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'Serial' Episode 6 Discussion: The Case Against Adnan Syed

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | November 3, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | November 3, 2014 |

Before we get into the week’s sixth episode of Sarah Koenig’s phenomenal podcast, Serial, a quick note: It has been requested by a producer on the show that identifying details about the people involved in the case not be revealed in the comments here unless that person has already been fully identified in the podcast. The producers are obviously concerned — and for good reason — about witnesses in the case being harassed. We will keep an eye on the comments, and if you divulge last names or any other identifying information, we’ll delete them. Please be respectful of that rule in discussing the case.

As for this week’s episode, “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” I found it to be inconclusive. Koenig basically laid out the entire case against Adnan, and there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence here to reasonably draw a conclusion that Adnan killed Hae. However, it’s just as easy — in most cases — to rebut that evidence.

Here’s a short summary of the evidence against Syed:

1. Adnan may or may not have asked Hae for a ride on the day of her murder. There is some dispute about this.

2. Adnan doesn’t really remember anything about that day because, according to him, it was a “normal” day,” despite the fact that the police called him on that day and reported that his ex-girlfriend was missing. On the other hand, he was high when the police called. and things may be a bit hazy, as a result.

3. Adnan called Hae three times the night before the murder (probably to give Hae his cell phone number). However, he never tried to contact her again after the murder, which is suspicious for someone who kept in regular contact with his ex-girlfriend. However, Adnan says he continued to get all his information about Hae from other mutual friends, so saw no reason to call and check on her after she went missing.

4. There was, I thought, a very damning letter that Hae wrote to Adnan about letting it go, and moving on after the break up. Adnan wrote, “I’m going to kill” on top of the letter. That’s either creepy and incriminating, or a teenager blowing off steam.

5. A witness, Dave, said that a neighbor boy had seen the body of a girl in the back of the trunk of a vehicle, but that neighbor boy later denied the account. Neither the hearsay witness nor the neighbor boy was mentioned at trial.

6. Kathy saw Adnan and Jay together in her living room acting suspiciously at a critical time during the day (around 6 p.m.). Adnan received a suspicious phone call and acted worried about what he was supposed to say. He looked panicked, and he and Jay went back to Jay’s car and nervously has a conversation. What’s most weird about that, however, is that the phone call possibly involved a third conspirator, otherwise why would Adnan asked that person, “What am I supposed to tell them [the cops]?”

7. The Nisha Call. If Adnan and his cell phone were separated, why did Nisha get a call between 3 and 4 (only Adnan knew Nisha). There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this call, and there is the possibility that it was a butt dial (although, cell phones in 1999 were harder to butt dial).

For me, there’s not a single piece of evidence that suggests to me that Adnan committed the murder, but the total sum of evidence does strongly suggest he was involved. I mean, sure, you could poke holes in all of the evidence, but there’s a lot of evidence that needs holes poked in it. The total sum of circumstantial evidence certainly suggests a level of involvement beyond what Adnan is admitting.

But again, and this bears repeating after each episode, we don’t know enough about Jay to draw any solid conclusions about his role. We know he was involved because he helped dispose of the body. We can assume that he made some sort of deal to testify against Adnan in exchange for some kind of immunity. The question remains, however: Did Jay mastermind a frame job beyond the assumed capabilities of a teenaged stoner? Did Jay and Adnan commit the murder together? Was there a third conspirator?

We know, without a doubt, that Jay knows what happened, although his account of the day has many inconsistencies. We do know that he and Adnan were together before and after the murder. The question is, were they together between 2:15 and 2:36?

The entire case turns on the credibility of Jay as a witness. What did he offer that was so convincing for the jury? Why didn’t Adnan’s attorney attempt to pin the murder on Jay? And this hasn’t really come up yet, but how did Adnan’s ethnicity play into the jury’s biases?

“The Case Against Adnan Syed” offered very little clarity; in fact, it only seems to muddy the waters.