Friday, December 19, 2014
"When you tease apart the State’s case, you can get tripped up on details like this. Which is maybe why prosecutor, Kevin Urick, addressed this head on in his opening statement to the jury. He told them, "look at the big picture." The main plot points in Jay’s story have been consistent. He tells them that consistently, Jay "has always given the same story about what the defendant did where. Consistently, he tells Jennifer a consistent story, he tells police a consistent story about the defendant, he tells consistently the defendant’s involvement, the defendant’s actions on that day. He has never wavered on that point." Sarah Koenig, quoting the prosecutor's opening statement from Adnan Syed's trial in the fifth episode of the Serial Podcast.
In the last couple of days, I've noted how I don't think that the prosecution proved Adnan's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but how I'm on the fence about whether Adnan murdered Hae Min Lee. Now, there is no fence.
I've done twenty posts
about Sarah Koenig's Serial Podcast, which deals with the 1999 prosecution of 17 year-old Adnan Syed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, on January 13, 1999. This will be my final post about the podcast unless and until (1) the full trial transcripts are released and/or (2) something happens with Adnan's appeal.
Before this afternoon, why was I on the fence about Adnan's guilt? I kind of agreed with what the prosecutor said during his opening statement. Sure, Jay changed basically every detail of his story over his various accountings, such as where Adnan allegedly showed him Hae's body and whether Adnan and he traveled to Patapsco State Park. Indeed, the only detail that was consistent across Jay's accountings was that Adnan called him to meet him after killing Hae somewhere between 3:40 and 3:50ish, a detail that is inconsistent with (1) the prosecution's claim that this call happened at 2:36; (2) any possibility that Adnan made it to track practice on time or even at all under Jay's version of events; (3) Adnan was present for The Nisha Call.
But, but...the heart of Jay's story was consistent. I was led to believe that Jay's story was always that: (1) Adnan loaned Jay his car so that he would have an excuse to get a ride from Hae that would end in her death; and (2) Adnan loaned Jay his cell phone so he could call him to help him out after killing Hae. But then, I read a blog post by Rabia Chaudry (an attorney and the sister of Adnan's best friend), and I realized that this is far from the truth.
Let's start with (1), the idea that it was Adnan's plan to loan Jay the car. This is from the cross-examination of Jay at trial regarding his prior police statements:
And this is also from the cross-examination of Jay:
So...nope. Jay's not consistent at all. The entire heart of the prosecution's case, the key to the prosecution proving kidnapping by fraud, Jay's "consistent" claim that Adnan hatched this ruse to trick Hae...that heart has pumped its last pump. Jay is inconsistent about this story, even at trial.
Now, let's look at (2), the idea that Adnan loaned Jay his cell phone so that he could call him after he'd kill Hae and he could help him out. Again, this is Jay on cross-examination.
So...nope again. The brain of the prosecution's case, the idea that Adnan needed Jay to help him, Jay's "consistent" claim that Adnan gave him his cell phone so that he could call him when the deed was done...that brain has thought its last thought.
This is why I say this is no more fence. A fence requires me to believe the base that undergirds the infrastructure of Jay's story and decide whether his inconsistencies tear it down. That base has now been excavated. Jay's testimony was a moving target. Now, there's no target. I used to have reason to wonder whether Adnan was innocent. I now have no reason to believe he's guilty.
Now, here's all I know: There was a girl, Hae Min Lee. She was a teenager. An honors student. A good athlete. Everybody liked her. In January 1999, she was killed, and her body was buried in Leakin Park.