Posted in Crime

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: a Case for Adnan Syed

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Yearbook photo of Adnan Syed.

After listening to the Serial podcast and doing extensive research of my own, I have decided that it is unlikely Adnan Syed killed his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Adnan has been jailed for the murder of Lee, based on very little evidence against him. This lack of solid evidence against Adnan is what leads me to believe that until some proof shows up, Adnan should be considered innocent.

For starters, the only reason Adnan is a suspect is because of his “friend”, Jay Wilds’ statements against him. Jay claims that Adnan killed Hae Min Lee and had Jay help him bury the body and dispose of Lee’s car. The only problem is that there is no solid evidence to support his claims, and we know that Jay is not a very credible witness because he has changed his story numerous times and is constantly high. Jay was even willing to lie to police so he wouldn’t get in trouble for selling marijuana, which should take away all of his credibility (Vargas-Cooper, 2014).

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Picture of Jay Wilds, taken by Natasha Vargas-Cooper from “The Intercept”

That said, let’s look at the evidence against Adnan Syed. Adnan seems suspicious because he is unable to remember his whereabouts at the time of Hae Min Lee’s murder, which removes the possibility of an alibi. There are also cell phone records that say Adnan’s phone was used near the place where Hae Min Lee was buried. Finally, we have Jay’s testimony.

All of this so-called “evidence” can either be explained or disproved, making the case against Adnan seem very circumstantial. For instance, Jay’s testimony should be dismissed because of his lack of inherent credibility (Simpson, 2014). His story is inconsistent and he is willing to lie, meaning he should not be taken seriously. Next, AT&T, Adnan’s cellphone company has provided an explicit disclaimer, saying that “incoming calls are not reliable for determining location” (McDonell-Parry, 2016). As well, Adnan’s lack of memory is not strange at all, in fact it might be strange that he would remember everything about that day. If nothing important happens for the day, as Adnan likely thought about the day of Hae’s murder at the time, one probably won’t remember what they were doing.

A final beacon of hope for Adnan came when Asia McClain (now Asia Chapman) provided him an alibi. McClain wrote in a note that she was with Adnan in a library at the time of Hae’s murder, therefore he could not have committed the crime (Chivvis, 2014). Asia is a credible witness who has no reason to lie for Adnan, who she was barely friends with anyway. Why are we supposed to trust the statements of someone who is known to lie when there are conflicting statements from a completely credible witness?

For now, we do not have an answer as to whether or not Adnan murdered Hae, however even Sarah Koenig, the voice of the Serial podcast, has said that “as a juror [she’d] vote to acquit Adnan Syed” (Koenig, 2014). Adnan has been fighting for seventeen years to prove his innocence and despite a lack of evidence against him, he is still in jail. I believe that Adnan is innocent and I hope that one day soon, he will be a completely free man.

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Recent image of Adnan Syed, taken by Karl Merton Ferron.

Works Cited:

Koenig, Sarah. “Episode 12: What We Know”. Serial. WBEZ Chicago, 2014. Audio blog post. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Vargas-Cooper, Natasha. “Exclusive: Jay, Key Witness From ‘Serial’ Tells His Story for the First Time, Part 1” The Intercept, 29 Dec. 2014, https://theintercept.com/2014/12/29/exclusive-interview-jay-wilds-star-witness-adnan-syed-serial-case-pt-1/. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Simpson, Susan. “Serial: Why Jay’s Testimony Is Not Credible Evidence of Adnan’s Guilt” The View from LL2, 26 Nov. 2014, https://viewfromll2.com/2014/11/26/serial-why-jays-testimony-is-not-credible-evidence-of-adnans-guilt/. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

McDonell-Parry, Amelia. “‘Serial’ Subject Adnan Syed: 4 Key Pieces of Evidence, Explained” Rolling Stone, 1 July 2016, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/serial-subject-adnan-syed-4-key-pieces-of-evidence-explained-20160701. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Chivvis, Dana. “Asia’s Letters”  Serial, 3 Oct. 2014, https://serialpodcast.org/posts/2014/10/asias-letters. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.