hae since school" on 1/13 and "I can't remember what I did that day" sometime in February. I just utterly baffled by this argument.

but not enough to have even the vaguest clue where he was or what he was doing when asked the same question a few weeks later?

Again, you're displaying the frailty of human memory yourself. Vague memories are exactly what he has; school, then track, then driving around for weed. Just like most people, he's saying what "he would have done"; but his story was never "I have no idea about anything whatsoever".
posted by spaltavian at 1:43 PM on December 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Gee, I have no idea what I did that day at all,"

Why do you keep framing his reaction like this? This is not at all what he says he said, or remembered.

Not to mention that, yes, it would be highly irregular and worrisome if the police called you asking after a friend who was otherwise not in the habit of having interactions with law enforcement.

This is also a weird way to frame this. It's worrisome if the cops call to ask me about a friend who might be missing, because then I would worry about the friend. Whether or not they are in the habit of interacting with law enforcement is irrelevant, since that's not why the cops are calling.
posted by rtha at 2:03 PM on December 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


And if part of what you were doing was driving around looking for weed, hanging out with a guy who your parents would not approve of, let alone interacting with his drug dealing friends, and then talking about a girl that you were not actually supposed to be dating...or meeting for sex in parking lots! Well, you'd have a lot to hide as a teenager and lie about and feel guilty about without murdering anyone.

There's a point at which you realize, holy shit, I'm getting sent down for something WAY WORSE than smoking a little weed and dating when my parents don't approve, and you admit to that stuff in order to exonerate yourself from a crime you know you didn't commit. Just sitting back and going to prison for murder doesn't really follow.
posted by Sara C. at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2014


There's a point at which you realize, holy shit, I'm getting sent down for something WAY WORSE than smoking a little weed and dating when my parents don't approve, and you admit to that stuff in order to exonerate yourself from a crime you know you didn't commit. Just sitting back and going to prison for murder doesn't really follow.

That sure is the plot of a lot of crime procedurals. I would argue that if you KNOW you're innocent you don't cop to the other crimes, because it doesn't occur to you how utterly fucked you are when the full weight of the system comes down on you.
posted by edbles at 3:10 PM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


When you get actually legit for real arrested for murder, you admit that, OK, actually what I was doing that day was playing hooky and cruising around with my drug dealer friend and hitting up Nisha to see if she was DTF later. The idea that Adnan has an alibi for that day that is something bad, but not actual murder, seems unlikely. Unless he was secretly in Al Qaeda the whole time or something. Everybody knows smoking weed is less bad than killing someone.
posted by Sara C. at 3:13 PM on December 22, 2014


"Do you know where Hae Min Lee is? Have you seen her today? What were your interactions with her in the last 24 hours?" isn't an entirely separate place in a person's mind from "Where were you and what were you doing over the last day?"

Um. "Have you seen Person X this afternoon" would occupy a COMPLETELY different place in my brain from "We suspect Person X may be dead or kidnapped and you might be involved." Like, nearly opposite places, and representing pretty much the difference between a clear conscience and a guilty one.

Jesus! What kind of friend relationships do you have, Sara C?! If my son went missing and the cops started calling around his friends trying to locate him, I would hope that nailing down an alibi would be the last thing to cross their minds at that time! Otherwise I'd have some serious questions about his friends.
posted by torticat at 3:14 PM on December 22, 2014


Just to be clear, in playing the January 13, 1999 game, I'm not asserting that I or anyone else could have a perfectly clear memory of that day. I agree that memory's a little problematic, though it is still an essential tool. What I was thinking about is that even by reconstructing my "would haves" I can generate a number of trails which, if followed, might produce corroborating documentation or witnesses or other records that could add evidence to fill in my own fuzzy picture of my whereabouts. Assuming he's innocent, it's really unlucky that Adnan doesn't have anyone, other than Asia, or any documentation, like a track practice attendance sheet, to help him out. Memory is one tool - an imperfect one, but certainly one important place to start.

I don't think think it's so crazy what Sara C. is saying about retracing your memories and movements of a day when something weird goes wrong. My brother ran away in high school; I remember having to think back to the last things he did and said and when I saw him, and it certainly bore an emotional charge (not that I was coming up with an alibi, but I certainly had to reconstruct my day in order to remember exactly when it intersected with his day. Also, he came back soon and was fine, but I can remember the pit in my stomach - it's not just another day when someone you care about is missing). I can also recall doing day-reconstructing for really stupid reasons when I was younger, like trying to remember when a picture was taken or dealing with some random, highly charged out of the ordinary event. I guess if folks are saying "Adnan wouldn't have bothered to do this, because it wasn't highly charged for him - her being missing wasn't a big disruptive deal to his mind," that's both something that leans in his favor and shows a cool or cooling interest in Hae.
posted by Miko at 6:50 PM on December 22, 2014


The thing is, there's all this memory research out there, and it's pretty clear that we totally suck at remembering almost everything! We forget unimportant events, we "remember" events that never happened, and we are wildly incorrect in our memories of things that did happen. This is really easily googleable, and there are many articles in the popular science press explaining that we are terrible, terrible rememberers. A few examples:

How could he dispute a memory I would not hesitate to swear on in a court of law, and had never doubted as real? “What do you mean?” I objected. “I can see the bomb in my mind’s eye now, Pa with his pump, and Marcus and David with their buckets of water. How could I see it so clearly if I wasn’t there?” “You never saw it,” Michael repeated. “We were both away at Braefield at the time. But David [our older brother] wrote us a letter about it. A very vivid, dramatic letter. You were enthralled by it.”

Most people have so-called flashbulb memories of where they were and what they were doing when something momentous happened...But as clear and detailed as these memories feel, psychologists find they are surprisingly inaccurate.

...He had demonstrated that the very act of remembering something makes it vulnerable to change.

Perhaps it is the terrible truth that in many cases we are simply not capable of determining what happened, yet are duty-bound to so determine. Maybe this is why we cling to the sanctity of the jury and the secrecy of jury findings...
posted by latkes at 7:13 PM on December 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


Sara C, wasn't Jay known to Hae? They had two friends in common (Adnan and Steph) and went to the same school. Jay killing her wouldn't be the same as getting killed by a stranger.

Also I think that if you were arrested for murder your lawyer would not advise you to make any further statements about your where abouts, especially some story of driving around to engage in some criminal activity like buying drugs. That would be used against you.

Now consider the following: Your ex has extremely protective parents. Your ex has a new SO (e.g. Don) who your ex is clearly in to. You are pursuing someone new (e.g. Nisha). Now the police call you and say your ex is missing and didn't pick up her cousin. If you didn't murder your ex, you may not register it as anything particularly significant. Probably just your ex's crazy parents, overreacting like always. She forgot to pick up her cousin and skipped wrestling which might be unusual, but it is the last semester if high school senioritis is spreading rapidly among your peers. At this point you don't know she is dead or have any reason to think she is in danger. You are maybe annoyed that her parents had the cops call you, cause her parents don't like you.

I submit the only normal behavior for an 18 year old to do after this call is return to the self absorption of adolescence. Anything else would be weird. 5 weeks later when asked to provide details you won't have them.
posted by humanfont at 7:15 PM on December 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


The thing is, there's all this memory research out there, and it's pretty clear that we totally suck at remembering almost everything...

Yes, I have a lot of cognitive science study under my belt and am familiar with the consensus and completely understand about the faultiness of memory. I grant that all that research exists. and I don't think any additional number of comments about the unreliability of memory will add much to that consensus.

Yet we really have on other place to start in reconstructing past events, and memory still is an enormous component of testimony - of all kinds, from Congressional hearings to child custody case to violent crimes. It remains pretty important, even if flawed. And if we throw all individual memory out, we must throw out all the memories that favor the defendant, as well as all the ones that undermine him. If some memory is bad, all memory is bad. And if people are forgetting things that did happen, they are also remembering things that didn't happen. That goes for everyone, not just Adnan and Jay.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on December 22, 2014


Sure. I just think it's weird to read much into Adnan's lack of or minorily inaccurate memories of such a distant event, when he was probably high. It's something, but it's not much of something, given how poor memory is generally.

I am inclined to see him as innocent, so perhaps I'm being influenced by that inclination, but my sense of his innocence doesn't really come from testimony that supports his version of the day's events. I guess I am influenced by what seems to be a near consensus of folks saying he "wasn't that kind of guy". I recognize that can also be wrong.

Whether he killed her not though, I am completely convinced that there was a reasonable doubt as to his guilt, and therefore he should not have been convicted. Hunches just can't be the ethical way to decide these cases. The actual evidence is just so limited!
posted by latkes at 8:03 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


My brother ran away in high school; I remember having to think back to the last things he did and said and when I saw him, and it certainly bore an emotional charge

Let me put it this way: When asked about Hae's whereabouts, Adnan no doubt did go back through the morning in his mind and try to remember what he'd seen of her before school got out. He told the cops about his interactions with her before school ended. He DID do this very normal thing (to the extent that he could while totally stoned), so no problem there.

What I think is weird is the idea that, at that stage, he would have/should have continued going through the rest of his day in his mind, to nail down everything he'd done since the last time he'd seen Hae. If he was innocent, why would it even occur to him to do that? Why would his mind go to foul play? Why would it even cross his mind that his own afternoon activities would have any relevance to where Hae had gone and what she'd done after school? And that was the relevant period, once it came out that Hae had been killed. And by that time, weeks later, it is perfectly understandable that what he'd done during the afternoon--besides the normal routine--would have been lost to clear memory.

And if we throw all individual memory out, we must throw out all the memories that favor the defendant

Fair enough, but in Adnan's case there weren't really any of those either. I don't feel like Adnan really tried to have it both ways. He didn't claim to have specific memory of talking to Asia that day. He said he was pretty sure he did have his phone back in his possession in the early evening (before the burial). He says he typically would have gone to the library, he says he went to track practice, he says he probably would have gone to the mosque that night. It sounds like a pretty typical muddle of maybe-actual-memory-maybe-not, and not particularly self-serving.
posted by torticat at 9:23 PM on December 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Maybe I need to go back and re-listen to all of the episodes, but what always made me feel like Adnan was guilty was that he never seemed reasonably angry at Jay.

Adnan's telling Koenig "I didn't do it" but if that's true, why isn't he using his serious please-listen-to-me voice to say "Jay is LYING--he is a LIAR. Jay got up on the stand and told LIE after LIE after LIE to keep the cops from prosecuting him for drug charges". It seems like Adnan cannot because, at best, Jay was at least as involved as he confessed (if not more).

Also, while the things like the parody done by Funny or Die are amusing, I can't help feel a bit "blegh" about them, as they are playing with something which is itself based on the death of an innocent teenage girl.
posted by blueberry at 10:29 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe I need to go back and re-listen to all of the episodes, but what always made me feel like Adnan was guilty was that he never seemed reasonably angry at Jay.

If he seemed really angry at Jay, it would come off as theatrical and make it obvious that he did it but wants to throw suspicion onto Jay.

Or, maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't feel comfortable inferring guilt or innocence based on how someone acts compares to how we think we would act in their situation. Maybe Adnan is innocent and has gotten over his anger over the 15 years that he's been in jail. Hell, maybe Adnan is guilty and has gotten over his anger. Guilty people don't have a consistent affect distinct from the innocent.

For what it's worth, Adnan was admonished by the court at trial for telling Jay he was "pathetic" when he walked by. Hmm, maybe the fact that Adnan called Jay"pathetic" actually shows that he did it. Wouldn't an innocent man think he was "outrageous" rather than pathetic?
posted by skewed at 11:49 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


This was sort of addressed in the show. First, Adnan is aware that essentially he cannot appear too emotional about something, just as he can't contact people, it might prejudice any sort later motion (such as the ones coming up). Secondly, it has been suggested that over 15 years, Adnan has worked to find peace in his situation, and becoming a more devout Muslim has helped him in this. It makes sense, he knows he is innocent (assuming he is), and he can go crazy, or he can try to resolve himself to accept parts of his situation. I don't know that I could do that, but I understand it.

And finally, stop projecting your own imagined idea of how you would respond to a situation, much less a situation 15 years later and assume that because a person isn't reacting the way that you did that they must be guilty. It's distasteful. I sincerely doubt that most of you are trained interrogators, and between the distance provided by the podcast and 15 years it's a bit like people in Congress diagnosing brain activity in Terri Schiavo in Florida from the floors of Congress.

Sara C., you used to work on a Law and Order program (which sounds like a cool job). But as I'm sure you're aware, it was ripped from the headlines but still fictional. There is rarely a Matlock moment of someone making an obvious slip-up on the stand and confesses out of nowhere under cross. Evidence doesn't just get introduced, and things are a lot messier than you think. I can barely get two sentences out without tripping over my own tongue a lot of times, even if I'm not nervous. The difference between Adnan making a verbal slip-up and Jay's entire testimony being completely unreliable as evidence is vast.
posted by X-Himy at 6:38 AM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Maybe I need to go back and re-listen to all of the episodes, but what always made me feel like Adnan was guilty was that he never seemed reasonably angry at Jay.

Like I said above, if I actually committed a murder and was guilty I would still be mad at the guy who ratted me out.

This is just really poor reasoning.
posted by spaltavian at 6:39 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Again, my issue with Adnan's incarceration is fairly agnostic of his guilt or innocence. It's that for a multitude of reasons displayed on the podcast alone (much less that excellent blog linked upthread), there is so much wrong with this case. IANAL (beyond undergrad classes), but the case as was presented does not appear to rise to required level of proof, defense counsel appears to have made some serious mistakes and was possibly corrupt and/or incompetent, and the deal between Jay and the prosecution is incredibly shady. That's not counting things like the jurors disregarding orders in their consideration, the lack of follow-through in the investigation, the lack of physical evidence (which granted, may have been discovered had a better investigation been carried out), and the straight racism that was at play.

We have to have a jury system that operates on the assumption of innocence, it is the burden of the state to prove guilt.
posted by X-Himy at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Fair enough, but in Adnan's case there weren't really any of those either. I don't feel like Adnan really tried to have it both ways. He didn't claim to have specific memory of talking to Asia that day.

Nope, I get that, but it makes Asia's testimony meaningless. It doesn't matter if she thinks she saw him that day. Her memory is faulty as anyone's, and her memory, and the letter about it, are useless pieces of the general noise. As are the memories offered by Jenn and Don and Josh and everyone else, about the day itself, the phone booth, Hae being at the wrestling match, the ride from school, etc. If you believe memory is totally useless, then we're chumps for wasting our effort trying to understand any of these incidents or reconcile any of the storylines to one another, inasmuch as none point to documentary evidence (the validity of which can also be challenged, but that's another debate).

The vacuum of information about the Jay/Adnan relationship is explainable, to me, by Jay's taking a police deal. Nobody can comment without upsetting that apple cart.

In fact, if my hunch is correct that Jay and Adnan were, at the very least, involved somehow in Hae's death, and Jay was worked by the cops to achieve some other goal like getting their hands on another big drug dealer/murderer or providing evidence in some large-scale property crime, then the reason we'll never know for sure has nothing to do with the faultiness of memory or the essential unknowability of the past or any of these big metaphysical things SK (and we) like to ruminate about. The reason is simply because that's the way the system is used -the knowledge about what happened is real and unequivocal, but is locked in the vault of police operational knowledge. And that frustrates me, because it makes the entire a show a theatrical exercise rather than an exploration of information with any hope of achieving real understanding or arriving at new knowledge. The knowledge is likely there, just totally unavaible. The police's strategy, whatever it was, totally worked (assuming they got something useful from Jay). From their point of view, this is the system working.
posted by Miko at 7:43 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nope, I get that, but it makes Asia's testimony meaningless. It doesn't matter if she thinks she saw him that day. Her memory is faulty as anyone's, and her memory, and the letter about it, are useless pieces of the general noise. As are the memories offered by Jenn and Don and Josh and everyone else, about the day itself, the phone booth, the wresting match

No, that doesn't follow. We can evaluate which people are likely to have accurate memories and which parts of their memories are likely to be accurate. Where I agreed with you was that, sure, if Adnan's memory is muddled or non-existent, we can't take exculpatory parts and leave the rest. I never said memory as a whole is "meaningless"; that would be silly.

FWIW of the people/things you mentioned, I don't put a lot of stock in the Asia story; I don't give Jenn a lot of credence because she was all over the map and her testimony was contradicted at key points by the cell phone record; I tend to believe Don but not so much the part about how he figured out his whole day, a couple hours after Hae went missing, because he knew he'd be a "suspect" (I mean, whatever, but I doubt he really thought that at the time); I don't believe we can really know about the phone booth, so much contradictory testimony as to be meaningless. I DO give some credence to the testimony of the two girls who were at the wrestling match, because they actually had a stake in Hae's whereabouts that afternoon and good reason to remember it.

As for Jay, he gets credit for nothing except for his knowledge of where the car was. The rest needs to be constructed from other evidence, because his testimony too contradicted itself, changed according to the detectives' needs, and also is refuted by the cell phone record.

I don't think Adnan's defenders put all that much stock in his "memories" either, per se. It's more like, okay, this would have been his normal routine, so let's see if there is evidence to either support that he followed it or suggest he deviated from it. That, combined with acceptance that it's not incriminating that he wouldn't have specific memories, which is what this whole conversation has been about--that's pretty much where Adnan's supporters start from.
posted by torticat at 9:27 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


then the reason we'll never know for sure has nothing to do with the faultiness of memory or the essential unknowability of the past or any of these big metaphysical things SK (and we) like to ruminate about. The reason is simply because that's the way the system is used -the knowledge about what happened is real and unequivocal, but is locked in the vault of police operational knowledge

My impression was that she did present the fact that the two hours (? I don't remember the period clearly) where Jay spoke to the police before his testimony went on record were highly significant, in her opinion and that of a professional. I don't think she shied away from any of the real, concrete reasons justice wasn't served in this situation-- in fact, I think they were part of her ruminations on unknowability and "metaphysics." I mean, Kafka made some pretty good efforts in this area. The state and police process are pretty intangible at times.

I didn't feel the show was a theatrical exercise at all, I thought it was a thorough exploration of the various issues that emerge both in a criminal trial and when investigating one. It was engrossing and educational.

I'm also getting lost in this discussion about memory, but I think torticat explained that well.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:33 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean, Kafka made some pretty good efforts in this area.

Ha... yeah. (My son just wrote his final English paper on The Trial so this is fresh in my mind.)

I don't think she shied away from any of the real, concrete reasons justice wasn't served in this situation-- in fact, I think they were part of her ruminations on unknowability and "metaphysics."

I agree this was covered pretty well. The part about the police pre-interview was one of the most disheartening parts of the series: "Trainum says the answers we want probably live in those unrecorded pre-interview hours. A black hole of crucial information."

(That was in episode 8; I'm getting my quotes from the reddit transcripts.)
posted by torticat at 9:49 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


What's Next for the "Serial" Investigation

From the UVA Law Innocence Project
posted by readery at 12:21 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sarah Koenig on Fresh Air
posted by stoneweaver at 12:27 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have some frustrations with Serial.

I was uncomfortable with the lack of consideration for the victim, Hae, and her family. I understand that SK made efforts to contact the family beforehand, and I recognize that she did not anticipate that Serial would become as popular as it did. I also understand that pathos for the victim was not really the focus of the podcast. SK admits that she had no concrete idea of where the podcast was going. But in finding her way through the story, I think SK largely lost sight of who is really at the heart of it. Providing Adnan, Hae's potential murderer, and his team of undoubtedly well-meaning loved ones and supporters, with a soapbox to explain Adnan’s innocence and the injustice that befell him struck me as premature, if not ethically questionable. Unless SK knows more than she was able to say on the air (perhaps for legal reasons), I was surprised that the story proceeded in this way. Perhaps it did so because Adnan was the only central character who would talk to SK at any length. I cannot speak for Hae's family, but I don't imagine they would be enthusiastic about this podcast after listening to it in its entirety.

Adnan, unlike Jay or Hae’s family, generated ample content for Serial. This in itself creates bias without hearing more fully from the other sides of the story. The opposing side for SK, I suppose, is the state’s case that put Adnan away. And viewed in that light, Serial did a good job at pointing to the shortcomings of the investigation and the flaws of the trial process that ultimately led to the guilty verdict. However, in pursuing this narrative, I found that SK seemed to conflate ex post facto reasonable doubt with the spectre of a “wrongful conviction” — that the state put away a factually innocent person.

Looking back on the evidence now, it may seem wrongful that Adnan was convicted in the circumstances. (Couldn’t the police have collected more physical evidence? Couldn’t the state have led a more rigorous and circumspect prosecution? Couldn’t the defence have done x, y, or z?) But do these legal doubts after the fact point to Adnan’s factual innocence? If not, is it in the public interest to re-open Hae’s tragic murder “on the fly”, with no concrete sense of where the story is going, and speculate about these doubts? Is it right to proceed only with the present narrative of Adnan, but not the present counter-narratives of, for example, Jay, Hae’s family, or the detectives, in effectively relitigating this case?

It’s one thing to say that the adduced evidence (or the lack thereof) gives rise, in SK's mind, to a reasonable doubt after the fact. It is quite another to say that the person currently behind bars for the crime is factually innocent. In the final episode, SK committed herself to the former proposition but would not "swear" to the latter. I think I would be more on board with the structure and tone of the show (and the total absence of Hae in it) if SK was relatively convinced of the latter before proceeding with her reportage. There were clearly problems with the prosecution of Adnan. But I also think that pointing a magnifying glass on many criminal trials would reveal a similar coarseness in criminal justice. It is not the ideal that we are taught in school or that we see on most televisions shows. Serial demonstrates how the justice system, Adnan’s case included, could do a lot more to reach that ideal. But was Hae’s story the right one upon which that point can be made?

Perhaps my opinion is colored by my own view of the evidence. For me, it all comes down to Jay. He was key to the state's case and he remains key to the question of Adnan's factual guilt or innocence. The problem, as Serial highlighted, is that he was a terrible witness. However, I think there is some confusion as to Jay’s lack of reliability versus his lack of credibility. Jay would not be credible, if, for example, he omitted or made up details to limit his involvement. He would not be credible if he made up the entire story to frame Adnan. Jay would be unreliable if he was too stoned to remember the timeline of events. No doubt, Jay had both credibility and reliability issues. But I think he had more of the latter than the former. I think that was the point of the prosecution’s opening. The jurors that SK interviewed were also left with the impression that Jay was credible.

SK, however, often says, “Jay is lying” when referring to his inconsistencies — but that’s not necessarily true. It’s difficult to parse out the credibility issues from the reliability issues. Some of his inconsistencies do seem very bizarre and problematic, but I think the totality of the evidence, including Jay’s testimony, is too interconnected to think that his versions of events was fed by the police, as some have alluded to. Or that something much more nefarious was going on such that Jay was making it all up. I am persuaded that Jay was indeed able to provide independently corroborated information to the police — information that he almost certainly could not have knowledge of unless he was involved.

This leaves the question of whether Adnan was involved as well. Again, I think the evidence, considered as a whole, suggests that he was: the note, no real alibi, witnesses say he asked Hae for a ride, “Cathy” says he was over at her house with Jay between the probable time of the murder and the stated time of the burial, Adnan's cell phone pinging from Leakin Park at the stated time of the burial, etc. People seem to forget the detail about Cathy's house, but it's very important. Cathy independently corroborates a circumstantial web of evidence largely constructed from the confused testimony of Jay, a very stoned teenager. There’s also Jenn, who placed Adnan and Jay together later that evening. Two independent witnesses place Adnan and Jay together on the same day of the murder, after the time that it most likely took place.

In my view, the converse to the big picture of the state’s case — that Adnan was not at all involved in the murder — is simply too speculative of an inference to draw from the totality of the evidence. It requires an inference that Jay (and perhaps Jenn) framed Adnan in a most spectacular set-up. Serial leaves that inference unstated, hanging in the air. But the inference is implicit in throughout the podcast. As Jay said himself, “look, lady, if he didn't do it, then who did?”
posted by ageispolis at 1:02 PM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


ageispolis, what an excellent and thoughtful comment! To reply to just a couple bits of it:

It’s one thing to say that the adduced evidence (or the lack thereof) gives rise, in SK's mind, to a reasonable doubt after the fact. It is quite another to say that the person currently behind bars for the crime is factually innocent.

I agree, and I asked a question about this earlier with regard to the Innocence Project.

However, from everything I've seen, the folks at IP genuinely seem to think there's reason to believe Adnan may be innocent, not just that he could perhaps be let off on a technicality, including even so large a "technicality" as reasonable doubt. For what that's worth.

Jay would not be credible, if, for example, he omitted or made up details to limit his involvement.

It is beyond question (again for what it's worth), I think, that he omitted AND made up details to limit his involvement. As far as the detectives' involvement goes, I don't buy the idea that they fed him the location of the car. However, it seems pretty clear that they guided his testimony to fit the story they wanted to hear.
posted by torticat at 2:19 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


YOu're mistaken if you think this podcast was about Hae's murder. It was about Adnan's conviction.

Yes, I know that without Hae's murder, there is no conviction, but the focus of the show wasn't "Who killed Hae?" but "Was Adnan unfairly convicted?" Unsure of that point? Then tell me how this was brought to the staff's attention. It was submitted by Rabia, a friend of Adnan's family. Those interested in who killed Hae already figure Adnan did it; that question has been, to them, answered. But to those who feel Adnan did not do it and that there was a wrongful conviction... well, the podcast clearly answers the question: whether he did it or not, Adnan was convicted through poor application of the law.

And let's also not forget this point (which was repeatedly stated by various lawyers and investigators): it's not the point of the law is to uncover the truth of what happened.
posted by grubi at 2:22 PM on December 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


But do these legal doubts after the fact point to Adnan’s factual innocence? If not, is it in the public interest to re-open Hae’s tragic murder “on the fly”, with no concrete sense of where the story is going, and speculate about these doubts?

The problem with even asking this question is, it completely ignores how our system of justice is supposed to work. We don't convict based on "probably did it". Trials do not result in a choice between guilty and innocent; they result in a choice between guilty and not guilty. That may seem like splitting hairs, but it's the fundamental basis of how our society seeks justice.

And ultimately, if you're angry or unsettled about the fact that Hae's family may be negatively affected by this case being looked at again, it's not the fault of Serial, or anyone in the press. The people who are responsible are the police, and the prosecutors. If they had done their job correctly, and if they had convicted Adnan with a case that held up to any scrutiny, there would be no cause for this re-evaluation. It's only because they did such a piss-poor job of it, and because they convicted a man (guilty or not) with a ludicrous case, that these wounds are now being reopened for the victim's family.

That's very sad for the family, but it is always in the public interest to investigate malfeasance within the police and the justice system.
posted by tocts at 2:58 PM on December 23, 2014 [28 favorites]


That is a very good point.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 4:08 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


If a cop called me right now and asked me if I knew where someone was who I'd seen within the last day, I would start reconstructing my day and thinking over whether I saw them and what they said and where they were going. Which would probably lead me to be aware of where I was and what I was doing throughout the day.

Are you a teenager and stoned out of your head, though?

More importantly, are you actually in the moment rather than perceiving an event as part of a chain of incidents within a larger narrative? I think most everyone talking about Serial, most people in this thread included, make the mistake of judging these past actions from their privileged perspective of the future.

We may not feel very privileged since we're still sitting here and still questioning WTF we even really know (see: Jay and the car's location) but we're still doing it from the position of all the water having passed under the bridge, even if we can't see most of it anymore since it's gotten all the way to the sea by now. And the same is true of all the actors who were in those moments at the time. Adnan and Jay, in particular, will never be able to talk to you about things now without having had them all hashed out in painful detail in court - twice, for some of it.

So when someone says something now they do so from a completely tained place, where they may have knowledge from any number of other places and have integrated it, consciously or not, into their minds. And when one of us looks back at a reaction and are credulous we should be particularly conscious to think of how those trees look when you're standing next to them, rather than looking back towards the forest from this hill.
posted by phearlez at 5:08 PM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


posted by stoneweaver: Sarah Koenig on Fresh Air

Thanks for the link, stoneweaver. From the interview: "On whether [SK] worried people treated the podcast like entertainment rather than investigative reporting" — SK cites the executive producer: "We need to treat [it] with the utmost professionalism and care. ... They're interacting with it as entertainment."

Really? The informal, personal narrative voice? The cliffhangers? The music? Reporting on the case weekly before having a grasp of all of the evidence? I think it's odd to point fingers at your audience for interacting with the podcast as entertainment when it's packaged and presented as such.

posted by grubi: YOu're mistaken if you think this podcast was about Hae's murder. It was about Adnan's conviction.

I don’t think those two stories can be so easily separated.
posted by ageispolis at 9:23 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


posted by grubi: You're mistaken if you think this podcast was about Hae's murder. It was about Adnan's conviction.

posted by ageispolis: I don’t think those two stories can be so easily separated.

Especially since much if not most of the podcast was dedicated to accumulating new evidence about what actually transpired. SK didn't just consider the case as it was presented to the jury.
posted by painquale at 6:50 AM on December 24, 2014


YOu're mistaken if you think this podcast was about Hae's murder. It was about Adnan's conviction.

I don’t think those two stories can be so easily separated.


I don't think anyone is saying they're separate, but saying that Hae was "really at the heart of it" isn't quite accurate either. Hae's murder was the triggering event, but the podcast focused on Adnan and the investigation and the trial to a much higher degree.
posted by Etrigan at 7:31 AM on December 24, 2014


But if Don killed Hae, how did Jay know where Hae's car was?

Any theory other than Jay, Adnan or both did it has to contend with this problem, which explains the popularity on the internet of the idea that the cops found the car and coerced Jay into his whole part in the crime. Because if Jay really knew where the car was, all the narratives that don't involve Adnan become very implausible.


According to a contemporary news broadcast, the cops did know where the car was before Jay told them.

"Police now reveal that 18-year-old Hae Min Lee died of strangulation, and that they discovered her 1998 Nissan Sentra a short distance from where her killer attempted to bury her body in a shallow grave in Leakin Park, key details they had withheld as they sought out a suspect." ---from a news broadcast Feb. 28, 1999

I think it's certainly possible the cops coached Jay, knowingly or inadvertently, into the knowledge of where the car was. In which case we know nothing, and it could very well be a 3rd party. I'm hopeful the DNA evidence turns up something, because otherwise I think we're (or at least I am) stuck in complete uncertainty.

But boy, others have already said words to this effect, but I still can't believe that after listening to the whole podcast some people here are still willing to put a lot of trust in months-old memories, subjective impressions of the accused's affect, and 'gotcha' moments in slips of the tongue. My takeaways are from the podcast are the exact opposite: memory is slippery, eyewitness testimony can be coached and is fundamentally unreliable, and the accused may act and speak in ways that I find surprising for an innocent man.

To judge from what some have said about where they derived these criteria for determining guilt and innocence, it seems to me that "Law and Order" type shows have served us badly in supporting these mistaken beliefs and making us poorer potential jurors.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:11 AM on December 24, 2014 [23 favorites]


People who enjoyed the investigative aspects of Serial should check out Criminal, where the episodes are not multi-part but which cover different aspects of the crime world. Of particular interest might be the second episode which is about ascertaining whether someone is telling the truth.

It's very very interesting on its own - and makes me think of how inadequate so many of our interview procedures are, and how ill-served juries are by not having insight into HOW suspects are interviewed - but I think it's very on point for the above linked article about looking at Jay's testimony.
posted by phearlez at 9:32 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know if anyone has referenced the Dierdre Enright (of the Innocence Project) interview in Time Magazine, but this exchange stood out there:
You were recorded on the podcast saying that there was always sex involved with Moore’s alleged crimes. Was there evidence of that here?

What we know is that Hae had her clothes on, although I know her shirt and bra had been moved up. And her skirt was on but pushed up. As far as I can tell from the lab reports, they definitely did a physical evidence recovery kit where they did anal and vaginal swabs and swabs in her mouth, but they never tested any of that—which is somewhat odd. There were hairs on her body, two of which were microscopically compared to Adnan, and he was excluded and they didn’t belong to her either. Then there was this rope near her body.
posted by readery at 9:48 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Our attitude towards physical evidence in this country is kind of insane. I'm partly sympathetic since it's not like this works such that we shove collected information into a box and it spits out facts. We have to look at it with some goals in mind. But it's hard not to see this as part and parcel with the untested rape kit problem that never seem to go away. Why do we collect this stuff and not do some examination and classification?

I wonder sometimes if the adversarial system is something whose time has passed. The link above to the episode of Criminal about interviewing and detecting falsehood shows the challenge of determining if someone is telling the truth. But the techniques they discuss... I can't see any way they work in a court of law, particularly in front of a jury. Even if you can get people to accept them, which they are reluctant to do since they want to trust their biases not statistics.

Similarly these bundles of collected evidence don't get tested because the people collecting them don't need to or don't want to, and they're done on the dime of the group of people who have a definitive Side when it comes to dispensing justice.

Then, finally, our system is set up to be completely disinterested in facts later on. The main reason the IP rep tells SK to look at the big picture is because the deck is stacked against folks once the conviction is handed down. It seems flat-out batshit insane to me that we can have any defense of a situation where the final disposition might not be The Truth, but as high up as the Supremes we've had statements that so long as everything was done according to the pre-defined rules of the system it's totally cool if we execute someone who might not actually be guilty of the crime.

That's just nuts, and morally wrong. It may be that it's working overall but I'm of the bleeding heart bent that any number of mistaken convictions are unacceptable.
posted by phearlez at 10:49 AM on December 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


posted by Etrigan: I don't think anyone is saying they're separate, but saying that Hae was "really at the heart of it" isn't quite accurate either. Hae's murder was the triggering event, but the podcast focused on Adnan and the investigation and the trial to a much higher degree.

My point is normative, not descriptive. The podcast indeed focused on Adnan. SK had Adnan’s cooperation, and Serial proceeded with his story, his voice, week after week. SK was not successful in obtaining the cooperation of others (e.g.: Jay, Hae’s family, the detectives). The show effectively re-litigated the state’s against Adnan in their absence.

Had there been cogent evidence pointing to Adnan’s factual innocence beforehand, I would have been more comfortable with the structure and format of making the show all about Adnan. But the whole method of Serial was to proceed without a concrete idea of where it was heading, what it would find, how it would end. The first episode of Serial ended with this letter from Asia:
Hae was our friend, too. And it sucks feeling like you don't know who really killed your friend. Hae was the sweetest person ever. If he didn't kill Hae, we owe it to him to try to make that clear. And if he did kill her, then we need to put this to rest. I just hope that Adnan isn't some sick bastard just trying to manipulate his way out of jail.
SK said that she wrote back the following: "Believe me, I'm on exactly the same page” (cue theme music).

This is what, in part, made Serial entertaining, and what also made it problematic and susceptible to failure. SK did not find what Asia (or Rabia) was hoping for. What we are left with instead is SK’s opinion of reasonable doubt after the fact. We are left SK saying that she cannot be sure of Adnan’s innocence, but that “most of the time I think he didn’t do it.” By necessary implication, Jay is now treated with public suspicion as a potential murderer.

Whether you are okay with this or not depends on your own view of the case. But that view was formed through a podcast that proceeded without at first knowing the answers to its own questions, largely as a plot device in the interests of entertainment. That view was formed through 12 brief episodes hearing primarily from SK and Adnan, two reasonable-sounding and likeable individuals. We did not hear from the other individuals who have a stake in this very public narrative that was formed.
posted by ageispolis at 11:50 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


The episodic nature of the show created the illusion that everything was learned real time. However a careful listen indicates that the investigation started more than a year before the first episode aired. There was evidence that Adnan might of been wrongly convicted before SK got involved. SK got evidence from Rabia. This evidence was compelling enough for her to decide to investigate. The UVA innocence project got involved last semester, before the first episode aired.

The show took pains to protect the privacy of those involved who might be suspects in the mind of the audience. Don, Jay, and Jenn's last names were not used, even though these names are in the public record. The only other suspect who was named is dead. The Enright says that the innocence project has identified several other suspects who may have been with Jay on the day of the crime.
posted by humanfont at 12:24 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Police now reveal that 18-year-old Hae Min Lee died of strangulation, and that they discovered her 1998 Nissan Sentra a short distance from where her killer attempted to bury her body in a shallow grave in Leakin Park, key details they had withheld as they sought out a suspect." ---from a news broadcast Feb. 28, 1999

Does this really seem like a smoking gun for the police-coercion theory of Jay's knowledge about the car? It sounds more like a gloss on the facts of a case that wasn't a big deal to the reporter. I guess it's consistent with the cops at first admitting that they discovered the car themselves, but then trying to keep quiet about it. Except that by the time they gave out this info, they had already supposedly gotten the information from Jay, so it would be something they'd be trying to keep quiet about. It could be a really incompetent cover-up, but it could also be a reporter who listened to a police officer go over the general details once, wrote down bulletpoint notes and got confused. The latter seems much, much more likely. The reporter didn't even get the pronunciation of Hae's name right, doesn't seem to be a major investigation here.
posted by skewed at 1:04 PM on December 24, 2014


largely as a plot device in the interests of entertainment.

I Have A Problem with this dismissal of certain topics as not okay because something is "just entertainment." Only the most immediate of situations passes a rigorous test of people needing to know more, and that includes a lot of government operation. You could maybe come up with a definition of news that allows for all this but you'd have a long and rambling item full of exceptions and with limits on who its okay to consume it.

If we allow for a more reasonable and open definition that accepts that there's value in people knowing how their justice system works and how their fellow citizens encounter it then we have to allow for there being utility for something like Serial even if it's simultaneously engaging.

Given that, the reality is that this exposure and discussion of things in the justice system are a price we all have to pay in order to be a part of it and for it to have a transparency that helps us believe it serves us well. Hae's family may not be pleased to have this re-litigated in public but it's not a slam-dunk that it's somehow unfair to them just because people find it interesting.
posted by phearlez at 2:10 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Except that by the time they gave out this info, they had already supposedly gotten the information from Jay, so it would be something they'd be trying to keep quiet about.

I agree, it's most likely just sloppy reporting. I mean the car WAS only a short distance from the burial site (I think a 4 minute drive?), so that's accurate. It's just the implication that the police had had that information longer than a day or two before the report that's probably wrong.
posted by torticat at 4:50 PM on December 24, 2014


SK was not successful in obtaining the cooperation of others (e.g.: Jay, Hae’s family, the detectives). The show effectively re-litigated the state’s against Adnan in their absence.

...and in the absence of another key person, Stephanie.

Of all the people who wouldn't talk to SK, Stephanie is the one I'm most curious about. Because she and Adnan were supposedly very close friends, but she apparently supported Jay during the trial. Did she believe that Adnan was guilty?

And she played almost no role on the day of Hae's disappearance, according to testimony, so she should be a somewhat independent witness (or at least more so than Jenn).

And what was the deal with Jay's claiming that Adnan was threatening he would hurt Stephanie? How could that be a plausible threat when Stephanie was such a good friend of Adnan's?
posted by torticat at 4:58 PM on December 24, 2014


Vice chimes on a gap in Sk's reporting Tldr the cell phone tower ping data is very unreliable. Courts have begun to reject this information as evidence.

There is a part of this story where the more established physical evidence like possible DNA, hair and fiber evidence was not processed while investigators relied on the new cool technique of cell tower pings. A technique that would later be a bit like the phrenology as far as its investigative utility.
posted by humanfont at 1:00 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]




My deep thoughts: Jay needs a lawyer. Probably starting yesterday.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:25 PM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wow, that's a hell of an interview. Why, oh why, would he talk to anyone about this now? The only motivation for doing the interview the story offers is "Jay feels strongly that he was unfairly depicted by Koenig". He got away with accessory to murder, nothing he's going to say now is going to help. But here he is with his full name, a photo, and yet another version of events. Really unwise to say anything to anyone now.
posted by Nelson at 1:37 PM on December 29, 2014


I really hope that in part 2, the interviewer follows up on some of the answers given that don't jive with what was said previously (especially the testimony under oath).
posted by sparklemotion at 1:51 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am not sure what the hell to make about the new Jay interview. I don't know anything about the author or publication or how the hell they got him to open up.

I'm not saying I 100% believe Jy, but this did at least did fill in a (potential) gap for me about why he was terrified of the cops. He does a good job setting the scene in terms of the war on drugs and the racial tension. It help us understand why he was reluctant to talk to them, why his story seemed to change, and how Adnan's threat to expose his illicit activities would be very scary.

I'm a little confused on Jay saying that a week before Hae's death Adnan was talking about her like they were still together. All other accounts indicate that they were well broken up by then. Hell, Adnan had *met* Don and had a civil interaction with him.

Also very curious as to how the rest of the interview goes. Is she going to ask him tough questions? I want to hear what he says about his state-funded lawyer.
posted by radioamy at 1:52 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


this did at least did fill in a (potential) gap for me about why he was terrified of the cops

Sure, but this goes both ways. It gives plausibility to the notion that Adnan tried to threaten turning him in to keep him from testifying. It also gives plausibility to the notion that Jay had every reason to tell the cops what they wanted to hear, if it meant they would let him slide on his own illegal activities.

In general, add me to the list of people baffled by why he spoke now, and why he gave yet another story. One wonders about the statute of limitations on drug dealing and perjury.
posted by tocts at 2:32 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jay's constantly changing story reeks, and he'd probably better get a lawyer before all that physical evidence gets tested in 2015...
posted by palomar at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2014


tocts, yes, that is very true. Either way though it does give context to the level of illegal activities that Jay was participating in and the perceived threat by the authorities.
posted by radioamy at 2:49 PM on December 29, 2014


Yeah, how did he both have no idea what Hae's car looked like, and lead the cops to Hae's car?
posted by ChuraChura at 7:02 PM on December 29, 2014


Wow, is that weird. He strikes me as someone who has incredibly little self awareness. Just coming forward like this, without speaking to an attorney, relating a different story than he gave under oath... just wow.
posted by readery at 7:18 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, how did he both have no idea what Hae's car looked like, and lead the cops to Hae's car?

I think this is totally normal and not catching Jay in a contradiction. He said he didn't know what Hae's car looked like yet, at that point early in the day so he wouldn't have noticed it at the Best Buy. Later in the night, after seeing a dead body in the trunk, digging a hole in the park, and moving the cars, he knew what it looked like and the location where they ditched it. He's not going to forget what it looked like after that.

For example, let's say I happened to eat at the same restaurant as my brother's boss last night. My brother asks if I saw him there. I say, I don't know, I've never met your boss, don't know what he looks like. So he shows me a picture of his boss. Because he was a stranger to me then, I wouldn't remember him unless there was something very unusual about him. I wouldn't be able to remember if he sat at the table next to me or at the bar, because I wasn't looking for him. My memory can't recreate the face of every person at the restaurant after the fact and remember seeing him or not even though I know what he looks like now. But after I know what his boss looks like, I'll recognize him the next time we're out at the same place.

For me, this doesn't rank on the list of suspicious things Jay has claimed.
posted by peeedro at 7:53 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


The thing I'm most confused about is how close of "friends" Jay and Adnan were. Here Jay says they only hung out a few times. I am pretty sure Adnan said about the same thing, although Adnan was closer friends with Stephanie, right? Maybe I'm just forgetting what it's like to be a teenager, but I can't imagine letting someone who I barely knew drive my car and borrow my brand new cell phone.
posted by radioamy at 8:45 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or asking them to help you bury a body in the woods.
posted by Etrigan at 8:47 PM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm also suspect of Jay because he's giving this interview *after* Serial was over. Obviously he listened to the whole thing. It'd be pretty easy for him to shape his "memory" of the incident and Adnan to corroborate or refute specific parts of SK's narrative.
posted by radioamy at 8:48 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


It'd be pretty easy for him to shape his "memory" of the incident and Adnan to corroborate or refute specific parts of SK's narrative.

Yeah, but he almost certainly didn't do that. His new story isn't just inconsistent with his previous testimony: it's inconsistent with the cell towers, the phone records, all of SK's posited narratives, and pretty much everything else on the podcast. I'm not sure he even listened to the podcast.

I do find his interview fairly compelling though. More compelling than most... Jay's really getting destroyed all over the internet for this new interview and its inconsistencies. But that's by internet detectives who are really intolerant of inconsistencies and think it means he's a sloppy liar. Jay's new account is almost certainly not what actually happened, but it might be how he genuinely remembers it. He's clearly a storyteller; he'll have warped details in his mind. If Adnan gets the benefit of the doubt for not being able to remember exactly what happened many years back, so does Jay.
posted by painquale at 9:56 PM on December 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


In the interview Jay would like us to accept that his testimony in two trials was a lie to protect his close friends and family, but we should believe this new version.
posted by humanfont at 11:07 PM on December 29, 2014


I don't think it's an impossible request on his part. He clearly felt threatened at the time, and he doesn't seem to feel threatened any more. He voluntarily offered this interview. That's some reason to think his past testimony would be tainted but his present wouldn't be.
posted by painquale at 11:28 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the interview Jay would like us to accept that his testimony in two trials was a lie to protect his close friends and family, but we should believe this new version.

Why does that seem implausible? He's no longer testifying pursuant to a plea bargain, he's (presumably) no longer dealing drugs out of his grandmother's house, he's got nothing to be afraid of at this point.
posted by skewed at 11:50 PM on December 29, 2014


"Sure, I was lying all those other times, including when I was under oath and it put someone away. But I was only doing it to protect myself. Now I'm telling the truth!"
posted by X-Himy at 3:19 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Serial Podcast: The Possible Legal Implications of Jay's Interview for Jay & Adnan

from one of the many blogs that people have related to the case. And I got to say, I find the extraneous reading fascinating, like the View from LL2 blog. I work at law firms and am a paralegal and CPA so my knowledge is on the financial end of things, but I am so interested. Also I manage law firms, and when I was an independent contractor I did accounting for solo practitioner attorneys like CG, and the constant requests for money are definitely a thing. Attorneys that work in small firms and do criminal work are always having to act as collectors because once the court case is over with their ability to collect diminishes greatly. So that demand for $10,000 rang true for me. It's ugly, but I've seen it.
posted by readery at 7:37 AM on December 30, 2014


I can't imagine letting someone who I barely knew drive my car and borrow my brand new cell phone.

Unless you vaguely know this guy who is into criminal activity, and you know you're planning to kill your girlfriend, and you're looking for a plausible scapegoat.

I've thought Adnan was innocent all along until reading that interview with Jay. His story sounds plausible told first-hand, and I've never really gone through the thought process of wondering why Adnan gave him his car. It doesn't make sense at all if Adnan didn't kill Hae. But it does kind of make sense if he did.
posted by something something at 8:09 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


That always was something I took into consideration too when assessing who to believe. But sometime in the last week I read a transcript, not sure if a court of one of the police interview transcript where Jay was asked about borrowing cars and there were a few people whose cars he borrowed regularly, most often Stephanie's. He borrowed cars from his friends that were still in high school during the day when they were in school. I don't know if he gave them weed or whatever in return, but it was a thing. Because it was Stephanie's birthday, he didn't or couldn't use Stephanie's car. So he asked Adnan. In this interview I'm pretty sure he said he ASKED Adnan and also offered that the phone was just left in the car so he used it. If I wasn't at work. I'd dig for that because that puts an entirely different spin on everything.
Might have been on Rabia's blog
posted by readery at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry, "create a witness to the murder" does not sound like a plausible plan; that doesn't make any kind of sense. Seriously, how does that even work- Jay isn't implicated because he rode around in Adnan's car, he's implicated because he knows the details of the murder and burial.

If Adnan did it, his plan was not "I'm going to prove I committed a murder so if you go to the cops, I'll say you did it and hope none of the evidence actually implicates me".

Even no plan at all- I won't show you, you won't go to the cops, and I hope none of the evidence actually implicates me- in a billion times better.
posted by spaltavian at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


The idea that teens are not sensible about lending out the high-ticket, desirable items they paid little or nothing to get doesn't strike me as at all surprising.
posted by phearlez at 9:41 AM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


True, but the idea that teens are just as cavalier in choosing partners in/helping out with disposing of a body is, well, unsupported.

Jay is saying in this interview he and Adnan were not friends. That's a hell of a solid for an acquaintance.
posted by spaltavian at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was wholly unfamiliar with this publication so I looked at the about page. The Intercept is the new publication from Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Not that that has any bearing on this interview, but it at least lends weight to a relatively unknown publication (or am I totally out of it and everyone had heard of The Intercept?)
posted by radioamy at 12:36 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


You murder your ex-girlfreind and then go to your drug dealer's stash / grandma's house, pop the trunk show him the body and then demand that he help you dispose of the body or you will tell the cops about his drug family's drug business. This is Jay's latest explanation.
posted by humanfont at 1:13 PM on December 30, 2014


If Jay gets charged with perjury and this all ends with both Adnan and Jay in prison, I'm going to be really upset. I've often thought that the podcast was lightly irresponsible, but now for the first time I'm worried that it could be disastrous.
posted by painquale at 1:52 PM on December 30, 2014




If Jay gets charged with perjury

Why would prosecutors go after their star witness with a perjury charge? Practically speaking, how would that work?

I've often thought that the podcast was lightly irresponsible, but now for the first time I'm worried that it could be disastrous.

I think the most disastrous scenario is if Jay's most recent story is the truth, Adnan's appeal goes through, and the state declines to re-prosecute because Jay's statements are now too many and disparate, and they're not comfortable putting him in front of a jury. In other words, Jay finally tells the truth about what happens and in turn frees a murderer. Would make for a hell of a story.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:10 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't know how it would work. I was really just responding to all of reddit baying for his blood and claiming that he's now on the hook for perjury. (You said upthread that he should probably lawyer up. What do you think the legal threat to him is?)

Thanks for posting part 2!
posted by painquale at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2014


I think he needs a lawyer because he has nothing to gain from doing what he's doing, and a lot to lose. While I doubt he's putting himself at risk of going to prison, I do think he's putting himself at risk of seeing the inside of a courtroom again. And I doubt he wants that.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:26 PM on December 30, 2014


In Part 2 Jay talks more about why he's doing the interview now. "I’m trying to clear my name. I’m worried for the safety of my family. I think the truth is important, and I’m trying to tell it–not for entertainment value." I still think it's foolish for him to be talking, but for a guy who buried a murdered teenager he comes out sounding pretty good here in Part 2. Also he's clearly doing everything he can to make Sarah Koenig look like a villain which, fair enough, in his world she probably is. A little surprised The Intercept and Natasha Vargas-Cooper are going along with it.
posted by Nelson at 2:30 PM on December 30, 2014


Part 2 is pretty powerful. He comes out a lot more sympathetic when describing how his life has changed recently than when describing what happened on the day of the murder.
posted by painquale at 2:31 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think that Koenig gave Jay through the course of Serial as much benefit of the doubt and leeway as is possible given his meandering statements and testimony. I still want to know who Jay is afraid of. He and his wife for years have tried to keep their location on the downlow. Why? Is it Rabia? Adnan's family? Or is there a 3rd party? Crooked cops? Other drug dealers?

I find him a very compelling person. You get the sense that he's all on his own. As a teenager and as an adult. I feel he's made many choices in life without guidance. I do hope he has a lawyer now.
posted by amanda at 3:14 PM on December 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


I find him a very compelling person. You get the sense that he's all on his own. As a teenager and as an adult. I feel he's made many choices in life without guidance. I do hope he has a lawyer now.

I agree -- this is well put.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:29 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't quite get exactly how Jay thinks he was misrepresented in the podcast. The worst thing that Koenig says about him is that the specifics of his story to the police changed frequently, which he openly admits to during the interview. Was she supposed to leave that part out? His main beef seems to be that she put the podcast into the world at all.
posted by The Gooch at 4:23 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


You said upthread that he should probably lawyer up. What do you think the legal threat to him is?

Well, for me, there's the language of his plea agreement, specifically the part about truthful testimony... seems like all the changes to his story might have an impact on that, but I'm not a lawyer, so maybe they're letting perjury slide now. Who knows.
posted by palomar at 4:31 PM on December 30, 2014


I don't quite get exactly how Jay thinks he was misrepresented in the podcast.

If we are to believe Jay and he was basically threatened by Adnan and afraid of the cops, but otherwise he was innocent...well yeah he was pretty much vilified in Serial. I mean there was an entire episode called "The Deal With Jay."

That said, I'm not sure why so much attention was focused on how SK represented herself - podcast vs radio, TAL vs Serial. Most people don't even know what a podcast is, and Serial is not only an offshoot of TAL it was aired *on* the show. I am sure the whole encounter between Jay and Julie & Sarah was super awkward for all parties but I don't think she misrepresented herself.
posted by radioamy at 4:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


If we are to believe Jay and he was basically threatened by Adnan and afraid of the cops, but otherwise he was innocent...well yeah he was pretty much vilified in Serial.

I really don't think he was vilified by Serial, so much as by his own actions. Nothing in this latest interview contradicts what Serial put forth; in fact, he more or less confirms that his testimony was all over the place, and that at trial he wasn't telling the truth.

I mentioned in previous comment that if there's anyone who should be taking the blame for the fallout of Serial's investigation, it's the police and the prosecution. Jay's statements now are the heart of how badly they screwed over the public good. Jay may in fact have a true story to tell that proves Adnan's guilt, but it's for damned sure that's not the story he told on the witness stand. That should have been plain as day to the prosecution, but they were more interested in a conviction than the truth. Now, all we're left with is Jay telling us that sure, he lied before, but he had reasons, and this time he's really telling the truth.

In all likelihood, any hope of proving what really happened died the moment the prosecution decided to proceed with Jay as their star witness.
posted by tocts at 5:28 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


If we are to believe Jay and he was basically threatened by Adnan and afraid of the cops, but otherwise he was innocent...well yeah he was pretty much vilified in Serial.

I'm not even sure that's totally accurate since the "Jay only agreed to help Adnan bury the body after Adnan threatened him" theory was presented on the podcast, if not agreed upon as definitively accurate.
posted by The Gooch at 5:37 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, this "Mr. B" pleading the 5th during the Grand Jury -- wth is up with that?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:44 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't see how he gets dinged for purgury. Aside from the observation made above that there's little reason for the state to go after their star witness, there's the fact that he can always just assert he was lying to the reporter. It's not like he's under oath or even speaking to law enforcement here.

As far as him needing a lawyer, eh. A lawyer is going to tell him not to talk, which he's clearly not willing to refrain from. He may as well save his money rather than pay for advise he's unwilling to take.
posted by phearlez at 5:45 PM on December 30, 2014


Well, for me, there's the language of his plea agreement, specifically the part about truthful testimony... seems like all the changes to his story might have an impact on that, but I'm not a lawyer, so maybe they're letting perjury slide now. Who knows.

I would have thought that the statute of limitations was long past, but apparently, for perjury in Mayland, there isn't one. But prosecuting Jay for perjury means Adnan's conviction is more likely to be overturned, so there's basically zero chance of that happening.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:07 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think a possible perjury charge is the least of his concerns. The innocence project and an army of internet fans are working to chase down leads and prove Adnan's innocence. If Adnan is innocent, then someone else has to be guilty and Jay is the lead suspect.
posted by humanfont at 10:39 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


If Adnan is innocent, then someone else has to be guilty and... maybe it's that someone that Jay is afraid of.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:15 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]




Here's How the Intercept Landed Serial's Star Witness for His First Interview

Interesting nugget at the end: “Well, it might get even better,” Ms. Vargas-Cooper said tantalizingly. “It hasn’t been 100% confirmed, but I do have like two more interviews of people who refused to speak with Sarah who are very big players. … It looks like the prosecutor is going to talk to me and he said he wants to talk about the questions that he would have asked Adnan had he taken the stand.”
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:23 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vargas Cooper said this in that article:
like in The Wire, which all of the delightful white liberals who are creaming over This American Life also adore and cherish.
WTF?
posted by humanfont at 8:20 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


She's been taking MetaFilter sneering lessons, it seems.
posted by phearlez at 8:25 AM on December 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


There is so much WTF in that Vargas-Cooper/Intercept article. Not the least of which is the photo.

Also...
“Well, it might get even better,” Ms. Vargas-Cooper said tantalizingly. “It hasn’t been 100% confirmed, but I do have like two more interviews of people who refused to speak with Sarah who are very big players.

If "journalists" start dragging out every story Serial-like as the next new "20 Ways to Combat Holiday Depression" told in a 24-page slideshow (with 4 pages of ads) paradigm I will...just...flames...flames, on the side of my face...flames....
posted by amanda at 8:26 AM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is my favorite part of that article actually:
"....If I were to come to you at The Observer and say I want to write about a case and I don’t have the star witness, I don’t have the victim’s family, I don’t have the detectives, I don’t think you would run it, you know.”

I told Ms. Vargas-Cooper that I absolutely would, assuming I was persuaded that all efforts to get those people had been made. And I am pretty persuaded of that in the case of Serial.
Yes. There are ways to do journalism even in the face of difficulties and I aver that Koenig did good journalism here.
posted by amanda at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


Also, no, I would not like to give the prosecution team an effective veto on any article about their potential misconduct, thanks.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:50 AM on December 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


'Jay' should have stuck to the things he knew definitively (according to him): Adnan showed up at his grandmother's house with Hae's body in the truck and they went and buried her.
Which is a horrific story.
But he should have just left it at that.

Reading the 'legal' interpretations one is struck by how different legal and narrative realities are. Adnan, as he mentions himself, is operating according to the legal universe (which is narratively unsatisfying), while Jay is playing to a narrative universe and which seems like maybe it will screw him/via perjury.

And I have to wonder what the innocence project thinks of Jay's story? And or Jay's testimony?
posted by From Bklyn at 9:19 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


And I have to wonder what the innocence project thinks of Jay's story?

One thing I didn't really realize before this podcast is that there are separate, sort of "franchises" of the IP. And Dierdre's group seems very much of the "we are just looking to get people out of jail" variety. So, free story idea: two teenagers involved in committing a murder together. The testimony of one gets the other sent to prison. An IP group comes in, springs the guy in jail. Prosecutors need somebody to go to jail, so the other guy takes the fall. A new IP group takes his case, and gets him out by uncovering new evidence clearly implicating the first guy. Hey, it could happen!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:30 AM on December 31, 2014


So, free story idea: two teenagers involved in committing a murder together. The testimony of one gets the other sent to prison. An IP group comes in, springs the guy in jail. Prosecutors need somebody to go to jail, so the other guy takes the fall. A new IP group takes his case, and gets him out by uncovering new evidence clearly implicating the first guy.

My google-fu is failing me, but I think there was a case kinda like that. If I remember correctly, one of the Innocence Projects was accused of getting their guy free by badgering a third party into confessing, and then it turned out that the third party was also innocent. I feel like I read about the story on the part of the internet that believes that the IP is not a net good in the world and I don't want to venture that far into that part of the internet again.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:22 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed, please pretend that this is a fun part of the site for discussing media.]
posted by cortex at 12:34 PM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I had fun using the word "fetid"!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:38 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


In fairness, "hey it could happen" if all the convictions consistently fudge reality to wrongly subvert determination of reasonable doubt. I'm agnostic about Adnan's guilt but IMNSHO it's impossible to think the state truly overcame reasonable doubt in this case. That's the standard the IP is obsessed with and I wager there's some degree of thought within their group that it's worth the risk of freeing the guilty who never the less weren't properly convicted. It's why I imagine they're largely uninterested in Jay's recent interview unless it opens up avenues for appeal.
posted by phearlez at 1:08 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


"According to Ms. Vargas-Cooper, Sarah Koenig had tried to interview Jay’s lawyer, Esther “Anne” Benaroya, and “it was kind of disastrous.”

Is this the same lawyer that the prosecution provided to him?
posted by radioamy at 1:51 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think so? Reddit says yes, for whatever that's worth.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:25 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sarah Koenig had tried to interview Jay’s lawyer, Esther “Anne” Benaroya, and “it was kind of disastrous.”

Yeah it was mentioned in the podcast--in the context that SK asked her if it was true that the prosecutor introduced her to Jay in his office, and Benaroya said it "could not possibly have happened that way." I wonder in what ways the interview was "disastrous."
posted by torticat at 3:02 PM on December 31, 2014


I wonder in what ways the interview was "disastrous."

Um right? I think it was only "disastrous" for the lawyer in that it made her look really fucking shady.
posted by radioamy at 3:24 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


According to Jay's interview on the day of the murder he bought a small bracelet for Stephanie's birthday. The police report of the search of Hae's car includes an empty gift box for a charm bracelet.
posted by humanfont at 3:46 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


there are separate, sort of "franchises" of the IP. And Dierdre's group seems very much of the "we are just looking to get people out of jail" variety.

Just wondering, (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates, what gave you that impression?

There was some discussion of this upthread. I was sort of listening during the podcast and definitely looking while reading the transcripts, to get an idea of where Enright's group stood on this. It seemed to me they were NOT just about looking to get people out of jail.

For one thing, here is Enright during Ep 7 talking about which cases they take and which ones they don't:
'So, it goes every different way, right? Sometimes we start down the road and very quickly we talk to four witnesses, all of whom say “no, it was absolutely him,” they have no reason to lie. We quickly realize, okay, we’re being had here.'

And then second, in the final episode when SK did a follow-up with the IP folks, she asked them if any of them thought Adnan was guilty (talking about actual guilt not whether or not it was wrongful conviction) and they ALL said "no."
posted by torticat at 4:01 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


And then second, in the final episode when SK did a follow-up with the IP folks

Have to correct myself on that, the followup I was thinking of was still back in the seventh episode. And the team did talk about "reasonable doubt" and so on, so that was part of the exchange, but they also said they thought he was not in fact guilty.
posted by torticat at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2014


Jay bought the bracelet at the same mall where Hae was expecting to drop off a note on Don's car or perhaps leave for him at work. Except Don was at another store that day.
posted by humanfont at 6:37 PM on December 31, 2014


I came to serial late, and main-lined all episodes over 8 hours, and then consumed everything I could find online related to the case. I apologise if I am repeating things brought up in earlier threads. My only coherent theories and questions.

- I think the police were convinced of Adnan's guilt the second they saw the cell phone records. Specifically the calls that seemed to put him in the area of Leakin Park where Hae's body was found, on the night Hae went missing. I don't believe the cell tower records prove anything of the sort, but I think the police believed them, and as the ex-boyfriend is a likely suspect they latched onto Adnan and disregarded all evidence that didn't fit the theory. Which included leaning on Jay hard as he was the best witness they had to Adnan's movements that day.
- Jay is terrified of someone. I am willing to bet one of my kidneys that whatever drugs he was involved in procuring that day were a hell of a lot harder than pot.
- Where the hell is Stephanie in all this? Her birthday is used by both Adnan and Jay as the reason Jay had Adnan's car and phone. But seemingly the only person in Baltimore not called that day from Adnan's mobile was her. Then she drops Adnan cold but turns up in court to support the guy who at the very least has copped to being an accessory in Hae's death. Eh?
- The people crowing over Adnan's supposed slip up with "only I know" should be having a field day over Jay's statements. He repeatedly fucks up third and first person over where he saw the body and who did what. "I did this" gets corrected to "Adnan does this". The only take away from this for me is that the tricks of the English language are at best very unreliable guide to the truth, psychological or otherwise.
- My heart just breaks for Hae, and her family. And I feel faintly ill in my ghoulish obsession in their tragedy. Sorry :(

I was really fascinated by Serial, and the questions it raised about the nature of truth, and memory.
posted by arha at 4:20 AM on January 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


I highly recommend the Observer interview with Vargas Cooper. Some points that made me think:

[My interview] demonstrated that Jay’s a pretty smart guy. He’s a human being and I don’t think there was any way for him to have known that not giving an interview to a journalist would result in huge segment of the population speculating that he committed the murder.

I’ve reported on a case that involved a friend of mine who was murdered when I was 17. Getting teenagers to testify and testify accurately is a nightmare because they’re afraid of everything. Their parents, their friends, the cops, and we were pretty well-to-do kids.
posted by Miko at 11:21 AM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


The final part of the interview with Jay is mostly about his experience with Serial. He's had people videotaping him, he lost his job and he blames the podcast for demonizing him (though he hasn't read the transcripts, I think).

He's coming across as very unsympathetic in the interview, in a way he didn't in the podcast.
posted by jeather at 1:21 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's coming across as very unsympathetic in the interview, in a way he didn't in the podcast.

I am kind of amazed that anyone could think that he didn't come across as unsympathetic in the podcast.
posted by Etrigan at 1:36 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jay Speaks Part 3
posted by Nelson at 1:47 PM on January 1, 2015


He's coming across as very unsympathetic in the interview, in a way he didn't in the podcast.


Having read lots of comments about the interviews both here and on reddit (wow, metafilter discussion is so much better than reddit), this seems to be a pretty common reaction, maybe the vast majority reaction? It makes me feel strange then to have almost the opposite reaction, Jay's interview really made me feel bad for him, and made me more lean much further toward the idea that Adnan is guilty. I'm not saying my reaction is the right one, it just makes me feel . . . weird.

Jay admits to a pretty dispicable act, and it's possible that there are worse things that he's not admitting to, but his explanation of why he lied sounds extremely plausible to me. Before the interview I thought that Adnan probably did it, but that there was tremendous room for doubt. I'm still open to the possibility that Adnan didn't do it, but at this point I think I'd struggle to either acquit or convict him if I were a juror.
posted by skewed at 1:51 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I haven't read part 3 yet, but I did not think he was portrayed as unsympathetic. I thought his story had the same duality as Adnan's. And after SK and her producer came out of the interview with them, they were pretty shaken up about it.
posted by bq at 1:57 PM on January 1, 2015


Curiously, reading the third part (of the 'Jay') interview, I decided I didn't believe anything he said about anything. Not that he's a malicious liar, just that he has no relationship with 'truth' - or maybe just that his version of truth bears scant relationship to my version.
I also felt really bad for his family, having this stress dumped on it: though, again, he should be able to say 'that was ages ago, I've learned from my mistakes and moved on.' And ... Well he just doesn't seem (now I embark on the fools errand that has occupied so many) like he's moved on - and if not in how he feels about it himself, then how he deals with it publicly ... See? It's stupid to even guess. But I can't help it - he reminds me of people I've known, people who couldn't just stick to the oh so boring truth to save their lives.
Ugh.
I did think SK came out seeming really fair and honest, mind you. Maybe it was that, Jay's reactions to her emails struck me as not at all reflective of what I'd read in them.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:08 PM on January 1, 2015


Seems like a lot of blaming other people. I don't think Internet jr detectives harassing him is remotely okay, but this accusing SK and Serial of "leaking" court documents (nothing is sealed in this case, right? The only impediment to getting these is some effort and copying fees I would assume) seems... Bitchy? I don't know I have a single word for it. You helped hide a body and shield a murderer and never did a lick of time for it. I believe in redemption but this seems like a fifteen year stretch of everything being other people's fault.
posted by phearlez at 5:27 PM on January 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


(though he hasn't read the transcripts, I think).

In the interviews, he says that he has read them, though he has not listened to the show audio.

He's coming across as very unsympathetic in the interview, in a way he didn't in the podcast.

Count me as another who feels exactly the opposite. I find his narrative fairly convincing and feel for the character it describes, caught between worlds, with very real things to fear. It wouldn't make his role in the crime less disgusting, but it provides an answer to a lot of questions about motives and involvement that does add up, which is a lot more than I can say for where Serial left us.

he should be able to say 'that was ages ago, I've learned from my mistakes and moved on.' And ... Well he just doesn't seem (now I embark on the fools errand that has occupied so many) like he's moved on

Jay says,

I know that I was a criminal, and I know that even after this happened, I didn’t have an occupation. I mean, I kept doing my job of criminal shit. But I’m past all that now. I made a good home for my wife and kids....the mistakes I’ve made are on me and not on my family. And there’s a part of me that just wants to break away from them and live in the bushes or the Appalachian mountains, so they can be safe.

I'm also somewhat swayed by the fact that Jay (unlike Adnan) has absolutely zero to gain from speaking publicly at this point. Absolutely nothing.
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jay (unlike Adnan) has absolutely zero to gain from speaking publicly at this point.

Assuming he's telling the truth, he has to gain exactly what he said he has to gain, and it's far from nothing:
I’m trying to clear my name. I’m worried for the safety of my family. I think the truth is important, and I’m trying to tell it

Also I don't think he said he'd read the transcripts. He said his wife had told him about them. She's not an unbiased observer (having her own and his and the children's safety to worry about). Also she's apparently done a lot of reading on Reddit. So she could well have, and could have given Jay, a skewed idea of what SK actually reported about Jay on the podcast.

Because his perspective on that is WAY off. I don't doubt that the public interest in the story has been oppressive and felt threatening to Jay and his family. But SK is not actually responsible for a bunch of internet sleuths deciding to take the story and run with it in totally inappropriate ways.
posted by torticat at 9:25 PM on January 1, 2015


Jay seems freaked out about having been discovered by SK and freaked out that others from back home might hurt him. Back as a teenager, he was scared of some mysterious figure in a white van. Upon testifying, he got an incredibly generous plea deal from the state for someone who helped bury a body. All of this screams to me that Jay's plea deal didn't involve him just ratting out Adnan: he ratted out his suppliers or some other dealers.

The biggest lacuna in SK's reporting, I think, has to do with the drug culture at Woodlawn and how the Baltimore Police force at the time treated minorities on drugs. SK presented the teens' drug use as if it were like a bunch of white suburbanites hotboxing a car, but I think that's naive. Jail was a serious possible result of drug use for minority kids in Baltimore, so the kids surely conceptualized drug use differently and took it more seriously. And all of the Woodlawn kids did drugs. Jay was a dealer; Jen was arrested for dealing; someone on Reddit verified as being a Woodlawn student from that time even claimed that Hae was a smalltime pusher of weed to her friends.

I don't think that drugs had anything to do directly with the murder, but they do fill in a lot of gaps. They explain why Jay was so freaked out when working with the cops. But more importantly, they hint at the relationship that Adnan and Jay once had. Both Adnan and Jay say they weren't really friends, and this makes it totally mysterious why Adnan would ask Jay to help bury the body (as Jay claims). But their claims are belied by a lot of evidence, including pictures of the two of them together. I suspect that they had a closer "professional" enterprise than either can let on. Adnan approached Jay to help with the body because they were already compatriots in some criminal dealings (even if it was just that Jay was supplying Adnan with dimebags to sell to his friends). Adnan thought of Jay as a tough-guy partner in crime. Maybe this is off-base... but it's one of the only narratives that seems plausible to me. I cannot help but think that SK did really not sufficiently explore the drug culture angle.

I worry that, in the end, Jay will become the tragic figure in all of this. On what I think is the most plausible account: Jay was a blustery liar into small-time drug crimes, but he suddenly found himself in over his head with a murder... and this was partly because his bluster made him seem more criminal than he actually was. He wanted to back out and wanted to do the right thing, but it involved putting himself in a terrible position between cops and dealers. He did so anyway and navigated the minefield as best he could. Happily, things ended up OK for him in the end. Until Serial.
posted by painquale at 12:45 AM on January 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I feel for Jay -- having internet detectives harass him is horrible -- but I thought, listening to him on the podcast, that he seemed a sympathetic and understandable character, and now I think he's still understandable but sort of an ass who is suddenly in a shitty position.
posted by jeather at 5:26 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that what The Internet is doing to Jay and his family is really gross, and I feel bad for them and I understand how the Wilds family could be angry about having this all come up again.

But it seems like Jay and his wife really have a problem with SK and are trying to make her and the Serial crew into the bad guys, but they are really failing there. First, the completely baseless accusations of "leaking" court documents -- why would SK do that? And then publishing SK's emails as if they were some kind of damning evidence when really it just shows that (at least in writing) SK seemed to act respectfully, if maybe a little transparently desperate to get an interview.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:00 AM on January 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Jay interview read to me like he thought he was in some kind of witness protection program. Not an actual program but he seemed to think that moving to a new state gave him a clean slate, which I think is human nature.

This is just the beginning. I think lots of people will come forward, especially if money is offered. There have been so many people mentioned tangentially, there is quite a cast of characters.
posted by readery at 7:23 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


he has to gain exactly what he said he has to gain, and it's far from nothing:

There was never a realistic chance that he would gain a clear name or secure safety for his family by coming forward. Quite the opposite. Definitely, his speaking now has made it much worse. He really stands only to lose. No, he might not have predicted that, but his choice to be interviewed was probably ill-advised. Either way, his talking now was a risk that I don't think one would take if one's story were far off the mark, which was my core point.

You're right; he said his wife read the transcript and told him about them. My mistake.

However, he doesn't seem to misunderstand or misconstrue anything about the show, from my point of view. SK definitely categorized Jay as both suspicious and unreliable. Not that he wasn't and isn't those things in truth, but the show's framing and choices about portrayal certainly supported that reading. Contrasting the portrayal of Adnan and that of Jay is interesting, even without including Adnan's direct interviews. Actually, I think a textual analysis, maybe looking at nouns and adjectives describing each person, could be a very interesting exercise.

he ratted out his suppliers or some other dealers.

I completely agree that this is likely what happened and what the non-taped police discussions he had at the time of his confession were about - I personally suspected that before these interviews came out and they do seem to lend support to that. No one today who was directly involved with the Hae murder is likely to seek revenge on him or his family, but someone in some other sector of the crime world possibly could.

I cannot help but think that SK did really not sufficiently explore the drug culture angle.

Agreed. Also, even if Adnan was not involved in selling drugs with Jay, I certainly think she (and maybe many listeners) are naive to be puzzled by the ways in which people who are admittedly "not close friends" could spend so much time with one another. Where drugs are involved, there are simply a lot of transactional relationships that involve collaborating and spending time together and cementing a mutually trusting dealer--buyer relationship. Even in my own observations I have seen these not-friendships multiple times. That alone seems screamingly obvious; no need to waste time wondering whether they were what we would call genuine "friends" or not. I also think she didn't deal closely enough with the racial politics of drug supply and the unequal justice meted out for possession and other drug crimes.

I would really like to have a follow-up episode dedicated to the meta-discussion of how Serial was reacted to online and the real-world ripples of online detectiving. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the whole phenomenon. I am reminded of the brief self-examination of internet detective squad folks who mistakenly fingered Sunil Trapathi for the Boston marathon bombing. What is new about this kind of reporting is the ease with which untrained legions of the curious can try to further the story themselves, and I think it would be interesting to talk about the impacts of that and what is triggering people to react in that way to particular stories.
posted by Miko at 9:46 AM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I cannot help but think that SK did really not sufficiently explore the drug culture angle.

I would wager good money that she sufficiently explored the angle. Whether she sufficiently reported on it is a matter of argument. I'd also wager she reported on it to us as much as she could reasonably do, given the constraints of potential libel issues. Adnan and Jay are probably mostly incapable of being libeled in an actionable way. Adnan is a convicted murderer. Jay is an admitted conspirator, and you can't be sued for libel for reporting anything in government documents, including court filings.

Beyond that, though, there be dragons. Speculating about criminal actions and conspiracy is libel per se, and probably nobody in this qualifies as a public figure beyond Jay and Adnan at best. So the bar is lower as far as standards of protection for the speaker and speculation is inherently, admittedly unproven.

And on top of all of that there's the question of it being distasteful to speculate about petty drug crimes committed by the dead. You can't really libel the dead, legally, but Serial already was walking a line in the opinion of a lot of people about making "entertainment" out of a painful issue for Hae's family. I don't think it's at all doubtful they'd have caught a lot less slack if they started talking about her petty crimes. Ot not so petty, depending on your attitude about drugs.

All that said, I think there is certainly some question of how eyes-open SK was about the drug use in general. So much of all the various questionable memories is explained by "they were fucking high as shit" and that never got a huge amount of play on the show, by my perception.
posted by phearlez at 11:10 AM on January 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


The biggest lacuna in SK's reporting, I think, has to do with the drug culture at Woodlawn and how the Baltimore Police force at the time treated minorities on drugs. SK presented the teens' drug use as if it were like a bunch of white suburbanites hotboxing a car, but I think that's naive. Jail was a serious possible result of drug use for minority kids in Baltimore, so the kids surely conceptualized drug use differently and took it more seriously.

Well said.
posted by radioamy at 12:31 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Actually, I think a textual analysis, maybe looking at nouns and adjectives describing each person, could be a very interesting exercise.

I totally agree. I think that if you looked at all that on paper, you'd find that SK was ambivalent about both of them and treated each pretty fairly, all things considered. I think the sense of imbalance came from hearing Adnan's voice so much and rarely hearing Jay's (both of them sound plausible when you hear them speak for themselves).

But I could be wrong about that, and it would be really interesting to line up everything SK said about each of them.
posted by torticat at 12:43 PM on January 2, 2015


Perhaps Pineapple Express said it best: "You ever dealt with a drug dealer? It's terrible, it's weird, it's awkward. They think they're your friend, but they're not."
posted by bq at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I just started playing around with looking at the text. I don't have the time to get serious, but purely from the textual angle, you have two very different representations. It's a little tricky to do, because sometimes SK lets others do describing while other times she does it, and sometimes she sets up a characterization only to challenge it; however, I included everything in my texxt dump, because she ultimately made the choices about what to include. A more contextual process would help. But I do think it would absolutely be worth tackling the full series and looking at the language itself.

I looked at E1 first: When we first meet Adnan in E1, we hear about him because SK presents these descriptors:

Hae's ex-boyfriend
they believe he's innocent
the community's golden child
honor roll student, volunteer EMT
on the football team
a star runner on the track team
homecoming king
led prayers at the mosque
somebody who was going to do something really big.
not just a good kid, but an especially good kid-- smart, kind, goofy, handsome.
when he was arrested for murder, so many people who know him were stunned
an incredibly likable and well-liked kid
giant brown eyes like a dairy cow
Could someone who looks like that really strangle his girlfriend?


When we meet Jay a little later in E1, we hear these descriptors:

a friend of Adnan's
in school together since middle school
weren't super close, but they had mutual friends
sold weed
he and Adnan smoked together
story Jay told police had problems, because it kept changing from telling to telling
had graduated from school the year before and was working
the picture Jay drew, it's cold


That's not a lot of discussion of him, so I skipped to E8, "The Deal with Jay," - even the title sort of identifies him as a center of inquiry, implying there are questions about what his "deal" is. As SK puts it: "What I mean is, “what did you make of Jay?” Which, of course, is code for “what am I supposed to make of Jay?” It's interesting how differently she frames this discussion from the one introducing Adnan. Here are descriptors SK presents.

streetwise
got around in the neighborhoods
able to take care of himself
that friend if you got in trouble you would call
handsome...tall and thin
alert, polite, civil
probably comes off as a nice young man
testimony is almost poetic
jury found [him] believable, or believable enough
statements to police had shifted over time...am I wrong to be hung up on that?
he knows everything we want to know, every questions we’ve had for the past eight months
a treasure chest of answers that we’ve been looking for this whole time
tall and skinny and exhausted looking
A beer in his hand
very forceful
tired and wary
very sweet and tired
about to hit something, but in a more frustrated, understandable way
skeptical of us and of our motives
a range of opinions about whether he was a good guy or not a good guy
a weirdo
if he was at my house and my mom came home and he left, she’d be like, “who’s that and why is he here?”
didn’t look like the other kids at school and he also didn’t act like the other kids at school
loved animals, once bought a giant rat eating frog,loved the outdoors. Fishing, hiking, swimming, rode BMX
played lacrosse for Christ’s sake (?!)
wasn’t the type to put in a ton of training in, wasn’t a jock
more of a stoner
didn’t seem to care whether he fit in
seemed very honest with who he was
beautifully unconventional
mean, or intimidating
"shady"
you wouldn't want to push him
if you cross Jay, he’d come after you
thuggish vibe was just a pose, something put on to seem tough
would move heaven and earth if it came to protecting Stephanie
has a reputation for lying
had a reputation for being scary, but not scary-scary
intelligent, inquisitive, sweet, goofy guy, beautifully unconventional


I used a meh-quality online text analyzer to compare some words from each episode, E1 and E8:

In E1, the word innocent occurs 5 times, ranking 280. In E8 the word does not occur.
In E1 the word normal occurs three times, ranking 412. In E8 the word does not occur.
Unconventional: E1, 0 times; E8, 2 times, 485
Handsome: E1, 2 times, 559; E8, 1 time, 831
Guilty: E1, 4 times, 341; E8, 3 times, 365
Goofy: E1, 1 time, 1345; E8, 2 times, 563
Shady: E1, 0 times; E8, 1 time, 642
Lie/Lying: E1, 6 times, 377; E8, 16 times, 135
Truth: E1, 5 times, 259; E8, 12 times, 144
Credibility: E1, 0 times; E8, 1 time, 699
Suspicious/suspicion: E1, 1 time, 1383; E8, 2 times, 613
Believe/believes: E1, 4 times, 410; E8, 6 times, 211
Bullshit: E1, 0 times; E8, 2 times, 561
Murder: Eq, 8 times, 108; E8 10 times, 130
Crime: E1, 4 times, 343; E8 5 times, 234

I think this isn't the best basis for discussion at the moment because there are 10 other episodes that should be inventoried, and more rigorously than I did by someone who knows what they're doing, before conclusions are drawn - especially the one which explores Adnan's character and the questions about his jealousy and temperament, which might shift the balance of descriptions of him. But it is interesting, and what I did even with the comparison of E1 and E8 is enough to convince me that SK's portrayal and sequencing and framing are not indifferent or neutral. For the record, I also don't think they're libelous, but I can understand Jay's agita completely. He does not receive the kind of introduction Adnan did, nor the same benefit of the doubt. It really is problematic to tell a story where you can draw only one set of sources (Adnan and his advocates) so thoroughly, while the other side refuses to play along.

Also, I had forgotten this, but Chris' interview with Koenig in Episode 8 includes this: "Chris said Jay told Adnan he wanted nothing to do with it but Adnan forced him, told him he was in it now, he was an accessory and he knew Jay couldn’t go to the cops because of his own illegal activities so Jay was stuck. He helped bury the body. " Which is basically the account Jay gives in this recent interview. The other two close friends of Jay who talk about him say, interestingly, they didn't think he'd see Adnan as threatening. If we take Jay's new interview and read between the lines that he informed on some other drug dealers or criminals, then that settles out: Jay wasn't afraid of what Adnan would do, he was afraid of what Adnan would put into motion but others would do.

This has all really changed my view of the whole story. I still think Adnan's conviction was bad because of lack of evidence and incompetence and irregularity, but Jay's account, if you assume the drug activity was serious and that he helped the police, does have strong logic.
posted by Miko at 2:46 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


For the record, I also don't think they're libelous, but I can understand Jay's agita completely. He does not receive the kind of introduction Adnan did, nor the same benefit of the doubt.

Other than the part where he's not in prison and never did a day, of course. Snarky, I know, but I really do wonder - do you ever have a right or reasonable expectation to put participation in this sort of thing in your past? I don't know. Obviously the powers that be felt that he was helpful enough and what he did to cooperate outweighed any need to repent or do time. Is that the same as what we culturally should do? Does being a part of letting a family wonder for weeks what happened to their daughter create some karmic load? Did he buy this continued examination by his choices to deceive even as he cooperated?

I'm not sure how I would answer those questions honestly. I know my gut reaction isn't to feel all that bad for him. I'm not entirely sure why.
posted by phearlez at 7:35 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really hope the physical evidence is tested and it provides some clarity.
posted by humanfont at 7:46 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


To be fair, I don't remember much speculations about whether Jay is a PSYCHOPATHOOGIEBOOGIE
posted by bq at 8:48 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


do you ever have a right or reasonable expectation to put participation in this sort of thing in your past?

In the grand scheme, I think the answer is no. There is a public interest and the events are a matter of public record. I generally stand up for the idea that public, journalistic inquiry is a pillar of a free society and there should be no expectation of never having attention shed on cases one was involved in once they're closed.

Some of this opinion is colored by personal experience that makes me look at Serial maybe differently than some others. A person in my family is a journalist, and was involved in opening a reinvestigation of a nearly 20-year-old hate crime that resulted in the deaths (murders) of several men. The people who committed the crime were not discovered at the time of the deaths, and had continued to live in the same area where the crime took place, but over the years there were some drunken semi-confessions that indicated their probable guilt, and these were leaked to the press by individuals who knew the criminal. My family member and an entire team of journalists worked intensely for (as I recall) about a year to unearth the old trial documents, reconstruct events, develop other sources, etc., and eventually produced enough evidence for the FBI to reopen the investigation, which resulted in a federal court trial, one conviction, and one acquittal (of someone who was almost certainly guilty but exploited holes in the record).

This happened many years ago now. But the experience of watching this slowly unfold and understanding the amount of work it took to procure any justice for the victims definitely colors my understanding of all such crimes-in-the-past stories. It's the root of my assertion that, despite its flaws, memory is quite important to investigation and testimony and the entire process of securing convictions, and the root of my belief that there's no reason to expect that just because the authorities moved on and the public lost interest, that attention might not fall on you again some time in the future when new evidence or new interest surfaces. There's nothing wrong with that - in fact, it's the very reason procedures exist for reopening investigations in capital crimes. I see few ethical problems with this aspect of the journalism of Serial - they are by no means the first to do this sort of thing. Print and broadcast journalists have been doing it ever since there has been print and broadcast journalism. The only real difference is that this particular incident became a pop phenomenon among internet geeks, instead of yet another true crime show on cable TV, causing a new sector of the public to think about the implications of the system's structure and the role of public information and journalism in society.

I can feel for Jay (and I do feel for his 'exhaustion' and misery that a set of incredibly stupid and cold-blooded acts he may have done as a teenager growing up with little support has had this defining power in his subsequent life, as well as his anxiety for the family he built while working to live peacefully) at the same time that I can recognize that experiences like his are an unavoidable characteristic of the justice system.

To be fair, I don't remember much speculations about whether Jay is a PSYCHOPATHOOGIEBOOGIE

No, that's true. And I didn't go back and listen to the episode where that was more thoroughly discussed, nor the ones where we learn about the negative elements of his character. But at the same time, I see two ameliorating factors: 1) she sets up the question of sociopathy only to trace her process of pretty much rejecting the possibility, and 2) the very premise of her examination is flawed. The question of sociopathy emerges because SK is trying to resolve the fact that she plainly likes Adnan (as do others) with a conception of him as a murderer. In nominating sociopathy as a plausible explanation for this, she's operating from the pop culture-derived sense that sociopathy must be the only reason someone can be both likable and a murderer. But that premise is pretty much garbage. People are not one-dimensional, and they can do terrible things in extremis, and many many violent criminals are likable without being psychiatrically diagnosable as sociopaths. I agree that she's "not that lucky" to have her guy be one of the population's relatively few sociopaths, but it's not true that that fact in any way contributes to exonerating Adnan. I think she's just making a massive category error there. She sets up a logical argument: Likable people do not commit murder unless they're sociopaths. It's statistically unlikely that Adnan is a sociopath. Therefore, it's statistically unlikely that Adnan did not commit murder. But her first premise is flawed. Plenty of non-sociopathic, otherwise likable people do commit murder, regularly.

In fact, she's a veteran reporter, and that's something that's so puzzling: normally a veteran crime reporter would know this. I continue to be disturbed by her attachment to Adnan and how deeply that influences her portrayal.

And finally, even though she raises questions about Adnan's character at times, it's not the introductory framing. Imagine how different it would be had the first episode presented the "two Adnans" concept - the golden child vs. the vengeful, striving, controlling boyfriend. She didn't make that choice, though she pretty much never gives Jay a positive introduction. From the time we are introduced to Jay as an individual we get the ambiguous characterizations listed above. We can say "well, Jay should have talked to her," but I can understand why he would reject the idea out of hand. After all, he could have had no advance understanding of the nature of the project - unlike Adnan's crowd, who brought the whole package to SK and offered interviewees, documents, and access to Adnan, he wasn't at all involved in conceiving of the project, not aboard at all before the ground level. He got some emails out of the blue one day in mid-investigation. Of course he didn't know what the structure and narrative of the project would be, and, given the asymmetry of personal means and legal support, of course it would probably not have been to his benefit to talk to SK at all. Jay has no Rabia. He has no Shamim. He doesn't even have a Sarah.
posted by Miko at 7:55 AM on January 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


What Jay does have is his confession of accessory to murder. He dug the hole. It's OK to start with the premise that maybe he's guilty of poor character, even before the lying and inconsistencies that SK tries to unwrap.

BTW, it seems odd that in the new interviews Jay insists he never touched Hae's body. I mean OK, I respect that decision at the time, and maybe it has some legal meaning. But it also means he has no explanation if his DNA turns up on Hae's corpse in the retesting. That's an example of the reason Jay should not be saying anything to anyone about this case.
posted by Nelson at 10:38 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Part 3 of the interview made me feel horrible for Jay's family. His wife and kids never asked for this.

Print and broadcast journalists have been doing it ever since there has been print and broadcast journalism. The only real difference is that this particular incident became a pop phenomenon among internet geeks, instead of yet another true crime show on cable TV, causing a new sector of the public to think about the implications of the system's structure and the role of public information and journalism in society.

Good point.
posted by radioamy at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2015


People are not one-dimensional, and they can do terrible things in extremis, and many many violent criminals are likable without being psychiatrically diagnosable as sociopaths.

Hmmm, when SK was discussing whether or not Adnan was a sociopath, she was operating on the basis of one of Jay's earlier stories (which didn't match the one he told in the interview), that Adnan planned the murder in advance, carried it out, and bragged about it afterwards. SK acknowledged that normal people can do terrible things in extremis, but she was pointing out specifically that that did NOT describe what Adnan had been accused of doing.

If Adnan did what Jay (originally) said, and add to it that he has shown no remorse in the years since the murder, then I think you would have to conclude he has sociopathic tendencies at the very least.

I don't think that's particularly useful, though. Because I don't think sociopathy is something a layperson can disprove in an individual, much as SK wanted to do so. She claimed that Adnan displayed empathy and emotion in his interactions with her; personally I didn't find that argument compelling at all... sociopaths are manipulators, after all, and can be capable of willed empathy.

There was that one guy SK talked to who said that most murderers are not sociopaths and most sociopaths are not murderers. I'd be curious to see the first part of that broken down a bit more. Like, what percentage of premeditated murders are committed by non-sociopaths, and on what basis is sociopathy ruled out in those individuals?
posted by torticat at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


operating on the basis of one of Jay's earlier stories (which didn't match the one he told in the interview)

I've pretty much concluded that in the original statements, Jay said what he needed to say to deliver the conviction the police were after. Premeditation is one of the requirements for a first-degree murder conviction in Maryland.

I think you would have to conclude he has sociopathic tendencies at the very least.

Are you saying this based on professional knowledge of sociopathy?

I haven't read a ton about it, but have an educator's training in cognitive disorders and have read some interesting articles on the topic over the years. "> I think it might be good to start clarifying terms if we're going to talk in depth about it, because I think a lot of people know the words "psychopath" and/or "sociopath" but we're not always thoroughly certain about what they mean.The Wikipedia entry strikes me as a pretty good place to start grasping some of the nuance behind the term.The term isn't the one used in the DSM to describe what we commonly mean by it. Instead, it's called antisocial personality disorder, with psychopathy being an expression on the continuum of that more widely defined disorder. That means that many more people (including, according to Wikipedia here, 2-3 times as many convicted criminals) have an antisocial personality disorder than have psychopathy. Also, there are apparently at least some professionals who distinguish between psychopathic and sociopathic types of ASD, the difference being that psychopaths are better at maintaining normal relatonships. Since it's a continuum, and since there's no definitive test for it (it's something determined by a professional using a lengthy behavioral inventory), we can't tell by observing a single event or action whether someone is/isn't a psychopath. I don't think you'll find that the professional knowledge supports the assertion you make here. A person can be violent, deceptive, have poor impulse control, etc., etc., and still not be clinically termed a sociopath/psychopath. And since I know it is a difficult project even for a clinician to make that determination, I'm definitely out of my depth trying to make it myself.

I don't think there's enough evidence to determine that Adnan is either a sociopath or psychopath even if he did do it. When you say I'd "have to conclude" that he had "sociopathic tendencies," I understand that to mean that he exhibited some of the behaviors of a sociopath. Maybe, or maybe some other form of ASD, but neither is necessary for him or anyone else to be capable of the murder - nor would having a diagnosis do much to help us determine anything about his guilt or innocence. Unfortunately, I think that many more people are not as far from the capability of committing murder as most of us commonly imagine. Humans have all manner of psychological troubles that cause them to act in ways that are antisocial, and many are also quite good at evasion and deception. We are also excellent at rationalizing our actions in hindsight and concealing our motives, even from ourselves.
posted by Miko at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2015


neither is necessary for him or anyone else to be capable of the murder -

Well, I was taking the facts and SK's musings about them in the context in which she presented them.

No, Adnan would absolutely not have needed to be a psychopath/sociopath/person with ASD to commit the murder in a different way from the way it was presented.

If he planned it, did it, boasted about it, showed no remorse AND has a high level of superficial charisma and verbal ability, then he's just by definition showing tendencies toward something on that ASD spectrum. I'm not saying that's what happened, but that's the story SK was discussing.

I don't think you'll find that the professional knowledge supports the assertion you make here.

If the above scenario is accurate, I doubt you'd find professional disagreement with my "assertion," hedged as it is. Which is not to say a professional would be willing to diagnose him over the internet! :) But just that those are some pretty major indicators.

And also, while I agree with this: I think that many more people are not as far from the capability of committing murder as most of us commonly imagine,
I don't think it applies to the scenario above. I don't think there are lots of people capable of carrying out murder in that particular way. (Interestingly Adnan made this argument pretty forcefully himself... which could be interpreted either as empathy or as manipulation... no way to know.)

nor would having a diagnosis do much to help us determine anything about his guilt or innocence.

I have zero knowledge about how this plays out legally, but just in the context of our discussion and speculation here, it would make a huge difference to me to know that Adnan had been diagnosed with some form of ASD. You know... added to the motive and opportunity and eyewitness testimony against him. Really all we have in Adnan's favor (besides presumption of innocence) is his own word. If he's a psychopath/sociopath/whatever your preferred word is, that's out the window, and with it probably goes reasonable doubt.
posted by torticat at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2015


Other than the part where he's not in prison and never did a day, of course.

Why should we assume that the guy who is currently in prison for murdering his ex girlfriend should get the benefit of the doubt, but the guy who testified against him should have his story picked apart with a fine-toothed comb? This seems like very strange logic to me.

It's dramatically interesting for a narrative to introduce someone who is in prison and say, "But what if he didn't really do it?" But it's not logical.

And, yes, in a lot of ways Jay did get caught in Serial's crossfire, precisely because Koenig decided to frame the story as "Maybe Adnan is innocent, and oh, hey, look over here, wheeee!" in the general direction of Jay.

I wouldn't have wanted to talk to Serial, either, if I were jay.
posted by Sara C. at 5:40 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


...in a lot of ways Jay did get caught in Serial's crossfire, precisely because Koenig decided to frame the story as "Maybe Adnan is innocent, and oh, hey, look over here, wheeee!" in the general direction of Jay
Jay got "caught in the crossfire" the way any person guilty of accessory-to-murder-after-the-fact happens to get brought up again when discussing a murder of a teenager.

Jay didn't help himself by proving to have a continuing history of telling lies. When someone tells a bunch of lies and half-truths about a serious matter, that makes the people interested in the matter to want to look at them closer.

I do feel sorry for Jay’s children and wife—innocent people who, like Hae’s family, have to pay for the choices that Jay decided to make.

But to me, Jay himself seems to come across as—"Hey man, come on, that helping-hide-a-murder thing is so 1999... I mean, look, I've stopped selling weed and I even moved to a different city! But now I'm getting kicked off a construction gig because my co-workers don't want to work with someone involved in covering up the murder of a high school girl? How is that fair!?"

If Jay had embarrassed himself at Senior Prom, I could see him saying "Come on, let it go—I moved away to get away from all of that!", but complaining about people interested as to how you saw not-one-day of jail-time for your involvement in the slap-dash burying of a murdered teenage friend in a shallow grave...?

Jay appears to be clueless in the saddest (for a person) way.
posted by blueberry at 7:00 PM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]




Like, what percentage of premeditated murders are committed by non-sociopaths

It's going to depend a lot on how you define "premeditated." On the murder trial I served on, the prosecutor (and the judge) both talked to us a lot at various points during the trial about what constituted premeditation, and it doesn't requires weeks or days or hours of planning. It counts as premeditation if, in the moments before you kill someone, you think or say "You fuckhead, I'm gonna fucking kill you" and then you do.
posted by rtha at 7:24 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's going to depend a lot on how you define "premeditated."

This was actually the thing that was most surprising to me in all of law school, i.e., the thing that most directly contradicted my expectations of what the law is. For states like Maryland that use this (to me) very loose definition of premeditation, it seems that almost any murder would be premeditated, and a strangulation would almost necessarily be so.
posted by skewed at 7:34 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, rtha, that was sloppy wording on my part. I listened to (an embarrassing amount of) the Jodi Arias trial and your point was one that Juan Martinez drilled into that jury, too.

I didn't mean premeditated in the legal sense, but planned in advance and carried out according to plan, like Scott-Peterson-planned-in-advance. Which is what Adnan would have been doing if he had, in fact, told Jay that he planned to kill Hae and would do it in her car and needed to ditch his own car for a while in order to trick her into giving him a ride, and all of that.

I thought the comments of the forensic psychologist on the podcast regarding premeditation were interesting too:

People sometimes lose it and when they lose it, it’s not always all at once. I’ve seen a lot of cases in which people have over a relatively short period of time, nursed feelings of rejection or anger or hostility and they’ve slowly risen to the point at which the individual decides to kill somebody. Those feelings simmer for a while and one of the thoughts is, “Maybe I should kill this person. I’m not going to kill this person. I don’t want to kill this person. But what if I did?” The person thinks about it, and then maybe confronts the other person, the person who’s the object of the frustration and the anger. Then at that point, the victim or would-be victim says or does something that triggers it, that provokes the ultimate killing. Now the law looks at that as premeditated. I’m not sure that it really is premeditated in the sense that we normally think of it. It doesn’t have to be like a sudden impulse to violence.
posted by torticat at 8:20 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Really all we have in Adnan's favor (besides presumption of innocence) is his own word. If he's a psychopath/sociopath/whatever your preferred word is, that's out the window, and with it probably goes reasonable doubt.

This strikes me as leading toward a horror scenario, something playing right into the stigma of mental illness that causes so many people to avoid treatment in the first place. It suggests that if we had a diagnosis for Adnan, and it surfaced in court, that would increase your willingness to convict, even though it is not evidence of guilt. I see that as deeply problematic. After all, we do know that there are many functional ASPD people in this world who are not criminals, and it would not be just to use their diagnosis alone, in the absence of other evidence, to conclude that therefore they must have done a crime. There is no need to play psych doctor and go muddling in Adnan's mind for clues as to whether he "could" do this. I see no reason to start from the premise that he's believable - treat all statements by everyone as conditional as to truth value until other evidence supports them, and it's much easier to evaluate likelihoods. The entire existence of this podcast is predicated on Adnan and Rabia's effort to get his conviction overturned. That alone guarantees that I am going to evaluate his statements every bit as skeptically as everyone else's, and I would consider myself foolish not to continuously allow for the possibility that he is not telling the truth, even as I do the same for others.

I also just don't accept all of your reasoning about how this "scenario" could only have been done by someone on the ASPD personality continuum. Respectfully, I just do not think you can know such a thing. Clearly, as evidenced by the population of convicted murderers whose convictions are not in question, plenty of people are capable of murder who do not have any history of these "tendencies," and at a certain point, saying "Well if they did this act they must have these tendencies" is kind of a semantic game. We can call everyone in prison de facto mentally ill by extending the definition of ASPD so far rhetorically that it covers everyone, but we haven't learned anything about their guilt or innocence of any specific crime by doing so.
posted by Miko at 9:27 AM on January 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, I definitely accept that the definition of premeditation can be nuanced and highly flexible, but that truth can certainly coexist with the possibility of police counsel advising Jay to stating that the premeditation was clear as day, so as to reduce ambiguity for the jury and increase their likelihood of securing a conviction.
posted by Miko at 9:32 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


it would not be just to use their diagnosis alone, in the absence of other evidence, to conclude that therefore they must have done a crime.

Of course! I said in combination with the other information in the case. Of course it would be irresponsible to presume guilt based on a diagnosis alone.

The other night after I said that I have zero knowledge of how this would play out in a legal sense, I did a bit of reading to find out how diagnosis has been used; it's pretty fascinating. What I read had to do with sentencing rather than conviction; a diagnosis is generally considered to be an aggravating factor not a mitigating one (a whole interesting debate on its own), and it's been used by prosecutors to argue a greater likelihood of recidivism.

Just throwing that out there because I found it interesting, not to make any particular point. The information that can be considered in sentencing is obviously different from what is admissible in trial, and I honestly have no idea how personality disorder diagnoses are used in trial. Would love to know more about this. It's obviously a murky area and still developing.

BUT, Miko, as I said I wasn't really talking from a legal perspective, just from my own as a Serial listener. And I don't see any particular slippery-slope danger in my saying that, IF Adnan had been diagnosed with a disorder that includes near the top of the list "pathological lying," that would change my view of the case!

There is no need to play psych doctor and go muddling in Adnan's mind for clues as to whether he "could" do this.

Yeah. Well I'm not really muddling for whether he could have done it (he could; I don't see that that's in question), but speculating about whether he did. And speculating about hypotheticals, at that--since obviously we don't know if he's a psychopath.

Clearly, as evidenced by the population of convicted murderers whose convictions are not in question, plenty of people are capable of murder who do not have any history of these "tendencies,"

Well, 1) you keep saying this, but I would like to see the evidence that a sizable number of "normal" people (i.e. no personality disorders) commit murders of this kind. Here's one report that might suggest the opposite, and includes the interesting statement, "We know more about the personality structure linked with certain rather uncommon types of murder than we do about some of the common types (bar-room brawls ending in murder; drug-deals gone bad, etc.)."

at a certain point, saying "Well if they did this act they must have these tendencies" is kind of a semantic game.

and 2), I pretty much agree with that, and have said as much. I mean, I don't have a problem saying "If Adnan did this (in the way originally described, which is in itself speculative) he must have these tendencies." I do have a problem with SK's sort of ruling out psychopathy based on her own observations as a way to argue he probably didn't do it (I think we agree that armchair diagnosis can't be used in this way, at least).
posted by torticat at 1:40 PM on January 4, 2015


Toticat, your Academia.edu link resulted in a "403 forbidden" error for me. I did Google the phrase you quoted and found that it pretty much supports my view that there are many, many psychological roots of murderous behavior beyond psychopathy.

There are a lot of studies linking personality disorders and criminal offenders, but my main point is that until a person offends there is not necessarily anything distinguishing them from the general population. Also, that you can't determine from the existence of a personality disorder whether or not someone is, or is likely to be, a criminal, in any one given criminal incident. It is fairly useless in a determination of guilt.

There is a correlation between violent crime and personality disorders, but that does not translate to causation in any single case under examination. As my link describes it, "The relationship between antisocial personality disorder and offending is not surprising given the rather tautological definition." It's that tautological definition that I think is supremely unhelpful in any evaluation of Adnan; it's as though observers are saying "we'll decide how appropriate the definition is based on whether he did it or not." As you're willing to say: if it turns out that it's overwhelmingly likely that Adnan did it, then we rationalize it by saying he's a pathological liar with a personality disorder. My main point is that he doesn't need to be an extreme outlier, psychologically speaking, to be capable of this.

Interesting, too, that a diagnosis of ASPD can seem to improve over time, making it difficult to evalute whether someone who does not seem to have it now might have had it in the past.

I don't have a problem with SK's ruling out psychopathy, which is one extreme subcategory of personality disorder. Even though as many as 1 in 100 people have ASPD, if she has been convinced by the IP Project person that it isn't active here, so be it. I do have a problem with her ruling out all forms of personality disorder that could also account for a violent reaction and subsequent obfuscation, because there are a lot of those.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on January 4, 2015


The authors, too, carefully hedge their discussion and note that the act of committting even many violent crimes need not always be associated with chronic psychological illness:

...given a paranoid personality, what is the risk of violent crime?—we can say very little, absent the difficult epidemiological research necessary to fill in the unknowns of the equation. As matters stand, we can say that the personality types most closely linked with violence are psychopathy, sadistic, and antisocial personalities. To approach analysis of risk beyond that point requires data concerning a host of intervening variables: environmental traumata, history of head injury or brain disease, history and types of substance abuse, cultural factors, signs of cognitive limitation or impairment, and the like...In the assessment—and ultimately in the sentencing—of persons commit-ting violent crimes, greater emphasis should be placed on this diagnostic distinction. ‘Time served’ should be based optimally on the risk for future dangerousness (as best we can estimate this), rather than on arbitrary sentences of ‘x’ years for rape, ‘y’ years for murder, etc. The prognosis will often be better for those who do not meet criteria for psychopathy, however flamboyant their careers may have been for antisocial behaviours in their 20s and 30s. Among the former Los Angeles gang members (from the ‘Crips’ and other gangs) that I interviewed recently—men now in their late 40s—those who had long antisocial careers, but were not psychopathic, had changed dramatically, had entered a state of redemption and were now—after having been incarcerated for many years—leading constructive lives in the community (often working to rehabilitate troubled youths in the same gangs they had formerly belonged to). This was the case with the famous Crips leader, Tookie Williams (2004)—whose autobiography shows his evolution from a violent antisocial ‘gang-banger’ to a (still incarcerated) Nobel Peace-Prize nominee for his books cautioning young men and women not to follow in his footsteps. This was not the case with those meeting psychopathic criteria.

You also raised sentencing; sentencing is a very different procedure from criminal trial. In sentencing, the convicted's guilt is assumed and the above-mentioned 'risk assessment' is the focus of the discussion.
posted by Miko at 8:03 PM on January 4, 2015


A new Reddit post claims firsthand knowledge that Adnan confessed to three members of his mosque.
posted by shivohum at 9:20 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the issue of premeditation or not becomes a question when one grapples with the scenario that has been presented by Jay in his statements and testimony. It comes from him that Adnan not only planned to murder Hae ahead of time but that he carried out his plan, incorporated an accessory, and then managed to leave no evidence behind. None of Adnan's friends or family think that the person they know is capable of murder. Nor do they think that he was distraught over their breakup. That's what makes people think he is a "psychopath." How could this kid, by all accounts a fairly normal if not slightly above-average kid fool all these people when, in fact, he is a cold-blooded killer? How, unless he is a psychopath?

Alternate theory is that it was a "crime of passion" which makes a hell of a lot more sense as a general theory in which Adnan (as the person we seem to know him as) completely loses his cool and kills his ex. Because strangling just doesn't seem to be a premeditated type of killing. Stabbing, blunt-force trauma or shooting seems more likely. Even strangulation with a rope seems more likely than bare hands in a premeditated murder. But, again, we have lack of evidence with a crime of passion scenario. And of course, we have Jay's testimony countering that.

Honestly, if Jay's testimony had amounted to: "I don't know what his deal was, we weren't friends, he said he'd rat me out for drugs if I didn't help him and that's all I know." That would be more believable than the crazy tale(s) and (lack of) evidence in the form of cell phone records that came out to convict Adnan.

Lastly, I've been thinking a lot about racism, cops, the justice system, Jay's continuing fear of someone and the episode where Koenig mused over the issue of racism in the trial. I, too, did not really feel like Adnan himself suffered much for being a muslim. However, the more I think about it, the more I think that this whole case may have suffered due to issues with race. All these kids are part of minority groups: african american, muslim, korean. A bunch of minority kids, doing drugs and being involved in drugs. Lack of parental guidance for some of them and maybe "too much" of the wrong kind of parental involvement in another – traumatized Korean parents, an entire Muslim community from Adnan's mosque. A community that has "resources" back to Pakistan and money. I just can too easily see how any number of people – the cops, the judges, lawyers – can just say, "Fuck it. Those people...." You know? Nobody tried hard enough in this case. I think that's because they just didn't care. Or felt that "those people" probably deserved to be punished for something.

So, that's my real armchair diagnosis. The judge's warning to Adnan that he "has been perfect so far, don't ruin it" is just so patronizing, along the lines of telling a black person that they are "so articulate and well mannered." It's not quite that bad but it feels cut from the same cloth. All these professional defenders of justice should have been trying a lot harder. My heart breaks again for the family of Hae Min Lee.
posted by amanda at 10:14 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


A new Reddit post claims firsthand knowledge that Adnan confessed to three members of his mosque.

Well, that is fascinating. Reddit's sure not buying it though!

Rabia replied btw... said SK had spoken to the people in question. Very very interesting.
posted by torticat at 11:18 PM on January 4, 2015


BTW regarding that Mr B person... someone on Reddit the other day asked how Jay could have known he pleaded the fifth during grand jury proceedings. Aren't GJ deliberations normally sealed? (But apparently Intercept verified that information, so I guess it's available?)
posted by torticat at 11:25 PM on January 4, 2015


sentencing is a very different procedure from criminal trial.

You know, I said this explicitly. Miko, I feel like you are constructing arguments either against things I've already said I agree with, or with things I never made a statement about one way or the other (e.g., I never said anything about the predictive value of an ASD diagnosis, nor about causation).

I'm more interested in the explanatory effect, sort of after-the-fact. Like, oh yeah, that would make sense of how he behaved if that's how things shook out.

Except for the pathological lying aspect... you say, "then we rationalize it by saying he's a pathological liar...." No, with regard to that I'm not rationalizing after the fact; I'm perfectly willing to accept lying as a contributing factor in evaluating testimony and determining guilt. If someone is a lying liar who lies, that sure as hell is going to come up in trial, and doesn't require a diagnosis. But in the rare case that psychopathy is introduced at the trial stage (an event which has to meet high standards), I wouldn't have a problem treating the lying part of the diagnosis in the same way. Unless otherwise instructed by the judge. :)

(NB Adnan didn't testify--so I'm again talking hypothetically, as if his self-defense on Serial could be subjected to these tests, which they obviously can't except in a casual-observer sort of way.)

there are many, many psychological roots of murderous behavior beyond psychopathy.

YES! No doubt! In addition to personality disorders, there are schizophrenia and depressive psychosis and other mental disorders (which, unlike personality disorders, can be used to argue not-guilty by reason of insanity). There is no reason (from what we know) to think Adnan suffered from severe mental disorders. As to PD, yes I've somewhat been using "psychopathy" as shorthand for those--but mainly because the others don't really fit--and/or share some of the same relevant traits (e.g. NPD). But obviously a professional diagnosis would require the doctor to rule out other possibilities before deciding on psychopathy. Or decide on a complicated combination of disorders.

Miko, if all you're saying is that psychopathy isn't the only possible explanation, that there are other disorders with some explanatory power: I agree. I do believe that some kind of severe mental or personality disorders are involved in the vast majority of pre-planned murders after which the killer shows no remorse. I don't believe that your average, non-disordered person is capable of this kind of murder. If you agree with that, then we're pretty much on the same page and have been quibbling about details.
posted by torticat at 1:01 AM on January 5, 2015


A new Reddit post claims firsthand knowledge that Adnan confessed to three members of his mosque.

Wouldn't that be secondhand knowledge, and isn't this more or less the textbook definition of "hearsay"?
posted by Etrigan at 5:00 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


How could this kid, by all accounts a fairly normal if not slightly above-average kid fool all these people when, in fact, he is a cold-blooded killer? How, unless he is a psychopath?

Because they're close to him and do not want to believe this about him. It can be that simple. And remember, it's not "by all accounts," it's by the accounts of a select number of his champions, close friends, and family who agreed to be involved in the reporting project.

I'm just really uncomfortable with setting up the dichotomy "he's either a psychopath [or, for those willing to accept more nuance, has a personality disorder] or he's innocent." That's just unrealistic to mei Even if we broaden it (as we must) to any kind of PD, If we categorically define "anyone capable of committing a murder and then lying about it to people close to him" as "someone who must necessarily have a personality disorder," it becomes pretty much a tautology and hard to disagree with, as the sets are now the same. But I think that is too broad a definition and that the sets are not exactly overlapping. Violent acts and lying are indicators/symptoms of disorders, not determinants. I'm a lot more interested in whether someone committed a murder and lied about it than in whether they're "capable" of it, or why or how.

What is certain is that a sizable number of people are capable of it, for whatever reasons. I disbelieve the idea that it's very easy to spot someone who has a personality disorder before they have committed any acts that might reveal it, so I disagree that such a habit would definitely "come up in trial." I actually worked for someone as a teenager who, a few years later, committed a premeditated murder - his brother. Though I spent only a few months working for him in a seasonal job, he did not exhibit anything you could point to as a personality disorder, or even a habit of lying - it was a family business, and many people returned year after year, and there were no whisperings or grumblings about him. He seemed normal, driven, but normal.

Then, too, in cases where a young person has gradually developed a late-onset disorder, I have sat with families who earnestly search their child's history for any indication that something strange was happening, and found absolutely nothing to go on, up to the time of its first expression.

One of the concerns about diagnosis, as well, is that once people are in the justice system they're much, much more likely to get any kind of diagnosis at all than are people out in the wild, who have much less access or intense need for psychological evaluation. So we can say "look at all these violent criminals, the majority of them have a PD," when in fact we have no similarly clear numbers about incidence in the wider population, because most people rarely go through a psychiatric evaluation unless something big happens.

My main point is not really to nitpick. I understand, torticat, that you can agree to many of my major points and am exploring it as part of a larger discussion, not attacking your point of view. Mainly, it's that I get uncomfortable with bandying about pop/lay understandings of psychology as a way to attempt to understand violent crime. It happens a lot; it's where our minds are trained to go by a lot of exposure to pop culture, but it's not really borne up by much professional understanding. SK played right into it. Her reporting on the interactions between crime and mental illness could have been much more sophisticated and thorough, which would have really been a service to her audience. Sadly, this thread contains more information about crime and mental illness than her entire podcast did. She pretty much went through the tropes, "But he's so nice. Could he be a killer? Only if he is a psychopath! Could he be a psychopath? Apparently it's unlikely! Moving on." That was a fairly shallow dispensing of what could be a deeper discussion that might help people get beyond the fiction-television-influenced understandings that many are bringing to discussions of crime. Dr. Charles Ewing, the forensic psychology scholar she interviewed, was a good source and it would have been great to hear more from him. To look back, here's the segment he appeared in (it's so short):
Charles Ewing
Most of the hundreds of killers I’ve evaluated have been pretty ordinary people.

Sarah Koenig
This is Charles Ewing. He’s a forensic psychologist and a lawyer. He teaches at the SUNY Buffalo Law School. He told me he’s evaluated several thousand criminal defendants and testified in more than 700 trials as an expert witness. Mostly, lately, homicides committed by people in intimate relationships and homicides committed by young people. Ewing had listened to about half the episodes of the show. Obviously he can’t weigh in on Adnan’s psychological health, that’d be ridiculous. But I went to him to find out what’s a valid way to try to understand what’s going on when someone kills someone else. What’s the range of options here? Ewing said most of the time he’s doing insanity evaluations or evaluations for extreme emotional disturbance. Usually in cases where there’s not a question of whether the defendant did it, more a question of why. Again, most of the people he’s evaluating are pretty ordinary.

Charles Ewing
Some are extraordinary, there’s some serial killers, some spree killers, some really awful psychopathic individuals. But for the most part, people kill not in a premeditated way; they’re not evil, they’re not sociopathic, they’re not psychopathic. They kill because something happens that pushes them over the edge.

Sarah Koenig
In other words, murder isn’t usually, strictly speaking a planned event....[some brief excerpts of interviews with Adnan's supporters]..I asked Ewing, can an otherwise seemingly normal kid up and do something like this, plan something like this, or even do it impulsively?

Sarah Koenig
Is snapping a thing? Because people say that all the time also, like, “maybe you snapped.” Or, you know, “he snapped.”

Charles Ewing
Yeah. People sometimes lose it and when they lose it, it’s not always all at once. I’ve seen a lot of cases in which people have over a relatively short period of time, nursed feelings of rejection or anger or hostility and they’ve slowly risen to the point at which the individual decides to kill somebody. Those feelings simmer for a while and one of the thoughts is, “Maybe I should kill this person. I’m not going to kill this person. I don’t want to kill this person. But what if I did?” The person thinks about it, and then maybe confronts the other person, the person who’s the object of the frustration and the anger. Then at that point, the victim or would-be victim says or does something that triggers it, that provokes the ultimate killing. Now the law looks at that as premeditated. I’m not sure that it really is premeditated in the sense that we normally think of it. It doesn’t have to be like a sudden impulse to violence.

Sarah Koenig
So that was news to me, that there’s this sort of liminal phase, a simmering contemplation: “What if I killed this person?” That can take the place of actual cognizant planning, but end up in the same result.
Basically, I feel pretty well supported in saying that a diagnosis of any kind of PD is not a necessary precondition for murder or for lying about murder, and that a diagnosis of PD is not in and of itself evidence that a person committed a crime. What it comes down to, for me, in short, is that there's a lot more to this psychological discussion than either SK covered, or than we can cover here (especially without real professional knowledge) but in all the across-the-web discussions I read about this podcast I've gotten frustrated with what everyone thinks they know about mental illness, but doesn't really.
posted by Miko at 8:07 AM on January 5, 2015


I disbelieve the idea that it's very easy to spot someone who has a personality disorder before they have committed any acts that might reveal it

No one in this thread has said anything about the predictive value of a diagnoisis.

so I disagree that such a habit would definitely "come up in trial."

NO ONE HAS SAID THIS. Whom are you disagreeing with?

Or wait, are you talking about my saying that a witness's lies will come up in trial? Because, um, yeah... they will. Jodi Arias's lies were a major part of the prosecution against her. In Adnan Syed's trial, Jay's lies were a major part of Gutierrez's attempt to discredit him. This isn't controversial. I don't think I or anyone else has said a personality disorder is necessary for someone to lie, nor that a PD is likely to come up in trial (on the contrary-- that's not common at all). What I've said is that IF a person has a PD in which pathological lying is a major component, that person is probably likely to lie!

I'm a lot more interested in whether someone committed a murder and lied about it than in whether they're "capable" of it, or why or how.

Notice my comment:
"I'm not really muddling for whether he could have done it (he could; I don't see that that's in question), but speculating about whether he did."

To look back, here's the segment he appeared in (it's so short):

Did you notice I quoted the relevant part of this upthread?

I feel pretty well supported in saying that a diagnosis of any kind of PD is not a necessary precondition for murder or for lying about murder, and that a diagnosis of PD is not in and of itself evidence that a person committed a crime.

Once again--I agree 100% with this statement, but don't see the relevance. You are talking about ALL murders; I have been talking about the subset of pre-planned, remorseless murder.
posted by torticat at 9:15 AM on January 5, 2015


I like your analysis Miko but I agree with torticat, you seem to be arguing with yourself at this point.

While I did say this: How could this kid, by all accounts a fairly normal if not slightly above-average kid fool all these people when, in fact, he is a cold-blooded killer? How, unless he is a psychopath?

I should be clear that this is from an outside, layperson's perspective of trying to make sense of how this act was committed. That's what people try to do. Make sense of senseless acts.

I'm just really uncomfortable with setting up the dichotomy "he's either a psychopath [or, for those willing to accept more nuance, has a personality disorder] or he's innocent."

I really don't think anyone is saying that. Not a "psychopath" ≠ innocent. But, without the psychopath characteristic to fall back on we are left with a crime that has no motive, contains no physical evidence tying the convicted to the crime, and relies entirely on one person's incredibly suspect testimony.
posted by amanda at 9:39 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


There was some physical evidence presented at trial. Adnan's palm print was on the map book in Hae's car. Adnan's phone pinged a cell tower in the Park where Hae was buried on the evening of the crime at a time Adnan claimed to be at the mosque. There was also the note that Adnan was writing back and forth on with his friend in class where he wrote "I'll kill her"

There is additional physical evidence that was not tested which will hopefully be tested now and should have been tested in the original trial.
posted by humanfont at 10:07 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




Fafu's mashup of Biggie and Serial can be downloaded here.
posted by craniac at 12:50 AM on January 6, 2015


You are talking about ALL murders; I have been talking about the subset of pre-planned, remorseless murder.

I don't see any definitive reason to call this a preplanned, remorseless murder. Even if it were, I think there are preplanned, remorseless murders not done by psychpaths or anyone with PD. People who kill their abusers, for instance.

without the psychopath characteristic to fall back on we are left with a crime that has no motive

It definitely has a motive, we just don't know what it is. There's a lot that happened in this situation that we simply don't know, which is worth remembering - unknown unknowns, to us, anyway. And there is evidence, as humanfont listed, just not great evidence. There were also a number of other witnesses. I contest the idea there's nothing else to "fall back on." There are a lot of possibilities other than that Adnan was one of the >1% of people with a particular disorder. I know we're not the jury, but I prefer to avoid deploying easy narratives about psychopathy when the discussants really don't know that much about the disorder or related disorders, and when there are many other possibilities in which he could still be the killer. I'd rather say "I have no idea how to make sense of this - what do the experts on this say? What does the evidence say? Can we know this at this time with what we have to work with?" than to accept a pop culture definition of something as explanatory.

If I'm arguing with myself, I'm perfectly fine with that, and said as much above. I'm thinking it through like everyone else. I just think would like to do better than leaning on stereotypes from lay psychiatry or shallow understandings of things that come from TV or a few minutes' Googling.
posted by Miko at 5:57 PM on January 6, 2015


*not eyewitnesses, I'm aware. But Cathy, the character witnesses, all had something to say that contributed to Adnan's conviction.
posted by Miko at 6:19 PM on January 6, 2015


I don't see any definitive reason to call this a preplanned, remorseless murder.

and

There are a lot of possibilities other than that Adnan was one of the >1% of people with a particular disorder.

Miko, I won't go on arguing this endlessly, but just to be clear, I agree with both of those statements and have never said otherwise. This is why it seems like you are arguing in circles... if you look back at my comment that originally disagreed with you, I was clarifying the framework SK was operating from. I think her conclusions about psychopathy were fair enough based on that framework but don't think her underlying assumptions (based on one of Jay's original stories) were necessarily true, nor that she's qualified to rule out a disorder.

You seem to think (last para) it is okay for her to have ruled out psychopathy (partly based on Enright's comments--??) but that other conclusions from laypeople are out of bounds.

I just think would like to do better than leaning on stereotypes from lay psychiatry or shallow understandings of things that come from TV or a few minutes' Googling.

I wish that you would discuss without the condescending/insulting tone. I really do, because I respect your thoughts, but don't get the impression that that is reciprocated at all.

Like--I think you are probably by nature an autodidact. I don't think you would take kindly to having the things you have learned reduced to "shallow understandings of things that come from TV or a few minutes' Googling" when someone disagrees with you.
posted by torticat at 11:56 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


You seem to think (last para) it is okay for her to have ruled out psychopathy (partly based on Enright's comments--??) but that other conclusions from laypeople are out of bounds.

I would not call Enright a layperson; she has a different specialty and a mission-driven perspective I think is probably contestable by people with a wider perspective on criminal psychology, but I'm sure she's dealt with this question a lot in he professional life. I would also not call SK a layperson, as an investigative journalist who is supposed to achieve enough mastery of this kind of information to relay it accurately to her audience, but I think it's safe to say she hasn't pursued thorough reporting on this angle. Both of them have more information than true laypeople, who have never looked seriously into these questions to get a strong understanding of the professional knowledge of the subject. Finally, the only conclusions from laypeople I am declaring "out of bounds" are that the only way a could commit a preplanned murder and then lie about it is that they have a diagnosable personality disorder, and that a diagnosed personality disorder can serve as evidence of guilt, or can defensibly bias a jury as to someone's guilt.

I think you are probably by nature an autodidact.

Well, I'm not sure where you're gleaning information about me, but I think it's worth making distinctions. On some topics I am an autodidact, but as I said above, I trained and worked as an educator, which means that I had advanved coursework in cognitive and developmental psychology and in behavioral disorders, along with a semesterlong practicum in a school for students with severe learning disorders, developmental delays and autism spectrum disorders, followed by three years in practice with students with several kinds of diagnoses requiring close work with clinical and educational psychologists, including one with a several and violent behavioral disorder. Through all of these experiences as well as my own reading, I have taken away - really, been schooled - in the belief that relying on the stigmatized and simplistic assumptions about mental illness that are quite common in popular culture.

I don't think you would take kindly

If it looks as though "things I have learned" are consistent with casual tropes from TV cop shows, I don't think you'd find me resistant.

I wish that you would discuss without the condescending/insulting tone. I really do, because I respect your thoughts, but don't get the impression that that is reciprocated at all.

Any such tone you're perceiving is unintentional on my part. I haven't said anything here I think is disrespectful. If you don't disagree with me, you don't have to keep responding to my comments as there is nothing to resolve. As I said above, some of this is thinking aloud and some is directed at the room - general readers - not you, specifically. I feel like your frustration is oddly personal and maybe if you continue to feel that way, we should discuss it offline rather than taking over the thread.
posted by Miko at 6:02 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]




The unprecedented popularity of the show can be explained, in part, by the appeal of its narrative to a progressively-minded public radio audience. “Serial” presented an archetype of the wrongful conviction story: the accused is railroaded, the lawyers are corrupt, and the jurors are manipulated by racially-charged rhetoric. All these problems, sadly, occur often in the criminal justice system but there’s no indication they impacted this case.

Ugh, what is Vargas-Cooper's problem with progressives/NPR? Also, what horseshit. You can disagree that there was reasonable doubt, but to assert there's no sign of race rhetoric in this case is just nuts.
posted by phearlez at 2:24 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, I think that quote is spot-on in terms of why so many people were so disappointed with the "Serial" outcome. Through movies and TV, we're used to seeing all of these things happen, and then therefore the accused is innocent and eventually exonerated. But "Serial" revealed that you can have all of these problems with a case, and yet, still, that's no proof that the accused can be exonerated.
posted by Sara C. at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Her dad, Marc Cooper, used to work for Allende in Chile and then The Nation. He seems more like a contrarian, last he was with Pajama media. I guess it's a family thing?
posted by readery at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2015


It really comes across as a pro-state hit piece. Serial gets whacked with all this editorializing and then the interview seems like stenography.

When a jury of 12 people comes back with a guilty verdict in two hours, you’d think that rejecting their decision would require fresh evidence.

The reality is that “Serial” only worked if it could demonstrate that there were serious doubts about the fairness of Syed’s trial and conviction. If he were guilty, there was no story. The storytelling device was to amplify claims that favored Syed’s defense and contrast that with a watered-down version of the state’s case. There is supposed to be a presumption of innocence for people accused of a crime. But for those convicted, like Syed, there is already a determination of guilt.

Had “Serial” accepted the jury’s conclusion—that Adnan strangled a teenage girl —there would be no storyline, no general interest in the case, and hence no audience. So, Koenig dismissed the decision of the 12 jurors who heard the case, and even though she found nothing that would exonerate Syed, she shifted the burden of proof back onto the state.

And if The Intercept accepted Serial's narrative there'd be nothing on this link. I mean, who gives a shit? This is so authoritarian I am shocked to see Greenwald's name near it. I am fine with them making a case that SK & Serial failed to give the prosecution's position a fair shake. But if they're coming at any legal case from a position that it's inappropriate or unreasonable to question the ruling, that once a jury examines a case and makes a decision that said decision is therefore right and can't be disputed w/o new evidence? That is some serious nonsense.
posted by phearlez at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Intercept interviews Kevin Urick

My question is, where is part 2??
posted by torticat at 3:38 PM on January 8, 2015


Golf clap for the intercept. So much for fearless journalism that confronts and questions the powerful. Barely a peep about the fact that the key eyewitness has yet again changed the story and the timeline. The prosecutor wants to ask Adnan about cell tower pings, even though interveining years have shown that these pings are completely unreliable as a way of determining location with any certainty.
posted by humanfont at 4:33 AM on January 9, 2015


This is so authoritarian I am shocked to see Greenwald's name near it. I am fine with them making a case that SK & Serial failed to give the prosecution's position a fair shake.

A reporter for WAMU has the same reservations about the Intercept's piece.

From that essay, The Intercept has had to change its story about whether or not Koenig and her staff tried to Ulrick:
But in the corrections appended days after the interview ran, The Intercept’s editors admitted that Urick’s quote was shortened. The part that was excluded: “They may have left a voicemail that I didn’t return but I am not sure of that.” That’s a huge omission. The narrative suddenly shifts from “They didn’t even try to contact me” to “They may have tried but I don’t really remember.” And “Serial” itself is fighting back on this one: In a series of tweets this week, it insisted that Koenig tried multiple times to get in touch with Urick. (She got in touch with Wilds, but he apparently did not want to take part in “Serial.”)
posted by gladly at 6:44 PM on January 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Susan from LL2 has some damning opinions about Urick's presentation and understanding of the cellphone evidence. Did he understand the "evidence" completely? Did Gutierrez? Is it possible that he purposefully misrepresented the data?
posted by amanda at 8:26 AM on January 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's Susan Simpson discussing the evidence on the Arms Control Wonk podcast from Friday.
posted by readery at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Susan from LL2 has some damning opinions

Gotta say, that might be the most fascinating of Susan's contributions yet. The Leakin Park calls are by far the most damning evidence against Adnan, and that's certainly the only analysis I've seen that suggests what might be serious doubt that the phone was in the park at all at that time. There's no other evidence that's even when the burial took place (and Jay's latest story had the burial happening after midnight).

Of course SK's coworker would then have another item to add to her list of really, really, REALLY unlucky things that happened to Adnan that day.

I wonder if the cell tower guy that testified at trial had anything to say about the difference between incoming and outgoing calls in terms of location reliability. I find it odd that Serial's people missed that note from AT&T on the record. Maybe they caught it, but the experts they spoke with were able to explain in a way they found satisfactory enough they didn't consider it worth reporting?
posted by torticat at 5:41 PM on January 11, 2015


If you thought the last LL2 post was fascinating, wait till you read this one:

Evidence that Jay's Story Was Coached To Fit The Cell Phone Records.

Summarized: the cops got bad cellphone data initially, which Jay's story didn't match, until later Jay's story changed to match it, until later the cellphone data was fixed and Jay's story magically changed to match the newly fixed cellphone data.

To quote Susan from LL2:
Jay’s story is truly a wondrous thing. It can be consistent with the cellphone records when they are wrong, and then still be consistent even after the cellphone records have been corrected. And how could a story that is so amazingly consistent with the cellphone records have possibly been anything other than true?
posted by tocts at 5:28 AM on January 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


For what it's worth, here's the link to part II of the interview with Urick.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:10 PM on January 16, 2015


I think "deeply unsatisfying" is a fair if understated summation of the Urick interview. Maybe a more unsympathetic interviewer could have gotten a little more meat. But this guy gains nothing by ruminating on this solid "win" from his past.
posted by amanda at 9:04 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]




I've just mainlined this podcast in the last couple of weeks, so was glad to see this discussion here. I figured I'd post here rather than in any of the other discussions, because fanfare posts seem to be a bit more long tailed when it comes to discussion.

I think Serial as a piece of media and journalism is bound to be controversial. It's set up to be entertaining and compulsively listenable: the constant cliff hangers led me to listen on (and I imagine were extremely frustrating when it was released weekly!). I think the case it investigates is probably worthwhile, and it's clear that, while some facts emerged during the course of making the show, a lot of the investigation had already been done (it's not made entirely clear in episode 8, but the interview with Jay was conducted earlier, for instance). There is a very light touch approach to engaging with some of the issues raised, and sometimes SK comes across as very naive. Her surprise at the concept of "bad evidence", for instance, surprised me, and is a concept worth engaging with for a bit more than 10 minutes on a podcast, because it's something that matters and can lead to miscarriages of justice.

I think the podcast does clearly demonstrate that the state's case was too weak to convict Adnan with, but does fail to present Adnan as clearly innocent, as much as SK wants him to be innocent. Certainly the state's timeline absolutely doesn't work, their witness on whom the case rests had to be carefully guided into telling the most compelling story, and their use of racist tropes was super skeevy. Does that make the podcast a worthwhile venture? Probably. I think that, almost by happenstance, the podcast hits on lots of important issues with the case, although, because it's more attached to the question of whether Adnan did it or not, it acually misses the point some times. It becomes clear fairly early on that Adnan's innocence is essentially not going to be established, because too much time has passed and there is a distinct lack of evidence (although we will see what the DNA will bring up!).

I think the summary of what we know is really important. Jay knew where the car was. As far as I can see, this leads to one of the following scenarios

1)Jay helped Adnan bury the body and dump the car
2)Jay killed Hay himself and dumped the car
3)Jay and an accomplice killed Hay and dumped the car (or the accomplice killed Hay and Jay helped stash the car. Or, I suppose, the accomplice told Jay where the car was)
4)Jay stumbled across the car and decided to implicate Adnan (and himself (!)) in the murder
5)The police led Jay to the car

1 is essentially the states case. 4 strikes me as deeply unlikely. I also think 5 is fairly unlikely, for the reasons brought upthread. The one thing that bugs me, and never seems to be mentioned in the podcast, is how the police decided to distinguish between 3,2 and 1. They have Jay, who claims that Adnan killed Hay and he only assisted in the cover up, but that's just his word against Adnan's. Is it purely motive?

I guess when we think about 2 and 3 we have to think about timelines and why exactly Jay or someone else would kill Hay. If we are dealing with 2, how did Jay stumble across Hay to kill her, and why? For 3, the accomplice could maybe be Don, but what would incentivise Jay to help Don (I don't think there's any implication that Don knew Jay).

When I think it through like that it comes down to the following: if Jay did indeed know where the car was, then he must have been involved in the crime. It then seems mostly likely that Adnan did do it, simply because he has the best (if weakest) motive, and also the opportunity. While Don could easily have been her killer, I don't understand why Jay would help him, and why he would then implicate Adnan for the crime. I don't see how Jay could have had the opportunity to kill Hay that afternoon, and it doesn't seem to make sense to me that it occurred after that afternoon (where was Hay for that time otherwise? Given that Jay is involved somehow, was he stashing her for later? That seems bizzare).

I appreciate that Jay lies and has lied repeatedly. To that I would argue the following:

1)He was trying to hide his drug use and involvement in the crime to a certain extent, to downplay it.
2)He was clearly coached to make the state's evidence better (I appreciate that this is not something the state should be doing, but I don't see that it necessarily makes Adnan innocent)
3)while the intercept interview contradicts what he said at trial, it is 15 years after the fact, so I wouldn't put a great deal of weight on it.
4)It's not impossible that Jay was even more involved in the crime than he initially claimed, and thus tried to hide that fact.

I don't think I can say anything with any certainty. The timeline of all this is hazy, and the case the state made just doesn't actually fit the facts of what seems to have occurred.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:52 AM on February 2, 2015


Is it purely motive?

I talked about this a lot in the other thread (that's probably closed now). I agree with most of your analysis, but here's how I resolve the apparent conflicts: I think Jay's actual account was convincing to the police. That, though, is an unpublished account, not on the record. They were concerned he would not make a sympathetic or reliable witness and that one (already known to be unreliable person's) eyewitness account abslutely demanded corroborating evidence, so the whole conviction wouldn't rest on Jay's word. So they worked the cellphone data up into something that could corroborate with a story Jay told. I think that timeline and rationale for each call and everything about the cellphone data was all sorts of manipulated and twisted and misconstrued. But I don't think that much of that really matters in relation to the factual events. I think all of that was relatively instrumental - they just had to find some way to make it sound like it made sense. But I suspect that what Jay really told them in the time before the confession tape started rolling is what gave the state enough certainty of Adnan's guilt to make a case around it.

I also think it's possible Jay helped kill Hae or at least witnessed it, but that the testimony they scripted was structured so as to remove any possibility of charges of murder or accessory to murder before the fact. That carries a different set of penalities than accessory after the fact, which is what he pleaded to. That would explain a lot of elements in his narrative where he took pains to demonstrate malice aforethought but to dissociate himself from direct involvement pre-Hae's death.

I agree, the evidence presented at trial should not have been enough to convict anyone. This show clumsily made people curious about how weird and messed up our justice system can be, which is a benefit, though had it been done more masterfully it would have offered something much better. But my ultimate conviction is that there was never anything new Serial could hope to reveal, because Jay's original narrative to the police, which we will probably never know, was likely so convincing that no one on the prosecution or on the police force really cared how they convicted Adnan, just that it got done.

As you say, we'll see if the DNA offers anything.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Serial" Prosecutor Blows Off Interview: Is He Hiding Something?

A very strong and interesting piece from a former prosecutor.
posted by readery at 2:13 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


But my ultimate conviction is that there was never anything new Serial could hope to reveal, because Jay's original narrative to the police, which we will probably never know, was likely so convincing that no one on the prosecution or on the police force really cared how they convicted Adnan, just that it got done.

Like anyone else, you're entitled to your opinion. However, I just have to say, it is more than a little frustrating reading this. You have spent what feels like an awful lot of time in Serial threads chastising others for speculating, and tut-tutting about being objective/more expert/etc. And yet, you now admit that your own theory of the case is, summarized: "the prosecution probably had a good reason (which we will never know) for all their malfeasance".

If you want to engage in rampant speculation, far be it from me to stop you -- but you can't have it both ways. You can't try to act the voice of dispassionate rationality, while also giving the state (and only the state) more or less unending benefit of the doubt.
posted by tocts at 6:49 PM on February 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


A very strong and interesting piece from a former prosecutor.

Wow, I read that as a very amateurish blog and a nearly information-free article by a lawyer pursuing a career commentating on TV. Clickbait, in other words.

you can't have it both ways.

Oh, sure I can. I'm just sharing my gut sense, not presenting it as gospel or defending it to the death; but I'm also as free as anyone to say that some other narratives don't pass a basic smell test. Some really are a stretch. I have no way to prove my speculation; it doesn't look like I ever could, if I were right, or that Serial, or any other journalistic endeavor, ever could. But it would explain just about every contradictory and confusing element of the case, the possibility is entirely present in the order of events, and it accords with my understanding of the kind of thing that happens in plea deals, so sure, that's my working theory.

But also, any rational/objective evaluator has to spend some time considering the case as it might have looked to the state, because the whole podcast was slanted to call that benefit of the doubt into question. We had an overabundance of that perspective, and yet we had no strong anti-state advocacy in the (non)conclusion. Tougher reporting would have pushed harder in certain of these areas and done more to shed light on them, and common practice. That's the main thing I've been saying. All my criticisms would stand just the same even if I personally advanced no theory.

Also, I still think it was malfeasance.
posted by Miko at 7:11 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Miko: not presenting it as gospel or defending it to the death

While I like an awful lot of your comments, i've mostly stopped reading the Serial threads here because you are doing just that. It seems like they've become The Miko Show and I don't really enjoy reading that sort of One Against All sort of dynamic here.
posted by pseudonymph at 2:40 AM on February 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, I still think it was malfeasance.

And I think this is key. Even if we can argue ourselves into a position where it seems the most likely outcome is that Adnan did it, we are left with lot of uncertainties, because the state decided to rely on coaching a witness into saying whatever he needed to say. They could have pursued the physical evidence more closely, but I guess they found Adnan's prints and decided that was enough. I really hope that the DNA evidence will provide closure to this case, one way or another, but at such a time remove, who knows?

In a way, I can sort of see a police officer's dilemma when it comes to "bad evidence". The truth is that even in the best case, you are probably going to have lots of little things that don't make sense, because life doesn't necessarily tie up in a neat bow. It's got to be tempting, once you get to the point that you are convinced you know who did it, to just concentrate on evidence that incriminates them. The problems with that are apparent, however

1-It allows for confirmation bias, and essentially means you can't prove yourself wrong along the way because you won't look closely at anything that disagrees with you.
2-It also means that if someone happens to examine your case more closely later on they will find lots of problems that you don't seem to have dealt with. Because you didn't.

The funny thing about the Asia letter is that it has little impact on the guilt of Adnan: it's absolutely clear that the claim the state made about the timing of the murder was incorrect and based on a faulty reading of the call record, and encouraging Jay to lie accordingly to make the timeline fit. Had the state made a more careful case to begin with, and hadn't encouraged their witness to lie repeatedly to fit what they thought the facts were, then the Asia letter wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. Instead, we get the prosecutor apparently lying to her to protect his conviction. I guess it's asking too much for prosecutors to actually care about whether they deserve to get a conviction based on the case they've presented.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:32 AM on February 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maryland special appeals court grants Adnan's lawyers' "leave to appeal".
posted by progosk at 11:04 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


More coverage (more of the same anyhow) from the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.
posted by peeedro at 3:01 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems like they've become The Miko Show

Well, you're free not to read, but I'm basically just responding to things people have challenged/queried me on. I have no desire to have a show.This is just what it's like when a person has a minority opinion.
posted by Miko at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2015


A new piece about emotion and memory from the New Yorker: Why We Remember So Many Things Wrong
posted by Miko at 9:31 AM on February 9, 2015


The Baltimore Sun finally gets to the bottom of the most curious aspect of the story, the perpetual shrimp sale at the Crab Crib [autoplaying video].
posted by peeedro at 7:33 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


That was awesome.
posted by Miko at 3:06 PM on February 10, 2015


Ken Silverstein's essay about leaving First Look Media includes some background about publishing the Serial articles on the Intercept.
Publishing the Serial stories was a huge headache: There were constant delays and frustrations getting them out, even after it became clear they were drawing huge traffic. Our internal critics believed that Natasha and I had taken the side of the prosecutors—and hence the state. That support was unacceptable at a publication that claimed it was entirely independent and would be relentlessly adversarial towards The Man. That held true even in this case, when The Man successfully prosecuted a killer and sent him to jail.

Some colleagues, like Jeremy Scahill, were upset by the first installment of Natasha’s interviews with Jay, the state’s flawed-but-convincing key witness, and our co-bylined two-part interview with the lead prosecutor, Kevin Urick, both of whom had refused to speak to Sarah Koenig for her Serial podcast. Jeremy even threatened to quit over the second installment, according to two of my colleagues who witnessed what they described as his “temper tantrum” in the New York office. He told them he couldn’t believe that we’d so uncritically accepted the state’s view of the murder—even though our stories were backed up by our own research, our unique reporting and our reading of court documents. One day at the office, frustrated, Natasha wrote “Team Adnan” on a sign on Jeremy’s office door.
posted by gladly at 10:12 AM on February 27, 2015


It is fascinating that Silverstein thinks that (a) their pieces demonstrated that their own research was on display and backed up the prosecutorial positions and that (b) that anecdote of Vargas-Cooper continuing her childish us-v-them crap in the office at all bolsters his case.
posted by phearlez at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can't speak to the gossip in that essay, but I can say that Vargas-Cooper's pieces were terrible. There was no hard questioning of the state's theory, and a lot of pretty childish mocking of alternatives it what at the very least was a messy case.
posted by spaltavian at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


STOP THE PRESSES, his former employer wanted his company issued laptop back.

How does he not see how petty a complaint that is?

I am happy they were able to secure interviews with Wilds and Urick. I am frustrated they did the exact same softball questions Silverstein is railing against. I am bewildered at the idea there was independent research that backed up those stories. Where?
posted by politikitty at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I don’t care whether you like it or not, just read it."

Uh. Hm. Sure, dude.

What I felt like was most evident in the Cooper-Vargas stories was lack of an editor. The thesis, that the state had done a thorough job in indicting the correct individual, just did not come through in any of the work. In fact, the most that they did was softball interview some folks who were part of this case. It's strange to hear that in their minds they were really moving the needle.
posted by amanda at 8:00 AM on February 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


What Pisses me off about the whole Adnan Syed case is that no kne has ever given any real, viable evidence tying Syed to the crime.
Cell phone 'evidence'? "From LL2" has totally despoiled that. 'Jay's' testimony? He has almost literally never told the same story twice? Evidence gathered at the site? Oh, that's right there was no evidence gathered at the site. It's like seriously, dude, how the fuck can you say this guy is guilty?
There's just no there, there.
There has been whispering, like the 'rumor' S.K. brings up, but fucking come on, if they aren't willing to swear to it, it's not much more substantial than like that crazy story about XYZ doing ABC that time with PQR.
Put up or shut up. I didn't leave 'Serial' thinking Syed was innocent but I've yet to hear of any evidence that comes anywhere close to proving he is guilty.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:28 AM on March 1, 2015 [2 favorites]




I'll be honest, I was kind of hoping for Deflategate.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:26 AM on September 23, 2015


I'm torn as to whether I want a high-profile case (or one that's ongoing) at all.
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2015


People forget that when Serial started, we weren't told that it would be a mystery, or that it would unfold in real time. We were just told that it would be a TAL-type story, but told over 10 episodes. I think it would be really funny if Season 2 ended up being just some dumb David Sedaris story.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:02 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


We did know it would be some kind of investigative report -- I thought it would be like that judge who was doing weird stuff about drug court, or the union boss in the school district, or one of the many stories they have done with ProPublica.

I don't see a date for season 2, though.
posted by jeather at 10:07 AM on September 23, 2015


The Bowe Bergdahl story is a good choice IMHO, full of strong personal opinions and a central mystery. Also a fan of any new reporting on the lives of US military who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Serial still hasn't confirmed that this is what they're doing though, right?
posted by Nelson at 11:06 AM on September 23, 2015


People forget that when Serial started, we weren't told that it would be a mystery, or that it would unfold in real time.

Er...it's not hard to debunk that notion. Introducing Serial: "This murder story we've been working on, it's captivated all of us at Serial for a year. Once we started looking into it, we realized the story was so much messier and more complicated -- and more interesting -- than what the jury got to hear. We hope you’ll get sucked in the way we have."

Podcast Description: " The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. Sarah won't know what happens at the end of the story until she gets there, not long before you get there with her. "

First episode summary: "It's Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he's innocent - though he can't exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found."

So, they advertised it as about a crime, as "messy" and "complicated," and would "suck you in" with its loose threads and people they're trying to find who haven't been heard from yet, and the reporter "won't know what happens" until the end. Of course they were advertising it as a mystery unfolding in real time.
posted by Miko at 11:26 AM on September 23, 2015


Serial still hasn't confirmed that this is what they're doing though, right?

Looks like The Hollywood Reporter overstated it -- from the Maxim story they cite:
according to several anonymous sources, one of the two upcoming seasons of the wildly popular podcast will focus on the infamous case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl...

Maxim also spoke with two former members of Bergdahl's unit in Afghanistan who say they have been interviewed by Serial producers.
A production manager for Serial and TAL said:
We'd very much appreciate if fellow journalists would give us some room and not feel the need to attempt to dig into and try to figure out what you think we might be doing, especially since we're actively reporting stories, and having a bunch of wild speculation out there makes our job reporting harder. Doesn't feel very menschy. In any case, here's what I can tell you: The Serial staff is currently working on several things simultaneously: Season 2, Season 3, and some other podcast projects. For now we're not talking publicly about anything that we're working on.
posted by Etrigan at 11:30 AM on September 23, 2015


Actually, the initial announcement just said it was a "crime story" that would last 12 episodes that you would get caught up in, not that it would be a murder or that it would unfold in real time.
posted by jeather at 11:31 AM on September 23, 2015


No "actually" about it; no need to limit ourselves to thinking that Ira Glass's tease on his show was the full advance promotion, and anyway, it literally includes the phrase "the thing unfolds week after week." Everything I posted also came before the show started to air or at the first episode, so I don't think listeners have "forgotten" anything - the show was presented this way from the get-go. I think it's a real stretch to say it wasn't pitched to the audience as an unfolding mystery. From the get-go, it was. The very definition of "mystery" is pretty close to "unfolding" + "crime story."

We'd very much appreciate if fellow journalists would give us some room and not feel the need to attempt to dig into and try to figure out what you think we might be doing, especially since we're actively reporting stories, and having a bunch of wild speculation out there makes our job reporting harder.

So, they don't seem to have learned anything.
posted by Miko at 4:00 PM on September 23, 2015


You're right. I forgot that. I mostly meant my comment as a goofy joke.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:03 PM on September 23, 2015


Doesn't feel very menschy.

Oh god. When I heard about the topic I started looking forward to the next season, but this line instantly threw me right back into the exasperation I felt with season 1. That adjective really sums up their reporting ambitions, doesn't it?

Serial: where the reporting is, above all else, menschy.
posted by painquale at 2:20 AM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


The directors of The Lego Movie have secured the rights to a behind-the-scenes TV show about the making of Serial.

Please let it be in Lego form. Pleeease...
posted by Etrigan at 6:48 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: "TV show about the making of Serial"

Oh wow. When I heard the news originally, I assumed they were making a show about the Hae Min Lee case. A TV show about the making of a podcast. The future is weird.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:35 AM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm going to make a new podcast, it will be about the making of the tv show about the making of Serial.
posted by jeather at 8:00 AM on October 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would like to buy the book rights to your podcast, jeather.
posted by Etrigan at 8:12 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


New, from Rock Steady Studios, Grand Theft Serial: The Game Of The Book About The Podcast About The TV Show About The Podcast.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:16 AM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to see the PewDiePie playthrough of that.
posted by Etrigan at 9:51 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's recreate the playthrough with Legos.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:51 PM on October 2, 2015


If someone could do a storify of the twit feed of the film of the of the play through of the game of the book of the doc of the TV show of the podcasts that would be tops because I'm not really up on that...
posted by From Bklyn at 1:08 AM on October 3, 2015




We need to talk about Hae's boyfriend, Don.

Jeeesus.
posted by Etrigan at 10:12 AM on October 15, 2015


I don't really understand how that is much of a development at all, since of course, if Don had said he spent the day with his mom, his mom would be absolutely credible in terms of verifying that alibi. Same for the stepmother thing. Having a personal connection to someone doesn't make their testimony suspect.

The time card thing is kind of fishy, but it's the sort of thing that could just as easily be circumstantial.

Like most of the other things that people get worked up over in Serial, this is something that feels sticky because it sounds like damning evidence from an episode of Law & Order. But Law & Order is fiction, and this is real. Don's alibi being his mom and/or stepmom doesn't make him a murderer.
posted by Sara C. at 10:29 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don's alibi being his mom and/or stepmom doesn't make him a murderer.

If you had been on the jury in the trial of Adnan Syed and this collection of evidence about a different suspect -- the current boyfriend, a.k.a. Suspect Number One in any investigation -- was presented to you, don't you think it would raise the specter of reasonable doubt about Adnan, or at least about the entire rest of the investigation?
posted by Etrigan at 11:05 AM on October 15, 2015


Maybe, and I agree that's worth pursuing by actual lawyers who are really working on a legal case and not making a podcast (or related to the defendant, as I believe at least one of the "Undisclosed" podcasters is).

But for us, fans of a podcast that plays on police procedural media in order to gin up traffic, engagement, or whatever Serial is meant to deliver? Seriously, working with your mom doesn't make you a killer.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 AM on October 15, 2015


Maybe, and I agree that's worth pursuing by actual lawyers who are really working on a legal case and not making a podcast (or related to the defendant, as I believe at least one of the "Undisclosed" podcasters is).

But for us, fans of a podcast that plays on police procedural media in order to gin up traffic, engagement, or whatever Serial is meant to deliver? Seriously, working with your mom doesn't make you a killer.


Some of us actually care whether justice was done more than whether Sarah Koenig has a nice voice. Complaining that this came out because of a podcast is like saying "Ta-Nehisi Coates' work is okay, but really it's just clickbait for The Atlantic."
posted by Etrigan at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


What was not revealed on Serial, but is corroborated by the police and prosecutorial casework, is the following:

Huh? I remember that this was all revealed on Serial, and a quick look of the transcript from Episode 12 verifies that that is definitely the case. Only the last bullet point about what was emphasized to Urick wasn't included in the episode.

Plus, like Sara C., I don't find it incredibly weird that when both your mom and stepmom work at LensCrafters, you might end up getting a job there too - which seems to be the bloggers' entire basis for suggesting the alibi verifications are suspect. It falls short of a "dun dun DUNNN" moment. Should the police have looked harder at Don? Probably. But because his family seems to have helped each other get job opportunities at the same company? No, that's not evidence that he murdered someone.
posted by Miko at 11:29 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Besides which, jurors using this to get to reasonable doubt are as much of a problem as anything else that actually went wrong in the real case.

In an alternate universe where Don's alibi was hammered hard by the defense, resulting in Adnan going free and Don rotting in jail for 15 years, there's an identical podcast with a loyal fanbase that insists Don is innocent and the police didn't scrutinize Adnan enough.
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want to say that I sure hope you "eh whatever" folks are never on my jury if I'm being brought up on charges of murder that don't include one single bit of physical evidence, but that's only one small part of it. I also hope that these sorts of credibility-challenging elements of other suspects' alibis are brought up at my trial.

I'm white so I don't need to also hope that they look at the decedent's current boyfriend for more than 3 seconds after he has a family member alibi him before they jump to my scary sure-to-flee-the-country-because-I-am-muslim ass.

In an alternate universe where Don's alibi was hammered hard by the defense, resulting in Adnan going free and Don rotting in jail for 15 years, there's an identical podcast with a loyal fanbase that insists Don is innocent and the police didn't scrutinize Adnan enough.

This is a ridiculous either-or. It's not necessary for Don to be convicted for Adnan to have reasonable doubt. I don't even necessary need to believe Adnan is innocent - I'm on the fence - to look at the way this case was investigated, prosecuted, and defended and be disgusted.
posted by phearlez at 11:36 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Somebody going to jail for murder because the defense attorney "hammered" them on the witness stand only happens in Matlock and Perry Mason.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:38 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


An alibi that comes from your mother is only "credibility challenging" on Law & Order.

I'm not "eh whatever" about it, I'm "let the professionals sort it out" about it. Me feeling like they got the wrong guy on that kewl true crime podcast is not the same thing as them actually getting the wrong guy.
posted by Sara C. at 11:39 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I sure hope you "eh whatever" folks are never on my jury

Oh, don't worry, most juries are way, way worse than we are.

don't include one single bit of physical evidence

...like these allegations against Don?

Do we need to go over again what "reasonable doubt" really is?

"Reasonable doubt is not mere possible doubt. It is that state of the case which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence leaves the minds of the jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction to a moral certainty of the truth of the charge.""
posted by Miko at 11:40 AM on October 15, 2015


[A couple comments deleted. This needs to not get personal, please take a step back if you need to cool off.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:49 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember that this was all revealed on Serial, and a quick look of the transcript from Episode 12 verifies that that is definitely the case.

The bullet points (edited for space):
  • ...The police never interviewed anyone who was supposedly working with Don at the Hunt Valley location that day.
  • The manager at the Hunt Valley location was none other than Don’s mother.
  • ...those records showed that Don had only worked at the Owings Mills location that week, and had not worked at all on January 13, 1999.
  • ...He then had a conversation with the LensCrafters legal department, who, a few days later, found an additional time card showing that Don had worked at the Hunt Valley store on the day of Lee’s disappearance/murder.
From the transcript:
...he told her he had to work the next day at 9am. It was supposed to be his day off from the LensCrafters at the Owings Mills Mall where they both worked, but Don said he arranged to fill in for a friend at the store in Hunt Valley.
...
Don’s alibi was solid. His computer generated time card said he’d arrived at work at 9:02 a.m. on the 13th, taken lunch from 1:10 to 1:42, clocked out at 6 p.m. But Don’s manager at the Hunt Valley store was his Mom, so that didn’t look great.
I'm not seeing the major points of three of those bullet points in the transcript.
posted by Etrigan at 11:51 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is the first that I'm hearing his mom was not actually at the store.

His "alibi" never actually saw him. His alibi is relying solely on the fact that she believes her son would show up to work like he promised, and not leave without punching out.

Fuck that. That is not the definition of an alibi. He has a time card with no witnesses.
posted by politikitty at 12:11 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is not the definition of an alibi. He has a time card with no witnesses.

I think that's a fair alibi, just not a great one. The thing that makes it anger-inducing is that it was seemingly sufficient to drop him from further investigation in favor of a brown kid who they mounted a hugely racist bail denial process for and then convicted in absence of any physical evidence. Add on that they seemingly hid how meh an alibi it was, preventing defense from raising it as an alternate theory at trial - all the more important when you're fighting a charge w/o physical evidence - and it smells a lot like so much racist "justice" in our country these last hundred years.

I'm not sure how optimistic I am that Adnan's defense would have raised it effectively, given her other missteps, but that doesn't make it any less shitty if they engaged in shenanigans when they shared discovery items.
posted by phearlez at 12:21 PM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's circumstantial, and far less than what has been implied previously. It appears the time card was collected as an afterthought during the investigation. To prevent the defendant from accusing another possible perpetrator.

Even a cursory investigation should have validated that someone saw him. He worked at a retail location. He had to have other co-workers on site. The manager is only an acceptable witness if they saw the employee working.

The fact that the manager is his mother still makes it suspect that she might lie to protect her son, as I adamantly argued earlier in the thread. But totally unacceptable that her understanding of the schedule was sufficient. She couldn't validate that he was there, and it would have been easy to find someone who could.

That's shitty work. And that's the case even if Don is innocent.
posted by politikitty at 1:07 PM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Abraham Waranowitz (cell phone expert at Adnan's trial) recently signed an affidavit that calls his original testimony into question.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not seeing the major points of three of those bullet points in the transcript.

You've gotta be careful with GDocs; they don't respond well to Ctrl-F.

The bullet points (edited for space):
...The police never interviewed anyone who was supposedly working with Don at the Hunt Valley location that day.


I'm not sure we know this, just that it wasn't in Serial or any of the citizen-detective blogs and hasn't turned up as a significant document. Maybe they didn't but it's not a "never," it's an unknown.

...The manager at the Hunt Valley location was none other than Don’s mother.

From the transcript: Don’s alibi was solid. His computer generated time card said he’d arrived at work at 9:02 a.m. on the 13th, taken lunch from 1:10 to 1:42, clocked out at 6 p.m. But Don’s manager at the Hunt Valley store was his Mom, so that didn’t look great. Don said he was anxious throughout the investigation.

...those records showed that Don had only worked at the Owings Mills location that week, and had not worked at all on January 13, 1999.

From the transcript: It [1/13] was supposed to be his day off from the LensCrafters at the Owings Mills Mall where they both worked, but Don said he arranged to fill in for a friend at the store in Hunt Valley

Yes, the Owings Mills records show that \he did not work there on Jan 13. But of course, we've learned that the records are store by store, so his having not worked at Owings Mills says nothing about whether he worked elsewhere on January 13.

...He then had a conversation with the LensCrafters legal department, who, a few days later, found an additional time card showing that Don had worked at the Hunt Valley store on the day of Lee’s disappearance/murder.

Checks out with his communication to Hae. The additional/separate record is exactly what you would expect to find if what he said to Hae was true - that he filled in at that store that day at the last minute - and if the stores did not share or combine records until payroll submission.

Been over this all a few times and still not sure where people see a "gotcha." He wasn't supposed to work at Hunt Valley or Owings Mills on his day "off;" he offered to work at Hunt Valley to cover for a colleague; his time card shows he did work at Hunt Valley; since the stores didn't communicate with each other these records weren't previously associated; we don't know whether anyone at Hunt Valley testified that he worked that day.

I don't see any new info in the new blog posts except the stepmother relationship, and that's far from enough to be evidence of guilt. So far I just see a guy who had a lot of family working for one company - not that unusual. And who would you call if you needed someone to work at the last minute on someone else's day off? Probably family. They have the hardest time saying no.
posted by Miko at 9:26 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember that this was all revealed on Serial, and a quick look of the transcript from Episode 12 verifies that that is definitely the case.
...
I'm not sure we know this, just that it wasn't in Serial...


Mm hm.

I don't see any new info in the new blog posts except the stepmother relationship, and that's far from enough to be evidence of guilt.

OH MY GOD no one here is saying "Yep, I am 100 percent convinced that Don killed Hae." What some of us are saying is that these things, when added to much of the other bad investigation and circumstantial evidence and issues with testimony and so on and so forth, indicate to us that there are significant issues with Adnan being in prison and the case being closed.
posted by Etrigan at 6:39 AM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mm hm.

Do you not understand the difference between those two statements? They are from separate contexts. "The police never interviewed" seems to be a non-fact - we don't know that to be the case, and Serial never said the police did interview people at the store. You can't "reveal" nothing, so nothing has been revealed, on Serial or elsewhere. An accurate statement would be "no evidence that the police interviewed...has come to light." The only new bit of information in the blog was about the stepmother, and it just isn't damning or even suspicious in and of itself. The post presented the other content as though it was new - "revealed." It's not. It was already in Serial.

There are issues with this case, sure. But (a) I don't think they're terribly unique to this case, and (b) I don't think they're going to be solved by this sort of arm's length internet detective squad; the general public really does not have sufficient tools for this. Even among the professionals, there is contention about what the issues are and whether they are issues. The public got hooked on a hot story and that's about the size of it. I wish that a tenth of the energy that's gone into all rehashing all of this could be funneled into supporting other projects around potential innocence, because it might have done some good by now.
posted by Miko at 9:20 AM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do you not understand the difference between those two statements? They are from separate contexts.

You said that it was definitely the case that this was all revealed on Serial. The claim that no one who worked with Don on that day at that location had been interviewed is absolutely something that could have been "revealed" or even addressed, because this blog post did just that. If you want to claim that this claim is wrong, fine. But don't hand-wave it away with "Oh, Serial already covered that", because they did not.

I wish that a tenth of the energy that's gone into all rehashing all of this could be funneled into supporting other projects around potential innocence, because it might have done some good by now.

CTRL-F "posted by Miko": 40 results
posted by Etrigan at 10:49 AM on October 16, 2015


This is the first that I'm hearing his mom was not actually at the store.

I think you're getting mixed up on this. On the day of Hae's disappearance, 1/13/99, Don worked 9am-6pm at the Hunt Valley location. The general manager Anita, Don's mother, was on the schedule for that day. You can look at the additional subpoena production to verify this.

There's no record of the police verifying Don's alibi with any employee of the Hunt Valley location, his mother included. But, on Feb 1, the manager of his usual work location, the Owens Mills store, provided Det. O'Shea with the hours that he worked at Hunt Valley. These hours given on Feb 1 match the hours on the timecard produced months later.

Now the Serial Dynasty guy is saying that the Owens Mill manager who provided the alibi is Don's mother's partner, and has been living with Don's mother since 1993 and legally changed her last name to the same as Don's mother in 2007.

If true, for me the big takeaway is that the negative employee reviews that Susan Simpson posted to drag Don through the muck take on a whole new light. I can see a hectoring stepmother in those very personal and critical reviews.
posted by peeedro at 11:32 AM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


this blog post did just that

No. It didn't provide a specific source, it just made a general assertion.

CTRL-F "posted by Miko": 40 results

I'm not referring to just this thread, which has taken a small amount of my time, but to the entire vast pile of production that has centered on this radio show. It's truly astounding. Personally, when it comes down to activism, these don't represent my primary action issues, but those who claim to care very much about a poor legal system and the imprisonment of the possibly innocent are not investing their time in particularly productive ways.
posted by Miko at 12:45 PM on October 16, 2015


Yeah, I went back and realized I was conflating the stepmom and mom. It didn't seem worth clarifying since I still couldn't tell if his mom was at the store.

Which I still think is terrible. They asked his step-mother to confirm that he was at a different store, when she would not have been in a position to visually confirm that he was there. Maybe she asked his mother, and relayed her answer to the cops. But it seems weird they would leave that out, or not just ask to hear it directly so that they closed that loop.

(I'm also surprised that your link includes Anita, but I don't see Donald, written in or otherwise. Or any indication of someone on the schedule who was crossed out, creating the need for Donald to be at the store. I understand a lot of the uploads are not complete, but there are enough adjustments I would have expected it.)
posted by politikitty at 1:05 PM on October 16, 2015


Or any indication of someone on the schedule who was crossed out, creating the need for Donald to be at the store.

That's on the list of things people find hinky about Don timesheet. Supposedly, Don was covering a shift for somebody else. He works 9-6 as lab tech. The other lab techs that day, Mark and Kevin, are scheduled for 11-9 and 1-9, so whose shift was he covering? There's no documentation on who was there or who called out.
posted by peeedro at 1:22 PM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think there's something kind of strangely intense in your comments in this thread Miko. I mean, if you don't like the show, I guess I"m not clear why you're so engaged in debate about it? It seems basically harmless.

Personally, I do enjoy the show, and as someone concerned with prison justice issues, I think choosing an example case is a useful tool for connecting the general public to a large, complex issue that impacts many, many people. And advocating for justice for one person could serve a wider goal of justice for a large number of people. Even Innocence Projects deal with their cases one by one, not a large, system level. It's better to do something than nothing, and criticizing advocates for focusing on this case instead of some other cases seems problematic unless it's coming from someone who is primarily focused on this issue themselves.

In terms of the show itself, again, I personally think it's great storytelling and I love it and I see why people obsess over it for that reason, but again, if it's not your personal cup of tea, I don't really get the intensity of your engagement with it.

I mean, one negative comment seems totally understandable, I like to share my thoughts and feelings about media I don't like as much as media I do like, but I don't get the ongoing passion.
posted by latkes at 1:24 PM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Miko, I think that's an incredibly cynical and short sighted way to view the impact of Serial.

Most hobbies are inconsequential and a useless way to spend their free time, and a fascination with Serial is no different.

On the Blue, people spend an enormous amount of energy arguing their positions. They willingly try to break down complex ideas, and provide research fundamentally for no other reason than they want to. The cost benefit analysis of that effort just doesn't work unless they are enjoying some element of it. Whether it's an outlet for their frustration, it makes them feel better about voicing their position, or just enjoy discussing the topic.

They like the puzzle of a real Law & Order episode. I understand that some people find that exploitative or naive. But they're getting a lot of exposure to how imperfect the system is. Sara C and you both seem very comfortable that it's not as clean as Law & Order. But for others, it's a very personal exploration of how the system doesn't work.

If it helps them keep an open mind on a jury, win. If it changes their minds at the voting polls, win.

I don't see why we need to sit in judgment of anyone on this front. This is evidence of raised social consciousness. They don't have to do anything else.
posted by politikitty at 1:41 PM on October 16, 2015


I think there's something kind of strangely intense in your comments in this thread Miko. I mean, if you don't like the show, I guess I"m not clear why you're so engaged in debate about it?

I am fairly passionate on issues around journalism -- that's the reason I'm interested in this whole phenomenon and how people are making sense of it (or trying to). But I don't think it's strange, or strangely intense, on MetaFilter, to take
a strong stance or two or take a different perspective than the majority does. You may be overestimating the degree of my emotional involvement. I also think that people have come at me with some pretty heated commentary (especially in Phase I of this now-ancient thread), which sort of makes my own replies look as though they're part of a mutually heated exchange, when they're just replies.

I don't see why we need to sit in judgment of anyone on this front.

Eh, if it weren't for the more high-flown claims about justice I wouldn't needle. I think most people interact with the show as entertainment, even when they assert that it's more important than that, and that's something I find interesting and a little troubling.

If it helps them keep an open mind on a jury, win. If it changes their minds at the voting polls, win.

You make a good point.
posted by Miko at 2:30 PM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I did a binge listen this week to two of the podcasts that have ridden on Serial's coattails, Undisclosed and Truth and Justice (née Serial Dynasty). In a nutshell, they are both geared towards exploring the evidence of the Adnan Syed case and both pretty heavily tilted towards trying to exonerate Adnan.

Undisclosed is hosted by three attorneys, Rabia Chaudry, a member of Baltimore's Muslim community at the time of the Hae Min Lee murder, an advocate for the Syed family, and the person who turned Sarah Koenig onto the story; Susan Simpson, a Washington DC attorney; and Colin Miller, a professor at the Univ. of South Carolina School of Law. From as best I can tell, they met on the Serial Reddit and that collaboration turned into their podcast.

Truth and Justice is hosted by Bob Ruff. He's a a firefighter and arson investigator. And he has a great voice for radio, deep and authoritative. He's managed to convince a couple of the high school friends of Adnan and to go on his podcast, and he's pulled his law enforcement strings to host some decent interviews with Jim Trainum, Michael A. Wood, Jr., and Jim Clemente.

They are both pretty awful, as far as podcasts go. Undisclosed is especially bad, it's a huge wall of text, an hour of legalese without any attention paid to pacing or storytelling. It's easy to fall asleep to, I have to listen to each episode twice to extract any information from it. They present a slipstream of minute details and legal what-have-yous without any check-in to the big picture. It's attorneys hyperventilating, with great conviction, to details, theories, and strategies. The latest episodes have been better, they are putting in musical cues to give the listener a moment to process the story, but still hard listening.

Truth and Justice is a little better, as far as listenability goes. About a third of each show is cheerleading for the true believers, which is probably good for fundraising. I have strong reservations about his impartiality. He'll spend 20 minutes building up a theoretical explanation of an aspect of the case, based on nothing by speculation, then call people who disagree with his speculation "ignorant," then lay down a new truth bomb that his investigation has uncovered. Which just makes me want to wait for some kinda 3rd party verification of his "discovery." He's got a great voice, but he really seems to love hearing it.

And that makes me appreciate Serial, where I felt like Sarah Koenig at least was being fair about interpreting the evidence that she discovered. The lawyers at Undisclosed remain detached between theories and evidence, but Bob Ruff is so partisan in his presentation that I'm like, "interesting, but I'll file that one away as 'citation needed'."

Anyhow, they have both said, at some point they will move on to look at other cases, where people have been railroaded by the system and try to use their platform to make things right. Because I'm a skeptical jerk, I'm like "yeah whatever." They seem to be greatly underestimating the coattail effect they are enjoying because of Serial's success.
posted by peeedro at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yep, it's Bergdahl.
posted by Etrigan at 3:43 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]




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