EvidenceProf Blog

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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What Are the Odds That Jay Was at Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. on January 13th?

Yesterday, I posted about Jay's statement to Detectives Ritz and MacGillivary during his pre-interview that Jeff G. drove him to Woodlawn High School at 3:00 P.M. on January 13, 1999, whereupon he met Stephanie in the parking lot. Obviously, if true, this statement presents a counternarrative very different from anything else that Jay said during his recorded interviews or Adnan's trials. But was his statement true? Not necessarily the whole statement. Jay may or may not have been driven to Woodlawn by Jeff G., and he may or may not have seen Stephanie. But was he at Woodlawn at about 3:00 P.M. on January 13th? Is there a 10% chance? 30%? 50%? 75%? Would it change your thoughts if Adnan himself said that Jay arrived at the Woodlawn High School parking lot at 3:00 P.M. on January 13th? Well, it turns out that he (maybe) did.

A reader reminded me of this excerpt from a memo drafted by one of Cristina Gutierrez's clerks after meeting with Adnan in prison:

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 9.10.46 AM

So, what does this mean? I see several possibilities. In no particular order:

1. Adnan's only knowledge of Jay's 3:00 P.M. trip to Woodlawn comes from the pre-interview notes: In this scenario, Adnan is shown Jay's pre-interview notes and speculates that Jay could have run into Hae after arriving at the Woodlawn parking lot at 3:00 P.M. This would explain why Adnan is very specific about the time (3:00 P.M.) and location (parking lot): They're both in the pre-interview notes. That said, the pre-interview notes don't make it seem like Jay was returning Adnan's car, which is part of his statement to the clerk. Also, I'm not sure whether the defense had Jay's pre-interview notes at the time of his meeting with the clerk.

2. Jay told Adnan that he went to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M.: In this scenario, Adnan doesn't see Jay at 3:00 P.M. but is later told by Jay that he went to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. Jay might have volunteered this information, or Adnan might have asked him something like, "What did you do during the day?" when Jay picked him up from track practice. Given that Jay initially told the detectives that he went to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M., it wouldn't be surprising that Jay told the same thing to Adnan, whether it was true or not.

3. Adnan is mistaken or speculating: In this scenario, Adnan either (1) misspeaks/is remembering a different day when Jay came to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M.; or (2) speculates that Jay might have come to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. and run into Hae. Given the issues that Adnan and seemingly everyone in this case has with remembering which events occurred on January 13th, this wouldn't be too surprising.

4. The plan was for Jay to come to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M.: This has two permutations. Either (1) Jay and Adnan agreed that Jay would return to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. when Adnan loaned him his car; or (2) Adnan contacted Jay after Hae turned him down for a ride (maybe this was the 2:36 P.M. call, or maybe Adnan called a landline or the cell phone of someone who was hanging out with Jay). The interesting thing about this latter scenario is that Jay said in his pre-interview that Adnan called asking for a ride between 2:30 and 2:45 P.M. 

5. Adnan saw Jay at Woodlawn at about 3:00 P.M.: This could be an extension of the third possibility, or it could be an unannounced trip by Jay to Woodlawn. Depending upon when Hae left school (right after school according to Inez and Becky; about 3:00 P.M. according to Summer and/or Debbie), this could be helpful or hurtful to Adnan and Jay. If I'm right that Summer and Debbie had the wrong day and that Hae left school soon after it ended, this possibility would seem to help Adnan and could even explain how Adnan made The Nisha Call. 

6. Jay being at Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. was a cover story by Jay and Adnan: In this scenario, Jay and Adnan agree that they will tell everyone that Jay was at Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. to cover the reality that Jay was helping Adnan in the aftermath of the murder at this time. One issue with this theory/lie is that it requires the cooperation of Jeff G. and Stephanie, at least in the version told by Jay to the detectives. Also, if this was a cover story, why are there no notes in which Jay tells the detectives that this was the reason for his lie when he "came clean"?

Obviously, the likelihood of Jay being at Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. on January 13th varies depending on which of these possibilities you think is correct. At this point, I'm not sure which one I believe. I do, however, have some additional thoughts/questions on this matter:

1. Did Jay "come clean" based upon his Woodlawn/3:00 statement? A lot of people wonder why an innocent Jay would have implicated Adnan in Hae's murder. Imagine a scenario in which both Adnan and Jay are innocent. Jay is being pre-interviewed by detectives, who know about the Leakin Park pings, Jay and Adnan hanging out on January 13th, etc. Jay, being uninvolved, honestly tells the detectives that he arrived at the Woodlawn parking lot at 3:00 P.M. on January 13th. The detectives then tell Jay that he's just hung himself because they have a witness -- Debbie -- saying that she saw Hae at 3:00 P.M. as she was just about to go to the parking lot and drive directly to pick up her cousin. This is when, as Jay confirms, the detectives tell him that he's being prosecuted for Hae's murder unless he rats out Adnan. Jay, being "caught," "comes clean" and, with the help of the detectives, crafts a narrative in which Adnan killed Hae and he merely helped with the burial.

2. Does the pre-interview explain Jay's insistence on the 3:45ish Best Buy call? One of the huge mysteries in this case is why Jay continually maintains that he got the "come and get me" call from Adnan at around 3:45 P.M., despite the State's theory of the case at trial being that this call was the 2:36 P.M. call. Why wouldn't Jay go along with the State's timeline/why wouldn't the State force him to go along with this timeline? An obvious problem is that the 2:36 call was part of Jay's pre-interview timeline. Again, Jay said in his pre-interview that Adnan called between 2:30 and 2:45 P.M., asking for a ride. According to Jay, this was then followed by Jay heading to Woodlawn High School at 3:00 P.M. 

This creates an obvious problem for both Jay and the State, a problem that would become even more obvious (or might have already been obvious) based upon witnesses saying that Hae turned Adnan down a ride after school. If Jay testified that Adnan called him at 2:36 P.M., there's the obvious problem that his first version of this timeline involves Adnan asking for a ride and Jay subsequently arriving at Woodlawn. Instead, a new story is created in which Jay is at the Pusateri residence until 3:45ish, heads to see Jeff G., who isn't home, and then get the "come and get me" call from Adnan. By doing this, Jay can waive off his pre-interview statements when defense counsel is (doing a terrible job) cross-examining him at trial. The pre-interview becomes a false and entirely separate narrative from the one presented at trial (except for the fact that the State then does make the 2:36 P.M. call the "come and get me" call during closing).

3. Is Jay's pre-interview story close to the actual truth in this case? It might just be. I don't think anyone still believes that the 2:36 call was the Best Buy call, neither Jay nor the State has ever claimed that the 3:15 call is the Best Buy call, and there is no call at around 3:45 to Adnan's cell phone. According to Jay, there is a 2:36 call (or at least a call between 2:30 and 2:45 P.M.) from Adnan asking for a ride, which is consistent with Adnan being turned down by Hae for a ride after school. This could easily be a call made by Adnan from the library if Asia has the wrong day or Asia has the right day and is a little off on timing (she left the library about 5 minutes earlier than she thought).

Jay's trial story about what actually happened on the afternoon of January 13th doesn't match reality because he had to create a new narrative after his pre-interview. Adnan's story about what actually happened on the afternoon of January 13th doesn't match reality because he can't admit seeing Jay between school and track practice given Jay's claim about what they did between school and track practice.

Is this a crazy theory? Maybe, but keep this in mind: In his Intercept interview, Jay says that he dropped Adnan off for track practice before Adnan killed Hae, with Adnan ostensibly being late for practice. Is it possible that that Adnan and Jay did indeed hang out before track practice, which is when Adnan called Nisha? At this point, it seems as plausible as any other scenario. 



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So you wouldn't consider "Adnan is lying to try to invent motive and opportunity for Jay to kill Hae" to be a possibility?

Posted by: Seamus Duncan | Jul 2, 2015 8:28:41 AM

Seamus: It could be a lie, but I doubt it's a lie that Adnan created out of whole cloth. In other words, the information about Jay coming to Woodlawn at 3:00 P.M. had to come from somewhere, right?

Posted by: Colin | Jul 2, 2015 8:36:58 AM

I still believe Jay's story, but he is plugging Adnan's name into the story in place of the killer. So, as long as Adnan is ABSENT during the times that Jay says he is present, my theory works.

Posted by: fourhens | Jul 2, 2015 8:47:43 AM

Debbie apparently believed Hae was on campus until 3pm. Adnan may have taken the time from her.

Jay told 3-4 people he was involved in a homicide. If he was cheating on Stephanie I doubt Adnan was the only one who knew. What evidence did Davis find to corroborate Adnan's accusation?

Posted by: Seamus Duncan | Jul 2, 2015 9:07:22 AM

I believe that Jay was at Woodlawn just before 3pm. Hae sees him and confronts him about cheating on Stephanie and then he looses his temper and kills her.

Posted by: Jim M. | Jul 2, 2015 9:10:18 AM

Seamus: Yes, I'm actually pretty convinced that Adnan did think Hae was still at school at 3:00 P.M. based on Debbie's claims. But where did he come up with the idea that Jay was on campus at 3:00 P.M.? Those are the possibilities I listed in my post. I suppose a lie out of whole cloth could be added, but it seems like he had some basis to make the statement.

I'm not going to comment on evidence of the accusation at this point.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 2, 2015 9:11:51 AM

The 2:36 call was only 5 seconds long. I watched the episode of the Docket where Susan Simpson discussed this call with a cell phone expert, and he opined that it must have been a dropped call. There is simply not enough time for a call to have gone through in only 5 seconds. However, if Adnan knew that Jay was hanging out with Jenn and had her home phone number, then perhaps he tried to call the cell phone at 2:36, the call was dropped, and then he called her landline and reached Jay that way.
Personally, I think the most likely scenario is number 4 above. Perhaps the plan was always for Jay to drop Adnan's car back off at school so that Adnan could drive home after track practice. For Jay to do this, he would have needed another friend with a car to drive him home (or wherever he might have planned to go) after dropping off Adnan's car at 3:00 p.m. Enter Jeff G. This could also explain why Jay did not have Jenn follow him to the school in her car, since he was planning to see Stephanie and I don't think the two got along. If this were the plan all along, then Adnan would have finished track practice and discovered that his car had not been returned. He then calls Jay on the cell phone (at 4:27 or 4:58) to ask where the car was and whether Jay could now come get him from practice.

Incidentally, if Jay's Intercept interview is to be believed, then Adnan would have had to skip track practice altogether. Jay says he was hanging out with Adnan who said he was going to be late to track practice, so he dropped Adnan off at school and then left. Later, Adnan calls to say "come get me," and he meets Adnan in the Best Buy parking lot "between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.," after which they go to Cathy's house.

Posted by: Ann | Jul 2, 2015 9:37:51 AM

Ann: Good points. The 2:36 P.M. call was only 5 seconds, but Jay could have answered the phone pretty quickly, with Adnan saying, "Hae can't give me a ride. Meet me at Woodlawn." Or not. At this point, I'm trying to stay open to all possibilities, and one of the possibilities, which is mentioned in Jay's pre-interview, is a call from Adnan between 2:30 and 2:45. As you say, though, it might not have been a call to the cell phone.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 2, 2015 9:49:36 AM

What a mess of a case. It's criminal that any person would spend his entire life behind bars based on this evidence. I think there's still some possibility of Adnan being factually guilty, but I have trouble taking anyone seriously who thinks the evidence is sufficient to meet the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, or that CG was not ineffective.

Posted by: RR | Jul 2, 2015 10:41:41 AM

But even Adnan has verified that Jay had Adnan's car & cell phone that day, so why would Jeff G be driving Jay to Woodlawn if Jay had Adnan's car?

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Jul 2, 2015 10:48:59 AM

fourhens, the physical evidence doesn't square with Jay's story — it's not even close.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Jul 2, 2015 10:50:15 AM

Maybe I'm missing something here but why would Jay need a ride to Woodlawn from Jeff G. if he had Adnan's car?

Posted by: maggie | Jul 2, 2015 10:52:39 AM

Complete aside: Is it just me...or is there some kind of maximum number of comments which will display for each post, even when more are successfully submitted? I've just checked the last few posts, and they don't display more than 25 comments, even when the number of comments listed is higher than this - and even when the recent comment panel on the right is displaying a new comment as having been added by a user - once above 25, no more seem to display. Is there any way this can be changed?

Posted by: Cupcake | Jul 2, 2015 10:58:31 AM

There are two possibilities re: why Jay says he got a ride from Jeff G. to school even though he had Adnan's car:

(1) I think during the pre-interview, Jay did not admit that he had Adnan's car. So he said that he got a ride from Jeff G. when in actuality, he drove Adnan's car there himself.

(2) Jay went to Woodlawn to drop Adnan's car off at 3:00 p.m. He then needed a ride home, so Jeff G. followed him in his own car so he could give Jay a ride home.

Posted by: Ann | Jul 2, 2015 11:11:55 AM

RR: Yes, it is very much a mess of a case, which is what Jim Trainum said on Serial. Too many holes.

Cold & Maggie: Two possibilities: (1) Jay drove Adnan’s car to Woodlawn at 3:00 and lied about getting the ride from Jeff G. because he didn’t want to admit to having Adnan’s car. (2) Jay drove to Woodlawn in Adnan’s car while Jeff G. drove his own car. The plan was for Jay to drop off Adnan’s car and have Jeff G. drive him away from Woodlawn.

Cupcake: I see what you mean. It looks like the blog only displays the first 25 comments. I will see about correcting that.

Posted by: Colin | Jul 2, 2015 11:15:19 AM

Both Adnan and Jay agree that Jay borrowed Adnans car that morning/day. But that doesn't preclude Jay loaning out the car to someone else without Adnans knowledge.

This could account for Jay getting a ride to Woodlawn High School with JeffG. Maybe Jay planned on getting a ride with Stephanie back to wherever (Jenns house?) he needed to be to get Adnans car back.

Posted by: Pdxkat | Jul 2, 2015 11:15:54 AM

Does that note also mean that "Jay stepping out " theory also originated from Adnan.

BTW, I am inclined to think that both Jay and Adnan claiming that Jay was on campus at 3 pm probably means that they were there. Also, Adnan probably remembers (remembered) more of that day than he has been letting on.

Posted by: S | Jul 2, 2015 11:38:47 AM

Colin/Ann, I think it's pretty unlikely that Adnan knew Jen's home phone number, since they were not friends. Another thing that caught my attention about Adnan's comments: I wonder why Hae was so concerned about Jay cheating on Stephanie, when according to Stephanie they were not close. In fact, Stephanie has nothing nice to say about Hae at all in her police/investigator interviews.

Posted by: Marissa Winship | Jul 2, 2015 11:40:00 AM

Pdxkat: Right. Jay could have given the car to someone else to use.

S: It’s tough to say who originated the “Jay stepping out” theory. I can’t tell whether Adnan is following up on the lead that he gave to the defense or whether the defense initially told him what they had found on this theory, with Adnan simply trying to determine what else they might have found.

It’s tough to say whether Adnan knows more than what he says. As with almost everyone in this case, it seems like he’s confabulating events from certain days and possibly misremembering certain details. It’s understandable. Supposedly, he hung out with Debbie every day during lunch. We know that Debbie said she saw Adnan at 2:45 and Hae at 3:00. I think she had the wrong day, but it’s easy to imagine her recollection confusing Adnan.

Marissa: I wish we had more complete statements from Stephanie about Hae. I’m guessing their relationship was a bit more nuanced than these statements would suggest. Also, it’s quite possible that Hae felt differently about their relationship than Stephanie did.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 2, 2015 12:57:42 PM

Maybe it might be worth trying to find out wether Jeff told Anything About this case to any of his relatives

Posted by: Peter belgium | Jul 2, 2015 2:00:39 PM

Peter: It appears that he did not, which would seem consistent with (1) Jay lying (at least about Jeff G. taking him to school; or (2) Jay not being involved in Hae's death/burial or at least Jeff G. not realizing his involvement (e.g., dropping him off and leaving before anything happened).

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jul 2, 2015 2:03:14 PM

I must be missing something. Why would Jay need a ride to Woodlawn if he had Adnan's car?

Posted by: Megan Davis | Jul 2, 2015 2:54:17 PM

When listening to the Serial podcast I thought Jay did it or was in on it but with another perp not Adnan. I no longer think Jay did it or was in on it with another perp and had no knowledge of it.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Jul 2, 2015 4:30:17 PM

I think Jay's a pathological liar and the detectives determined that early on and figured they could coach him into bearing false witness against Adnan by threatening him in some way and I don't mean with complicity in murder charges. I'm talking early on before they officially brought him in for questioning. Jay then convinced Jenn to lie as well and go along with the investigators.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Jul 2, 2015 5:01:02 PM

And what that means is Jay told the cops the lie they wanted to hear with their significant coaching. It's a crazy thing for Jay to do, but Jay's crazy and Jenn, well, I can't explain why Jenn would go along with it. I think this case goes much deeper than anyone cares to imagine. It's the opposite of a slam dunk.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Jul 2, 2015 5:03:51 PM

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