EvidenceProf Blog

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why Was Adnan Syed Denied Bail After His Mistrial?

I'm glad that many readers/listeners have been so interested in the mechanics of how a court determines whether to detain or release a defendants pending trial. The decision often has a huge impact on how a defendant is able to assist in preparing his case for trial. In Episode 7 of Undisclosed, we discussed how Adnan moved to be released from incarceration after his first trial was declared a mistrial and several jurors indicated that they would have found him "not guilty." So, what happened with that motion?

I'm not sure, but I'm trying to piece things together. The mistrial was declared at Adnan's first trial on December 15, 1999. At some point thereafter, Adnan moved for pretrial release. As this letter makes clear, a hearing on this motion was originally scheduled for January 7, 2000.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 10.39.08 AM

As the letter also makes clear, Gutierrez was out of town from at least January 7, 2000 until mid-afternoon on January 10, 2000, leading to her trying to get the hearing rescheduled. Was it? I don't know. I haven't yet been able to find further documentation. I also haven't been able to find the Notice referenced in the letter.

Finally, I'm not sure whether Gutierrez was successful in having the original judge review the bail issue or whether it was the new judge mentioned in the letter. I would also like to know Gutierrez's thinking in preferring the original judge. Sure, he knew the case better, but he also denied Adnan bail the first time around. Maybe Gutierrez thought that he was close to giving Adnan pretrial release.

If that were the case, I'd be interested to know why Adnan was denied bail after the mistrial. The weight of the evidence against the defendant is a big factor in pretrial release decisions, and the jurors certainly didn't seem to think that the (incomplete) case presented against Adnan was very strong. But again, without further documentation, I can't really say anything definitive. Hopefully, I can find some answers in the files.

[Update: We posted Adnan's Motion for Review of No Bail Status on the Undisclosed website. I have now found a stamped version of that Motion in the files. The motion is stamped December 20th, so that's when the motion was filed.].



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What records do you have on this first jury poll? From the law clerk interview in Serial we have:

"they interviewed the jurors and they gave every indication that they were heading toward an acquittal."

I'd like to know what this means. Note that this clerk was not accurate about what state the case was in at the time (the State had not completed their case).

Posted by: monstimal | Jul 23, 2015 8:07:22 AM

There's Professor Colbert's affidavit that I read on Undisclosed. I think that's the best indication we have of what the jurors were thinking.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 23, 2015 8:11:02 AM

Off the subject a bit, but I listened to Serial again and recall Jay noting that Hae's lips were blue when he saw her body. Would that have been accurate based on what physically happens to the body and the timeline?

Posted by: Traci | Jul 23, 2015 8:31:40 AM

Traci: No, that would not be consistent with what happens to the body.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 23, 2015 8:33:36 AM

Any updates on the testing of DNA?

Posted by: Traci | Jul 23, 2015 8:58:32 AM

Traci: I think all the focus of Adnan's legal team is on the motion to reopen his PCR proceeding. I'm also hoping that in an episode in the new future we will be able to have an explanation of the status of the DNA petition.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 23, 2015 10:52:07 AM

"I think all the focus of Adnan's legal team is on the motion to reopen his PCR proceeding."

They already filed that motion, right? Isn't the court waiting for the State's response now? How would having someone test DNA divert their focus?

Posted by: monstimal | Jul 23, 2015 11:05:23 AM

monstimal: They're working on getting other things other than Asia's testimony admitted into evidence.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 23, 2015 11:06:50 AM

"They're working on getting other things other than Asia's testimony admitted into evidence."

That's an interesting topic I'm sure everyone would like to hear more about. I assume it would have to be evidence concerning Asia and her library alibi, right? They can't get other types of new evidence in for this hearing, correct? Did they find a March 3rd letter? Ha, kidding.

Posted by: monstimal | Jul 23, 2015 11:17:27 AM

monstimal: We actually will be having an episode on the appeal.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 23, 2015 11:23:35 AM

Can't make head nor tail of the notes, but the Event History comments at the bottom of the page in the Maryland Judicial Case search records indicate that something happened on Jan 8 and Jan 10 on cases 199103042-46, possibly calendaring a hearing (HCAL)?

Posted by: ccatx | Jul 23, 2015 11:31:01 AM

Interesting find, my guess is this: Given that Murphy had previously felt it necessary to apologize for her claim that there was a "pattern of Muslim men committing honor killings and fleeing" (or similar), that this would play to Adnan's favor.

If this were linked to the incorrect date of birth, she could probably have claimed that Murphy and the police had been acting in bad faith in the previous hearing and their new arguments should be treated with suspicion.

Thanks for continuing to respond to everyone.

Posted by: Leon H | Jul 23, 2015 12:10:29 PM

Remind me again why the state focused in on the specific timeframe that they did for Hae's murder?

Posted by: Traci | Jul 23, 2015 1:16:09 PM

Traci: I think they focused on that timeline because: Adnan was their only suspect from the get go. They got a "tower dump" of cell phone info from the Linken Park cell tower after they found the body. They found pings from Adnans phone at 7pm ish, therefore he must've buried the body at 7pm. They found an easily manipulated "witness" in Jay to fill in the blank spots and... voila. They have their timeline.

Of course, none of this matches the forensic evidence, so they just ignored that.

Posted by: Lilla | Jul 23, 2015 1:35:43 PM

If I'm understanding this correctly, there was a motion for a hearing to reconsider the bail question and it appears both a hearing date and a judge were set however there's no documentation that the hearing ever took place or was resolved in any other way.

Is this a normal occurrence? If not, could it be another indication of CG dropping the ball.

Posted by: Pdxkat | Jul 23, 2015 1:40:56 PM

None of it matched anything. A fine job done by investigators! Hae might've been killed an entirely different day. The fact that they didn't try to legitimately solve this murder blows my mind. It is their duty to protect and serve and in this case, there is still an unnamed killer. I would want my family, friends and citizens safe. Man, I hope they are held accountable. Judge, jury, prosecutors, investigators...the whole bunch of them.

Posted by: Traci | Jul 23, 2015 1:50:50 PM

Traci: I think as overworked detectives, the BPD Murder squad were always on the look out for easy cases to get their clearance rate up. When they got handed a file with a 17 year old and a 20 year old as the main suspects, their eyes lit up. Especially since one of them was a racial and ethnic minority.

They probably figured that once they brought Adnan in for interview, kept him isolated for a while, he'd crack, as apparently many murder suspects do. You can see this in their actions, denying his attorneys request to see him, Ritz's ex wife story, leaving him with Hae's picture. It's reminiscent of the scene in the Wire where McNulty and Bunk almost trick Deangelo into confessing. Bunk even inculcates details from his own life (his kids' ages) to appeal to Deangelo's emotion.

Posted by: Leon H | Jul 23, 2015 3:01:39 PM

Can and will the updated cell phone and tower information be admitted into evidence?

Posted by: Pen E. Lane | Jul 23, 2015 4:17:22 PM

Traci - I think the best we can hope for now is that it does get solved at some point... But I also hope that whoever did do it is not out on the street and didn't harm anyone else after this that could have been prevented!

Posted by: gc | Jul 23, 2015 5:36:01 PM

There has to be someone out there some where that knows the truth and could help resolve this case... For Hae, for Adnan, for Hae's family and for everyone else's safety... Please come forward!!!

Posted by: gc | Jul 23, 2015 5:38:42 PM

I took a look at the transcripts and saw that CG actually covered the territory raised in your blog post on 7/17/15 about the failure to search Hae's computer and AOL account as well as the possibility of diary entries on Hae’s computer. Were you aware of this from reading the transcripts?
From CG's cross of Det. MacGillivary on 2-18-2000 at pages 17-24: MacGillivary says Baltimore City did not search Hae’s computer and he was not aware of any search of Hae's computer if it had been conducted while in the custody of Baltimore County; he says that he didn't feel the search was important to the investigation (?); that he was aware that Det. Rowe of Baltimore County received the approval to obtain search warrants for the computer and AOL account but that as far as he's aware they never actually did anything. CG first tries to raise the issue of diary entries on the computer at page 17:
“Q: And there are entries in that diary that refer to her putting diary entries on the computer, were there not?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: You became aware that she had a computer, did you not?
A: We did.
Q: And you came to have custody of her computer or the information inside of it?
A: I did not.
Q: And you, of course, reviewed all of the entries inside the computer?
A: I did not.
Q: And did you call up someone else to do so?
A: I didn’t have the computer.
Q: But you knew that it existed.
A: I knew a computer existed. Correct.
Q: You never went to view it?
Page 18
A: No. Baltimore County had it.
. . .
Q: And were you made aware of what information was insider her computer?
A: No, I was not.
. . .
Page 19 . . .
A: Excuse me. I’m not finished. However, their office contacted us, indicating that we would need somebody from our office to contact them to make the request, and which we did, and they never actually, I believe, did anything with the computer.”

At pages 21-22; MacGillivary repeats that he doesn't know whether Hae made diary entries on the computer and doesn't recall whether Hae had referred to making diary entries in her computer in her handwritten diary.

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Jul 23, 2015 8:09:24 PM

I still can't understand why Adnan's defence has stalled since November last year on testing the DNA under Hae's fingernails. There is no reason why you wouldn't apply to have it tested. Hasn't Adnan waited long enough if he is innocent. Unless of course Jay was correct when he mentioned to police that adnan was worried about having been scratched by Hae.....

Posted by: Ben | Jul 24, 2015 5:18:00 AM

cctax: Yes, the Event History is so tough to decipher.

Leon H: Yes, I would really like to know what happened at the new hearing, assuming that it took place.

Pdxhat: It could easily just be lack of documentation. I’m looking into it.

Pen E. Lane: We will discuss this on Monday’s episode.

Gc: Hopefully.

Nine9fifty50: Thanks. I just did a new post on this..

Ben: Other claims are currently being developed that can and should be included in the DNA petition.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 24, 2015 7:19:41 AM

Leon, what is Ritz' ex-wife's story?

Posted by: Frank | Jul 24, 2015 3:47:19 PM

Someone at Baltimore County knows what happened with Hae's car. The two officers who had her plates ran...are they named? Have they been contacted if so?

Posted by: Traci | Jul 24, 2015 4:39:31 PM

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