This week, Sarah Koenig is back with daily updates to the case of Adnan Syed. Taking a break from the (last I checked in) underwhelming second season of Serial, she’s spending the week in court as Adnan follows up on his petition for post-conviction relief. As Koenig makes clear, this isn’t a new case or a new appeal, really. It’s more a “last-ditch effort” when a prisoner’s appeals have all been exhausted. She’s going to be updating us day by day, as this hearing unfolds. Nearly a year and a half after the first episode of Serial aired, and five or six years (according to Koenig) after Syed first submitted this petition, here’s what we learned today.
Adnan’s defense attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, definitely wasn’t doing her best work.
According to Koenig, the first half of day one was all about establishing that Gutierrez had been “declining in a bunch of ways” and was not the competent legal counsel Syed deserved. Based on the testimony of two attorneys who had worked with her during this time, she was not the lawyer she had once been. This was not that Adnan had gotten stuck with a bad attorney, but rather that Gutierrez had been great, had been a “legend,” but was now seemingly in a lot of pain and passing off cases. Just generally not herself.
Asia McClain testified and came off “very well.”
McClain comes off here as the star of the day. Since most of us listeners were flabbergasted by the fact that Gutierrez’ lapse in never asking her to testify in the original trial, it seemed like this girl, who supposedly had an alibi for Adnan on the day of Hae Min Lee’s murder, appeared to be the key to this whole thing.
She finally told her story, and if you’re wondering why she finally came out of the shadows to speak, she has some very noble, beautiful answers for you. Koenig says that among her furious scribbling, she captured McClain’s statement:
I felt for justice to be served, we should put all the information on the table. I just thought it was the right thing to do.
Further, Asia was able to clear up a huge question mark surrounding her role in Adnan’s case. In a letter she wrote to Adnan, she offered her alibi as “help,” which many saw as an offer to fabricate a story. The original judge thought this sounded like she was offering to lie, but she now says all she meant was that she had heard Adnan was struggling to account for his actions and events that day, and she just wanted to offer her actual, non-fabricated help.
Asia McClain, by the way, is a stone cold fox.
Koenig seems almost a little star struck by the appearance of McClain. She describes her as “striking-looking,” saying she “strides in” to the courtroom, beautiful, tall, with “very high heels on”, bright red lipstick, and very “put together.” This is maybe apropos of nothing, but I think it’s fitting with the image many of us had of the teenaged version who hangs out in libraries and has a jealous boyfriend.
The prosecution is going to try to poke holes in her story.
Koenig is partly speculating, but she suspects the prosecution is going to attempt to prove that McClain’s memory isn’t as solid as she thinks it is. They’re already trying to get her to admit she doesn’t remember things (sometimes little things, like whether she had basketball practice on a day or not), and Koenig foresees a lot more of that.