EvidenceProf Blog

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Delving More Into Jeff G.'s Importance to the Adnan Syed Trial/Appeal

On Monday's Addendum Episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, we delved more into Jay's statement that Jeff G. drove him to Woodlawn High School on January 13, 1999, where he saw his girlfriend Stephanie. Specifically, we talked about the notes that Detective Ritz took during Jay's pre-interview, including this notation:

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.15.36 AM

In this post, I will delve more into the Jeff G. conundrum.

What happened to Jeff G. at trial?

Jeff G. was referenced at trial, twice. First, he was an important, but different, part of Jay's narrative of the events on January 13th. This is from the February 4, 2000 trial transcript (page 129):

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.17.53 AM

So, according to Jay, (1) he was at the Pusateri residence until "like 3:45;" (2) he then left to go over to Jeff G.'s house; (3) he arrived at Jeff G.'s house, but Jeff G. wasn't home; and (4) as he was leaving Jeff G.'s street, he got the "come and get me" call from Adnan at Best Buy.

Second, defense counsel asked Jay about his pre-interview statement(s) about Jeff G. This is from the February 14, 2000 trial transcript (pages 62-63):

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.17.45 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.18.43 AM

So, according to Jay...I don't know? Jay alternately seems to be saying that he told the detectives that Jeff G. did or did not give Adnan a ride to "the High's store." The only thing that seems clear is that Jay brought up Jeff G.'s name during the pre-interview.

What should defense counsel have done with Jeff G. at trial?

First, let's start with Jay's claim at trial that he got the "come and get me" call after stopping by Jeff G.'s house at 3:45ish. One thing that defense counsel could and should have done was to show Jay the call log from Adnan's cell phone and ask him to identify the call in question. In response, Jay ostensibly would have done one of four things:

1. Testify that he couldn't identify a qualifying call. This would make a good deal of sense, given that there are no incoming calls between 3:15 and 4:27 P.M. Because the State's whole theory of the case was that Adnan gave Jay his cell phone so that he could call him after the murder, this would have been pretty devastating for the State.

2. Testify that the call was the 3:15 P.M. call. Jay, however, persistently claimed that he was at Jenn's house until 3:45 or at least 3:40. Such an about face thus seems unlikely, and it also means that Jay would have been contradicting his testimony on direct examination and his prior police statements. It also means that the State couldn't have claimed that the 2:36 call was the "come and get me" call during closing.

3. Testify that the call was the 4:27 call. First, this would have made the Nisha call (at 3:32 P.M.) completely irrelevant. Second, even if track practice started at 4:00 P.M., it's hard to see how this timing would work, given Jay's consistent claim that he dropped Adnan off at track practice. Third, Jay would have to explain what he was doing between 3:45 and 4:27 P.M. besides going to Jeff G.'s house, assuming that Jeff G.'s house was somewhat close to Jenn's house. Fourth, the State couldn't have claimed that the 2:36 call was the "come and get me" call during closing. There are really too many problems with this scenario to list them all.

4. Testify that the call was the 2:36 call. Again, this would have been a huge contradiction by Jay (the call being more than an hour earlier), and it seems so implausible that it doesn't really require further discussion.

Simply put, failing to ask Jay to identify the "come and get me" call on the call log was a huge error by defense counsel, and such a question easily could have dismantled the State's case.

Second, let's turn to the cross-examination of Jay regarding his pre-interview statement(s). This was another huge error. Looking at the cross-examination, I'm assuming that defense counsel did two things: (1) only looked at Detective MacGillivary's notes, which are more ambiguous; and (2) got confused between Jay's statement about "High's store" and Jay's clear statement that Jeff G. gave him (Jay) a ride to Woodlawn High School at about 3:00 P.M., where he met Stephanie in the back parking lot.

The actual cross-examination of Jay makes it look like Jay was initially covering for Adnan before coming clean. In other words, defense counsel's questions make it seem like Jay claimed that Adnan got a ride from Jay G. to "High's store" before 'coming clean' and admitting that Adnan got a ride from Hae and killed her.

Detective Ritz's notes, however, make clear that Jay was talking about himself (Jay), not Adnan, and that he was talking about a ride to the high school, not "High's store." Defense counsel needed to ask Jay about Ritz's notation that he got a ride from Jeff G. to Woodlawn High School at 3:00 P.M. At this point, Jay could have done one of three things:

1. Admit that Jeff G. did give him a ride to the high school at about 3:00 P.M. I probably don't need to explain why this would have destroyed the State's case.

2. Admit that he made this statement but claim that it was a lie. This would have led to defense counsel asking why Jay lied, and the jury might have believed Jay's explanation or not. As I said on the podcast, this seems like an odd lie for Jay to tell because it increases his exposure and brings two other people -- Jeff G. and Stephanie -- under scrutiny.

3. Deny making the statement and claim that the detectives made a mistake. Given Jay's actual responses during cross-examination, I think that this is the likeliest outcome. So, what would have been the result of this answer? Your mileage may vary. I think that Jay claiming two detectives mistakenly wrote that he got a ride to Woodlawn on the afternoon of January 13th is something that would have given many jurors pause.

Did the police interview Jeff G.?

We know that Jeff G. was on the State's interview list:

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.50.25 AM

As you can see, he's right after Mark Pusateri (who wasn't "officially" interviewed) and right before Don (who was interviewed several times). Most of the people on the interview list were interviewed, but others were not (officially, anyway).

Why would it have made sense to interview Jeff G.? The defense could have interviewed him, and he could have destroyed the State's case. First, imagine that Jeff G. says that he did give Jay (or Adnan) a ride to the high school or "High's store" sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 P.M. on January 13th. Under either of these scenarios, the State's case is dead. Second, imagine that Jeff G. says that he was home on the afternoon of January 13th. This means that Jay is likely lying about the "come and get me" call, which he says occurred after determining that Jeff G. wasn't home.  

So, was Jeff G. interviewed by the State, despite there being no notes from such an interview? I don't know. All I do know is that the defense never interviewed him, and he is now deceased.

Did the State make the 2:36 call the "come and get me" call based on Jeff G.?

In its most recent brief, the State claimed that it just as easily could have made the 3:15 P.M. the Best Buy call because Debbie testified that she saw Hae at school at 3:00 P.M. In a prior post, I made several arguments for why the 3:15 call couldn't work for the Best Buy call. We can now add Jeff G. to the list. 

Imagine you're the prosecutor. Do you make the Best Buy call the 2:36 call or the 3:15 call in your opening statement? Do you develop Inez's testimony (Hae left school between 2:15 and 2:20) or Debbie's testimony (Hae was about to leave school at 3:00)?

Well, if you know that Jay said in his pre-interview that Jeff G. drove him to the school parking lot at 3:00 P.M., you have to go with the 2:36 call. Otherwise, any defense counsel worth her salt would emphasize this statement and claim that Jay himself initially said that he was taken to the Woodlawn parking lot just before Hae was about to enter that same parking lot. Of course, defense counsel flubbed her cross-examination, but the prosecution had no way of knowing what would happen when it initially laid out its 2:36 theory during opening and later developed it through the testimony by Inez (who testified right before Jay).

I think there's a good chance the State moved to the 2:36 timeline based upon Jeff G., and there's no way it could have gone with the 3:15 timeline based on Jay's pre-interview statement(s).



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Professor -

It sure seems like Balti PD was in Urick's back pocket. What leads us to believe, with this poor excuse for defense counsel, that CG was not in his back pocket as well? Or, did Urick do the -- fist pump/YES! -- dance when he found out Adnan's counsel would be CG?

Posted by: fourhens | Jul 1, 2015 8:14:25 AM

I would think that the defense and the investigators would be very interested in asking Jay why he was getting a ride from Jeff G. at all, since I thought Jay had Adnan's car for most of the day. Where was Adnan's car when Jay was getting a ride to the high school (or High's)?

Incidentally, there are 4 High's locations around the Woodlawn High / Leakin Park area, all about 4 miles from the high school. I haven't tried to correlate their locations with the cell tower data so far.


Posted by: Silverlock | Jul 1, 2015 8:29:19 AM

fourhens: Gutierrez was known as a fierce advocate up until the time when she started representing Adnan. I don't know whether her decline had been noted prior to his trial.

Silverlock: Yes, I listed just a few of the questions that could have been asked about/to Jeff G. I feel like he's a huge part of this case.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 1, 2015 8:34:40 AM

I'm not sure it plays in, but these people are fairly young. Do you know the cause of Jeff G's demise?

Posted by: fourhens | Jul 1, 2015 8:44:26 AM

Will you be posting the complete handwritten notes of Ritz on Undisclosed site as you did the notes of McGillivary? If not, why? Thanks.

Posted by: ScoutFinch2 | Jul 1, 2015 9:07:24 AM

fourhens: I don't now.

Scout: They've now been posted:


I'm not sure whether the ordering of pages is correct. That's the order that they were in.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 1, 2015 9:09:29 AM

This was all so outrageously botched, I cannot believe Adnan was found guilty. There is not a single shred of evidence to prove he is guilty. Have other jury members spoken out about the verdict?

Posted by: Traci | Jul 1, 2015 9:15:57 AM

Thank you!

Posted by: ScoutFinch2 | Jul 1, 2015 9:18:33 AM

This case has so many strange omissions of seemingly important police interviews, I’m starting to wonder if the Baltimore PD at the time maintained a “dual filing” system such as courts have condemned in other jurisdictions, where officers provide the prosecutor with a formal file consisting only of evidence implicating the defendant, and withhold the more comprehensive “street file.” See Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985, 995 (7th Cir. 1988) (discussing the practice); Palmer v. City of Chicago, 755 F.2d 560, 565 (7th Cir. 1985). All in all, a neat way of evading Brady v. Maryland. What the prosecutor doesn’t know can’t hurt him (but can definitely send the defendant to prison for a very long time).

Posted by: Josh | Jul 1, 2015 9:23:51 AM

Alternatively, if CG had asked Jay to look at the call log and identify which call was the "come and get me call," he might had said, oh, you know what, I must have my times off a little bit. It must have been the (236 or 315) call. Most jurors understand issues with recall of specific times. So, CG ran the serious risk of solidifying the State's case. On redirect, Urick/Murphy would have hammered that home. By leaving it alone, CG could instead argue in closing that Jay was at Jenn's house/stopping by Jeff G's house after he supposedly got the come and get me call.

This is why IAC claims usually fail. For every strategic reason to ask a question, there are reasons not to ask it.

Posted by: Jane | Jul 1, 2015 9:36:54 AM

Jane: I agree that there was some risk in asking the question, but I think that it was outweighed by any reward. Let's say that Jay says it was the 3:15 call on cross-examination. This means that Jay has changed his story from interview 1, interview 2, trial 1, and direct-examination at trial 2. Moreover, we know that Jay was shown the call log as early as the second interview.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 1, 2015 9:45:57 AM

Was Jeff G interviewed by Christina about the so-called ride?

I am not sure about "the state's case would have been destroyed by ..." It seems to me that there were several contradictions in the timeline already presented. I have a serious doubt that jury considered the timeline at all in their deliberations.

Posted by: S | Jul 1, 2015 12:16:19 PM

S: Jeff G. was not interviewed by the defense. I also feel like the Jeff G. information goes a bit beyond timeline inconsistencies. The very first thing that Jay says about the afternoon of January 13th is that Jeff. G. gave him a ride to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. I feel like that would have been guge for the jury to hear, but Gutierrez flubbed her cross-examination.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 1, 2015 12:24:43 PM

Jeff G’s importance is that it’s yet another contradiction to add to the pile of contradictions that have buried the State’s case and suffocated it. There are so many, some a bit more pertinent and egregious than others, contradictions it’s difficult to keep track. We should have a running list somewhere. The State cannot move mountains and it has a mountain, Everest I’d say, of contradictions weighing down on it in this phony case. Speaking of shovels, maybe Jay can lend Urick, Ritz and Macgillivary the shovel he allegedly ditched so magnanimously for Adnan so they can dig their way out from under the mountain, but nah, they’ll need something much greater than that — like their Maker — if they have one. If not, well, they’re SOL. Hell, I think they’re SOL their Maker or not.

Other than that, it’s not enough to hang the hat on the Jeff G contradiction alone — it’s just one more weighty contradiction on the growing pile. Plus, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, he’s dead and all we’re left with is a mention of him in unreliable interview notes.

For those interested, I have a new blog post up about Roy Sharonnie Davis III and the possibility of Hae stopping at the ATM across the street from his residence on January 13th — the day of the murder. Here’s the link.


Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Jul 1, 2015 12:28:22 PM

It looks to me like Jay did not admit during the pre-interview that he had Adnan's car. The first and last pages of Ritz's notes look like they were taken during the taping, while only the middle page matches MacGillivary's notes from the pre-interview. If that's the case, maybe Jay, who hadn't yet been confronted with the cell phone records and all of the calls to Jenn, etc., didn't want to admit that he had Adnan's car and cell phone. Why he offers up the fact that he went to Woodlawn around 3 p.m. is anybody's guess, but once he did, he had to then explain how he got there - so he brings up Jeff G. (Odd how he is supposedly at Jenn's house with her at this time yet doesn't ask her for a ride to the school).

Posted by: Ann | Jul 1, 2015 12:39:03 PM

Ann: Good points.

Posted by: streetwriter | Jul 1, 2015 2:30:07 PM

Unrelated, but thinking about it -- a reporter's question: How has this case changed your life?

Posted by: streetwriter | Jul 1, 2015 3:05:19 PM

Regarding the recently released documents. Previously, you said:

"March 3rd (morning): Adnan meets with his initial attorneys and Davis. Davis is then tasked with contacting people who can write character letters in support of Adnan for bail appeal. 600+ letters are secured."


"Cupcake: Yes, the focus of Adnan’s initial attorneys and even Gutierrez until June/July was primarily on bail issues/character witnesses."


"Seamus: When appropriate, Davis asked potential character witnesses he contacted about the events of 1/13. But everyone he talked to was a potential character witness. This is why he asked Sye about his relationship with Adnan. Of course, while there, he was going to ask about 1/13."

But now you've released an interview from March 10 in which Davis asks Stephanie about Adnan, Hae, the dance incident, January 13, the aftermath of Hae's disappearance, etc. Furthermore, Davis is attempting to contact Jay, who obviously couldn't be a character witness.

It seems Davis was interested in far more than character witnesses. In light of this document, can you please justify your assertion that "the focus of Adnan’s initial attorneys and even Gutierrez until June/July was primarily on bail issues/character witnesses."

Posted by: Seamus Duncan | Jul 1, 2015 3:24:29 PM

streetwriter: I'm not sure yet.

Seamus: The notes from Stephanie's police interview make clear that Davis "wanted us to write letters to support Adnan." As I said before, when witnesses had useful information about 1/13, Davis delved into these subjects as well. It's thus not surprising that Davis also asked Stephanie about Jay and the events of 1/13.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 1, 2015 3:34:52 PM

C'mon, that's a dodge. Obviously it has changed your life, with the near-daily blog postings and involvement with Undisclosed. What would or do you tell your law students about what the case has taught you, and what you have learned about being at the centre of a case that has attracted global interest?

Posted by: streetwriter | Jul 1, 2015 3:52:53 PM

Colin - good eye connecting Jay's first statement about getting a ride to Woodlawn at 3:00pm with the fact that Hae would have been leaving at that time. Interesting...

Posted by: tdevine | Jul 1, 2015 4:42:45 PM

Stephanie seems to confirm to Davis that Jay was asking her to stay away from Adnan after Hae's disappearance. It would seem to me that we can throw out the possibility that the cops decided that Adnan is guilty and coached Jay to convict him. More likely, if Adnan is innocent, is that Jay was involved in the murder and along with his accomplices (again if he was not acting alone) decided to put the blame on Adnan early on.

Posted by: S | Jul 1, 2015 5:34:11 PM

But he wanted to interview Jay. Jay obviously wouldn't be a character witness. If he was only interested in letters for the bail hearing, why was he trying to contact Jay?

Posted by: Seamus Duncan | Jul 1, 2015 6:52:57 PM

Can you clarify if Hae's uncashed paycheck mentioned in the recent episode is the same one mentioned in the Enehey missing person report?

Posted by: Jane | Jul 1, 2015 7:51:43 PM

Streetwriter: I’m just saying that I need a little distance from the whole thing before having a perspective on it.

tdevine: More on that today.

S: I’m a bit confused about the timing of Jay’s statement. It’s my impression that he didn’t say that until after Adnan was arrested.

Seamus: He went to Stephanie to get a character letter. Of course, she was also the girlfriend of the person whom implicated Adnan, according to his arresting officer. It makes complete sense that Davis would ask Stephanie for Jay’s whereabouts . As far as I can tell, Davis didn’t try to contact Jay until later.

Jane: I’m guessing that it’s referring to Hae’s 1/18 check, not the 1/4 check that was not deposited but (presumably) picked up.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 2, 2015 3:21:37 AM

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