EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Randallstown Had a Home Basketball Game at 6:30 P.M. on January 13, 1999

At the trial of Adnan Syed for murdering Hae Min Lee, the prosecution introduced into evidence a note that Hae had written for her new boyfriend that referenced (1) Hae filming an interview; and (2) Hae attending a wrestling match at Randallstown High. At trial, the prosecution claimed that this note was written on January 13, 1999, the day that Hae disappeared. In the second episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, we argued that this note was actually written on January 5, 1999 because (1) Woodlawn had a reported wrestling match at Randallstown High School on January 5, 1999; (2) Woodlawn had no reported wrestling match on January 13, 1999; and (3) Randallstown had a reported wrestling match against another school (Carver) on January 13, 1999. 

Yesterday, an astute reader pointed something else out to me: Randallstown had a home basketball game on January 13, 1999.

It's right there in the Baltimore Sun in the Schedule for January 13, 1999:

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 5.36.45 AM

So, Randallstown was scheduled to host Perry H. for a basketball game at 6:30 P.M. Meanwhile, Carver was scheduled to host Pikesville for a basketball game at the same time: 6:30 P.M.

As the Scores section from the January 14th edition of the Baltimore Sun makes clear, both games were in fact played:

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.56.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 5.40.17 AM

That leaves us with two questions that someone should be able to answer: (1) Did the Randallstown/Carver wrestling match take place at Randallstown or Carver; and (2) Could Randallstown and/or Carver host a basketball game and wrestling match at the same time (e.g., did either gave two gyms or one very large gym)?

If Randallstown could host a basketball game and a wrestling match at the same time, this new information adds nothing to the table. But if Randallstown could not host both a basketball game and a wrestling match at the same time, some issues arise. We know that, at the second trial, Inez Butler testified that Woodlawn had a 5:00 bus leaving for a 6:30 wrestling match on January 13th. If Randallstown couldn't host a basketball game and a wrestling match at the same time, there is no way that this match could have been at Randallstown, which was hosting a basketball game at the same time.

At the first trial, Inez testified that the bus for the wrestling match left at 3:45. That would mean the wrestling match started at...4:30 or so? If that's the case and Randallstown could only host one sport at a time, would the wrestling match be done in time to convert the gym and start warmups for a 6:30 basketball game? I don't know. Of course, if the Randallstown/Carver wrestling match was at Randallstown, there would be no time for both that match and a Woodlawn match before the basketball game (unless Randallstown could have two wrestling matches going at the same time).

I'm about to be very busy for the next several days, so I will throw the gauntlet down to readers to figure out whether this basketball game information adds something or nothing to the table regarding the events of January 13, 1999.



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Well, I could imagine at my high school, where there was only 1 gym, they could have used the middle school gym or other school gym if there was a conflict like that. I don't recall this happening, however, for winter sports (bball, wrestling). I do remember, for example, the girls' gymnastic (just varsity, there was no JV team) team would have meets at the middle school.

Posted by: listeninginch | Apr 30, 2015 4:08:55 AM

My high school always held wresting matches in the "old gym" and basketball games in the "new gym." So, at first thought, yes, it would be possible for them to have both - however, I know nothing about the schools in question.

I would also question that a bus leaving at 3:45 would mean the match would start at 4:30, as often, teams arrive well in advance of the actual match time (and even more often, JV would wrestle/play before the varsity team). The part that I really can't reconcile, is that she was scheduled to work on the 13th. So, if the wrestling match really did start early, maybe it would have been done in time for her to make it to work, but that is very odd, as varsity sports are usually later in the day so parents can attend. Compared to my high school though, they do keep an earlier schedule (getting out around 2:00), so maybe athletics started earlier.

I just can't imagine she would have planned to be at the match (if there was one) if she was scheduled to work. And yes, it seems like her parents would have had a better idea of her schedule - or she would have a planner or something that could be referenced...

Posted by: Amanda | Apr 30, 2015 6:37:55 AM

Check the yearbook and get names of wrestlers. Ask them. They might verify other events reported in serial.

Posted by: ExitAisle | Apr 30, 2015 6:42:36 AM

I went to a small-ish high school and wrestlers would just use the cafeteria for meets if the gym was reserved for basketball. Some improvisation would make sense if on the 13th Randallstown hosted an unplanned meet from an earlier postponed date.

Posted by: Jorge | Apr 30, 2015 6:52:49 AM

I really don't understand why you write these posts without any initial research.

"If Randallstown could host a basketball game and a wrestling match at the same time, this new information adds nothing to the table." Why not call them and ask, research online, etc. It's really weird and bizarre to just throw things in the air which you agree might "add nothing to the table" when a simple call or 10 minute search could tell you.

Posted by: donkeykong | Apr 30, 2015 8:02:35 AM

I'm guessing the idea is to now say that since Debbie stated that Hae had to go to "either wrestling or basketball" match/game, Debbie is now remembering the right day because perhaps Hae was going to the basketball game? In addition to mentioning the wrestling match, Hae's note also specifically refers to her interview and I do not think there has been evidence of another potential day for the interview other than the 13th.

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Apr 30, 2015 8:15:45 AM

The easiest way to figure this out is to get any basketball schedule and wrestling schedule in the time from of say 1998-2001 and see if they ever scheduled two home games/matches on the same night at the same time...

Posted by: Curious | Apr 30, 2015 8:16:32 AM

This is from Susan's LL2 blog, quoting from Serial. A fellow student remembers the match at Randallstown that day because she had to score solo and was pissed at Hae for missing the match.

Summer’s Memory of the Randallstown Match

Summer was a junior at Woodlawn at the time of Hae’s murder, and a fellow manager for the wrestling team. She was never interviewed by the police, and did not testify at trial, but she did speak to Koenig after hearing Serial. She told Koenig that she remembered when Hae went missing, because she had been upset about Hae’s failure to show up at the Randallstown match:

Summer was friends with Hae. . . Hae told her there was an opening for another manager of the boys wrestling team, Hae was already doing that, so Summer joined her. The day Hae disappeared, the wrestling team had a match at Randallstown High School. Summer remembers talking to Hae after school in the gym area there, the wrestlers were milling around, Summer was preparing the equipment they had to load onto the bus and Hae came in to say “I’m not getting on the bus to the match, but I’ll see you there.” That wasn’t welcome news to Summer, she needed Hae by her side at the match because Hae was more experienced at scoring which can be tricky in wrestling if you’re new at it.

Summer: I was giving her hell because I’m telling her “I don’t know what I’m doing.” I needed her because we had to take points and things like that and she’s like “No no no, I just have to go and you know, pick my little cousin up.” . . .

SK: You’re sure that this is the day because it’s the day she didn’t show up?

Summer: I’m positive. I am positive. I’m very positive. I looked for her the whole time at the away game. I was really pissed because I thought that she stood me up.

Sarah Koenig: Hae told Summer she would make her own way to Randallstown High for the match. No one but me probably remembers this now but Inez Butler-Hendrix who worked at the school said Hae had told her she was planning to catch the Randallstown bus. However, Ines initially told the cops the opposite, so I trust Summer’s memory more and Summer is clear. Hae told her she was going to drive herself there. (Episode 9.)

Based on Summer’s memory of the “the wrestlers milling around” at the time of her conversation with Hae, the match against Randallstown must have been relatively early in the afternoon, since the team was already getting ready to load up onto the buses. This means that the bus was likely leaving Woodlawn somewhere between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

Summer is also very clear that she remembers the match being at Randallstown — not Chesapeake.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 30, 2015 8:33:53 AM

I notice that the Jan 13th "today" games looks cut off. It stops at Wrestling and doesn't include track and field which is below Wrestling in the Jan 14th Schedule. It should be possible to go back to the archives to see if a page was missed or even to go back to Jan 12th to see if they were scheduled for the 13th. The schedule shows where the games are scheduled to be played.

Posted by: Anonynon | Apr 30, 2015 8:40:54 AM

Ps these are the docs I am referring to:
The 13th score and schedule page

And the 14th

Dunno. Something looks missing on the 13th to me

Posted by: Anonynon | Apr 30, 2015 8:48:42 AM

Great find. But why not have your PI go to Woodlawn High and find out if they have retained the records for 1999? It's not THAT long ago, they very well might have them.

Posted by: Badger | Apr 30, 2015 9:44:09 AM

FWIW, here is a link to Woodlawn's Wrestling schedule for 2015 as a point for comparision, .

Posted by: tdfm | Apr 30, 2015 11:59:00 AM

Can we check bus bookings? Which bus company was hired to take the team to their away games? Corporations and companies keep invoices for a loooooong time.

Posted by: Elle | Apr 30, 2015 1:10:05 PM

@donkeykong these legal bloggers have pretty intensive day jobs. He doesn't Have to have the same approach as Susan. I find Colin's work interesting because he is able to clearly keep track of all the possibilities and discussion the implications of each line of possibility.

Today he dispatched the research to readers. Nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: Anonynon | Apr 30, 2015 10:14:24 PM

"would the wrestling match be done in time to convert the gym and start warmups for a 6:30 basketball game? I don't know. "

In our school, we just rolled out mats onto the basketball court, literally took 20 minutes tops to "convert" it.

Posted by: OITP | Apr 30, 2015 10:28:04 PM

I'm really wondering why some of the details haven't been asked to HML's family. I mean : it wouldn't be surprising Hae told her brother she'd have a tv interview that day or she would be visiting a wrestling match.

The only conclusion I can make is that nobody asked them or somebody did but the family doesn't want to cooperate.

Posted by: Peter Belgium | May 1, 2015 12:43:20 AM

@peter Belgium - according to viewfromll2 they did ask her brother in 1999 but he knew nothing. He would only have been about 14.

i think if she did decide to go to a game it was likely a mid-day decision since she was scheduled to work and never called to say she wasn't coming in. Plus she had made after work plans with Don so she had the intention to go to work.

I am curious though, why do you think the family would have been uncooperative?

Posted by: Anonynon | May 1, 2015 5:29:52 AM

Do you all know if the January 5 Woodlawn v Randallstown match was at Randallstown? This information would be listed in the today section of the local sports section of the January 5 Sun, and in the tomorrow section of the January 4 edition. The clipping of the results from the Jan. 6 paper doesn't indicate who was home and who was away.

I ask because Hae's note and witness statements pretty clearly are referring to a match that is away at Randallstown. Also, the likelihood of Woodlawn having two matches away at Randallstown in consecutive weeks is considerably less than a match at home and then a match away the next week. This is actually not really uncommon in high school sports.

So this information goes a long way to corroborate the theory that Hae's note and witness memory are actually referring to Jan. 5 instead of Jan. 13. I assume in your research you guys looked at the relevant sections of the 5 and 4 papers, or at least have access to them. Confirming the match was away at Randallstown on the 5 would remove a good deal of doubt in my opinion.


Posted by: OhDatsClever | May 1, 2015 7:30:42 AM

It's interesting what is being dug up even so many years later - and of course, if either of these schools have been changed or remodeled, is there any way to tell what could've happened? Any old coaches who remember the exact dates of games?

Posted by: Jordan | May 1, 2015 7:56:19 AM


Well, I really can't believe that her parents would not know that Hae was going to have a filmed interview at school. Just b/c that's an event almost everybody would tell it's relatives, right ? And if she did, then they'd know on which day as well.

Second point, about the possibility of the family not being cooperative. Of course we all understand her family went through a real tragedy. Then, after 2 trials, Adnan is getting convicted for the murder of their daughter.

So, if the family really believes the killer is in prison, why would they then be bringing out statements that could maybe free the man that's guilty in their eyes.

So, to me it all depends on whether the family believes Adnan is the right man in prison or not. If they believe he is, only official parties like police could maybe bring them to give that kind of info.

Don't forget : suppose Adnan is released one day, then maybe the real murderer may never be found, which must be very tough for Hae's family.

I can only hope that, if Adnan gets freed one day, it will be based on so much evidence that it was almost impossible for him to be the killer.

I know that from a legal point of view, reasonable doubt should be enough to be innocent, but for so many people ( eg. Hae's family) it would be better to know he
couldn't have done it. And it would even be better to find the real killer then ofcourse.

Posted by: Peter Belgium | May 2, 2015 2:23:47 AM

Is it possible that Hae was acting as a scorer for a game other than a Woodlawn game? Was it the procedure that the teams playing did not use their own scorers but scorers from other schools, in the interest of fairness? So in fact Summer could be correct if she is not referring to a match that the Woodlawn team was playing, but instead to a match that Woodlawn was scoring.

Posted by: Suessical | May 4, 2015 12:21:33 AM

Its 1999, home camcorders were all the rage. There has to be some video out there of it.

Posted by: thelawman | May 7, 2015 1:44:13 PM

I attended Woodlawn HS, and I have a friend that attended Randallstown HS that states a wrestling match and basketball game would never happen at the same time. I know from attending games there that the gym is not large enough for that. In addition, Randallstown doesn't have a lower school or an "old gym" where games would take place.

Posted by: Kynnee | May 11, 2015 11:40:54 AM

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