The final installment of the first season of Serial, “What We Know” aired today, and as expected, it offered no firm conclusions. That doesn’t mean, however, that it didn’t help many of us make up our minds about the case.
But before we get to that, a quick poll: We were very early to the Serial game — we were covering it at least a couple of weeks before most of the major outlets were — and in one of our early posts on the podcast way back in October, I put this question to our readers: Did Adnan Syed kill Hae Min Lee?
With over 5,000 people responding, only 18 percent of you were convinced that Adnan committed the murder. Forty percent were convinced that he had not, while another 40 percent simply didn’t know.
I’m curious now that the podcast has wrapped, where do you stand now?
After today’s last episode, I think I’m somewhere halfway between the “I honestly don’t know” and the “Adnan killed Hae Min Lee” camp. It was one of those episodes where minds changed two or three times throughout the course of it, and after the first 20 minutes, I was convinced of Adnan’s guilt based on the interview with Josh, Jay’s co-worker at the porn video store.
My reasoning was this: Josh had no reason to lie. He was not connected to the case, and the things that he said made sense in the context of Jay’s interrogations with the police. I feel like his hearsay evidence is more reliable than that of Jay or Adnan because there’s nothing at stake for Josh. He remembers Jay being afraid of Adnan. He remembers Jay suggesting that Adnan had threatened to sic his family upon him. He remembers Jay boasting about burying the body. That jibes. Why would he make that up?
Add to the the fact that Don — Hae’s boyfriend at the time — specifically made it a point to remember everything he did on the day that Hae Min Lee died — as opposed to Adnan — and I was convinced of Adnan’s guilt. Who could forget such a day?
A dude that was stoned, right?
But then Sarah Koenig introduced another possibility: Ronald Lee Moore, a known murderer and rapist who had been released from prison just 13 days before Hae Min Lee was killed. The same year that Hae Min Lee died and in the same city, Ronald Lee Moore also raped, strangled, and murdered Annelise Hyang Suk Lee.
Did Ronald Lee Moore kill Hae Min Lee? It’s a tantalizing possibility, isn’t it? On the other hand, it doesn’t square with Jay’s account of being able to lead the police to the car, which is the one fact that seems to definitively suggest that Jay was involved, either as the murderer or as a conspirator. But as Ms. Deirdre from the Innocence Project noted, “Big picture. Big picture,” which I assume really means, “Fingers crossed! Fingers crossed!”
But then there was also Sarah Koenig’s inability to conclude that Adnan was guilty. In fact, aside from serious doubts over the jury verdict, Sarah also seems mostly convinced that Adnan didn’t do it, too, and as the person closest to this case, I’m inclined to respect that opinion. Why would Adnan invite this podcast unless he was innocent?
Which brought me back to the “I honestly don’t know” camp with a slight lean toward guilty. Even still, I don’t want to believe that Adnan did it, and maybe that’s clouding my judgement. Maybe that’s clouding many of our judgments. I think that’s why so many of us were quick to conclude in the beginning that he had not killed Hae Min Lee: He seems like such a good guy, we want to believe in the best of him. At least when it comes to assessing guilt, maybe that is to our detriment. Despite our collective cynicism, we believe in the best of people.
While the Serial podcast may be over, you can bet your ass that we will continue to follow anything else that breaks in the case over the course of the next few months or even years. It wasn’t just Sarah Koenig and the case that hooked us; it was Adnan Syed, who we invited into our lives for three months, and with whom we all feel personally invested. He’s like the charming cousin and potential murderer we never had.
— How chilling is it that this turned this was filmed the day she died?
— The prosecutor who berated Don into trying to make Adnan sound more creepy seems like a scumbag.
— What is up with that note that Hae Min Lee left Don? Where was she going?
— I love Deirdre’s idealism, but I think it’s also blinding.
— Why did Adnan have to give permission to have Hae Min Lee’s DNA evidence tested?
Until next time …