Tuesday, June 2, 2015
When I learned that five witnesses subpoenaed by both the prosecution and defense had tried in vain to talk to Cristina Gutierrez (and the defense team) in the Adnan Syed trial, I immediately thought of Krista. A mutual friend to both Adnan and Hae, Krista has told me that she wished the defense used her as a character witness at trial. I also knew that Krista was one of a limited number of witnesses subpoenaed by both the prosecution and defense. Indeed, she was among the first batch of witnesses subpoenaed by the defense:
So, let's break this subpoena list down, person by person, before getting to Krista.
1. Paul was the Store Director of the PetSmart where Jay worked before getting hired at the adult video store. I wish that I had more information about why he was literally the first witness subpoenaed by the defense. So far, I can't find anything from the prosecution or defense files indicating his importance. [Update: A helpful reader notes that (page 40) Jay was fired from the PetSmart, with the discharge summary stating "do not rehire." Perhaps this is why the defense was interested in Paul.].
2. Debbie, of course, was the mutual friend to both Adnan and Hae who, besides Jay, would have been the most important witness at trial if the prosecution went with the initial timeline of Hae's disappearance. She's the one who first told police that Hae was going to see Don at the mall at 3:00 P.M. on January 13, 1999 and later told police that she saw Adnan at the guidance counselor's office at 2:45 P.M. on 1/13 before seeing Hae and "Takera" between 2:45 and 3:15 P.M. There is a record in the defense files of the private investigator calling Debbie.
3. Robert worked in the Office of Facilities Management at Coppin State College and was involved in reporting Mr. S's discovery of Hae's body. Given the focus that the defense tried to place on Mr. S, it's understandable that he was in the first batch of subpoenas.
4. Saad is Adnan's best friend, was contacted by the private investigator, and eventually testified as a defense witness at trial.
5. Aisha* was Hae's best friend; she was presented by the prosecution as the last (innocent) student to see Hae alive. Aisha testified at trial that she saw Adnan and Hae talking at the end of A.P. Psychology class. I have a record in the defense files of the private investigator calling Aisha, getting her father, and possibly planning on speaking to Aisha at a later date. Given that Krista has said the conversation Aisha overheard consisted of Hae turning down Adnan for a ride, I would love to know whether anyone on the defense team actually ended up talking to Aisha before trial.
6. Rebecca/Becky was a mutual friend to both Hae and Adnan. She was eventually served, contacted by the private investigator, and became a defense witness at trial. She testified to seeing Hae leaving school in a hurry right after class ended and was a character witness for Adnan.
7. As I said, Krista was a mutual friend to both Hae and Adnan. As you can see from the above document, whoever prepared it was verifying Krista's address. Unfortunately, whoever was trying to verify her address did a terrible job. According to Krista, she never received her subpoena. When I sent Krista a copy of her subpoena in the case, she immediately recognized the problem(s): both the city and the zip code were incorrect.
So, what about the private investigator? While I was able to find records of calls made to Debbie, Aisha, and Becky, here's the only reference to Krista in the private investigator's notes:
There's no mention of any call, and that's probably because there wasn't one. Krista says that she was never contacted by anyone on the defense team in advance of either trial.
This wasn't ineffective assistance of counsel, legally speaking, but it sure was a missed opportunity. As I noted above, Krista wanted the defense to use her as a character witness at trial. If contacted, she also could have told the defense about the normalcy of Adnan asking Hae for a ride and given important information about what happened to Adnan's ride request later in the day (assuming that the defense never talked to Aisha).
And yet, Krista was never called. Her address was never verified. The defense had no idea of the ways in which this neutral witness could have helped their client's case.
*This is one of at least a few times that Aisha's name is misspelled in this manner in the defense files.
[Update: I've been asked to post a less redacted version of the defense subpoena list. The version below just has last names* and phone numbers redacted:
I didn't redact Aisha's last name because I realized that it was mentioned on Serial, and some readers wanted confirmation that it was her name on the list.].