EvidenceProf Blog

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Defense Failed to Contact Adnan's Track Teammate Will, a Potential Alibi Witness

This seems huge to me. Yesterday, I posted an entry which discussed how Adnan's defense team failed to contact his track teammates until after October 16, 1999. But what if it turns out that at least some of these track teammates were never contacted at all? And what if one of these uncontacted track teammates was pretty clearly a potential alibi witness?

After yesterday's post, I decided to take a look back at the transcript for Episode 5 of the Serial Podcast. This was the episode in which Sarah speaks to Adnan's former track teammate, Will. Here's part of their exchange:

Sarah:....Jay goes back to Woodlawn, to get Adnan. Jay tells the cops that he gets to Woodlawn at about six p.m. and that he sees Adnan with a friend from track. The notes from March 18 say "said goodbye to track buddy, Will." 

Will: That day, he said bye to Will, and then-- oh man. (sigh)

Sarah: That is Will, from track.

Will: It’s hard to remember that one interaction.

Sarah: You mean I should have asked you fifteen years ago?

Will: Maybe five, I would have remembered. Oh man, that’s hard to remember. Gee whiz, I didn’t even know that I was a part of anything until you just told me that. Like, no one ever contacted me about anything.

Sarah: Really!

Will: Yeah, like, yeah. 

Sarah: So the cops-- No cops ever called you and said, “was Adnan at track that day?” No attorneys-- 

Will: No!

Sarah: No attorneys ever called and said, "was Adnan present at track practice that day?"

Will: I don’t remember any of that.

Where does this leave us? First, the defense team had Will's phone number. He's one of the eight teammates listed in this memorandum I posted yesterday. Second, the  defense team knew that Jay claimed that Adnan said "goodbye" to Will as Jay picked Adnan up from track practice on January 13th. 

What this means is that Will was a potential alibi witness who likely could have confirmed Adnan's attendance at track practice on January 13th. This is why he was included on the alibi notice filed by the defense with the court; he's the "William" listed toward the bottom. Indeed, he was seemingly the most concrete alibi witness based upon even Jay stating that he saw Adnan and Will together at (the end of) track practice on January 13th.

What's unknown is exactly what Will would have told the defense team in 1999, but you can easily imagine a scenario in which Will could have destroyed the State's case. Ostensibly, Will was the (only) person with Adnan at the end of track practice on January 13th. It's therefore easy to imagine that Will and Adnan might have walked over to track practice together on the 13th and arrived on time. This, of course, would have contradicted Jay's claims that he dropped Adnan off at track practice and that Adnan was late.

Of course, it's entirely possible that Will would have had no meaningful information about January 13th or that his information would have hurt Adnan. What seems clear, however, is that the defense should have had every reason to believe that Will could be an important defense witness and yet failed to contact him to determine what he knew.

This is important for two reasons. First, it is strong circumstantial evidence that the defense team might have failed to contact another potential alibi witness, which is at the heart of Adnan's current ineffective assistance claim. Second, it means that, contrary to the claim of the State's brief, the alibi notice filed by the defense is not evidence of the depth of its investigation; instead, it seems clear that at least some of these prospective alibi witnesses were not contacted.



| Permalink


What are your thoughts regarding Will’s statements later in the transcript that track started at four, rather than 3:30, and that he saw Jay on multiple occasions pick up and also drop off Adnan for practice?

Posted by: streetwriter | Jun 30, 2015 6:20:22 AM

streetwriter: I've said before that I think that track practice might have started at 4:00 some other year but at 3:30 on 1999. Also, Will is recalling events from 15 years ago, so it's easy to imagine him being mistaken. Or he could be right, and track practice did start at 4:00 in 1999.

Will certainly could have been a useless witness or a witness who hurt Adnan, but the defense had no way of knowing that without contacting him.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jun 30, 2015 6:37:56 AM

I’m inclined to think he’s mistaken and that track started at 3:30, as indeed you have indicated. Also, I don’t read much into the statement that Jay frequently drove Adnan to and from practice; in fact, it’s meaningless without further questioning. So, yes, it’s absurd that Adnan’s attorney failed to speak with Will. One of many errors by the defence counsel.

Posted by: streetwriter | Jun 30, 2015 6:59:04 AM

Hi Colin,

Where do CG's 'assistants' fit into this? Have they had anything to say about who they interviewed, why they didn't interview certain people? CG has passed on, but clearly they might have something to say?

Posted by: Andrew | Jun 30, 2015 7:00:41 AM

streetwriter: Agreed.

Andrew: They're among the potential witnesses whom we can't contact for the podcast.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jun 30, 2015 7:16:20 AM

how much of this failure to contact potential witnesses can be laid at the feet of the shady Brady-evading tactics? If CG truly didn't know timeline then it's at least a little more understandable why she didn't contact at first, and then was just unprepared to scramble and track down info once it was finally available to her as it should've been all along? Or should she have been working on the full timeline of the evening regardless of the Brady stuff so that she could account for more of the evening just in case it proved relevant?

Posted by: Matt | Jun 30, 2015 7:31:47 AM

Matt: Under any timeline, it was important to figure out whether and when Adnan went to track practice on January 13th.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jun 30, 2015 7:43:14 AM

Considering that the ramifications could be pretty harsh for lying, I'm really surprise that there aren't people coming forward with the truth by now.

Posted by: Traci | Jun 30, 2015 8:25:22 AM

Which Serial transcripts do you use, or find to be the best?

Posted by: Ken | Jun 30, 2015 10:21:56 AM

But, still Asia's testimony is the ONLY one relevant in the current appeal, correct? This can't be included at this time?

Posted by: E | Jun 30, 2015 1:21:18 PM

Doesn't it stand to reason that since it was winter and the days were shorter, that track practice must have been held at the earlier time of 330 because it was held outside that day?

Posted by: MidgeSays | Jun 30, 2015 2:47:39 PM

I was just reviewing Inez Butler's testimony today and she says the track athletes had to be there at 3:30. This was during direct, I think from the first trial. I don't have the transcript with me at the moment.

Posted by: Bacchys | Jun 30, 2015 7:16:33 PM

The one thing I'm stuck on is Jay and Andnan's relationship. The spent a lot of time together for two people who described themselves as 'casual acquaintances'. Also, why would Adnan tell a 'casual acquaitance' that he killed his girlfriend?

Posted by: erin | Jul 2, 2015 12:31:59 PM

Post a comment