EvidenceProf Blog

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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Krista Comments on Adnan Assigning Speed Dial Numbers on His Cell Phone

Recently, the February 24, 2000 trial transcript from Adnan Syed's second murder trial was posted. One of the witnesses who testified on the 24th was Adnan's best friend Saad. Saad had a cell phone that was very similar to Adnan's Nokia 6160. With the phone, a caller could make a call to someone who was assigned a speed dial number by simply pushing down that number (e.g., "2") for a few seconds. In Episode 6 of Serial, Adnan said that he had assigned Nisha a speed dial number, meaning that "The Nisha Call" could have been an accidental dial. 

When questioning Saad, however, Cristina Gutierrez didn't ask Saad about speed dialing; instead, she asked him about making calls using the more complicated scroll feature (page 144:

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 8.48.39 PM

This has led readers to ask me a question that often gets asked in this case: Did Gutierrez drop the ball?

In other words, did Gutierrez fail to ask about accidental speed dialing because Adnan didn't assign people speed dial numbers, or did Gutierrez fail to ask this question because of a failure in trial preparation? 

Thankfully, we have Krista (Adnan and Hae's good friend) to answer this question. According to Krista, on January 12, 1999, Adnan got his cell phone

sometime between 6 & 7:30 and he did definitely have speed dials set. He made a big deal that I was one of the first people he called since he didn't have to wait and hide phone calls at home anymore.

Krista is likely referring to the 7:48 P.M. call that Adnan made to her on January 12th. And, indeed, Adnan was accurate: Krista was the second person he called after getting his cell phone. The first person was Nisha, whom Adnan called at 7:33 P.M. Given that Nisha was the first person Adnan called on his cell phone, and given that he called her three times on January 12th, it's safe to assume that Adnan assigned Nisha a speed dial number.



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I wonder if the phone is still in evidence and could be tested. It would seem odd to me if a teenager with their first phone didn't load every number he had and assign speed to his close friends.

Posted by: Greg | Aug 15, 2015 6:12:02 PM

But isn't it true that the updated timeline makes it impossible Adnan made The Nisha Call?

Updated timeline means it was butt dial by Jay or deliberate call by Jay. Right?

Posted by: Campo | Aug 15, 2015 6:58:39 PM

How would the Nisha call be anything besides a pocket dial at this point? An oddly timed call that Nisha doesn't recall made when Jay had the cell phone? Ridiculous, and I do wish CG would have pursued this as a possibility back in 1999. As we've seen, she had way too much going on to focus in on important details like this.

Posted by: You've been Ritzed | Aug 15, 2015 10:35:58 PM

Of course, the natural follow up question for Krista is how does/would she know that Adnan programmed her as a one-touch/pre-set in the phone as opposed to being added by Adnan as a contact in his directory. She doesn't say how she knows he definitely had speed dials (in the sense of programmed pre-sets). Can she definitely say one way or the other? Since the calls from the directory feature is what was raised at trial, isn't this likely what Adnan told CG how he used the phone? Does/did Adnan say that Krista and/or Nisha were programmed as one-touch/speed dials?

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Aug 17, 2015 12:31:07 AM

Greg: I doubt the phone is still functioning, but you never know.

Campo: Yes, if we think Adnan was at track at 3:30 P.M., he wasn’t making The Nisha Call.

You’ve been Ritzed: It’s certainly not the call that Jay and Nisha describe, and Adnan calling Nisha on a school day at 3:32 P.M. would certainly be odd. I don’t think we can rule it out entirely, but it’s not the likeliest scenario.

Nine9fifty50: That’s exactly what Krista said: When Adnan called her on January 12th, he told her that he had entered people’s numbers as speed dials.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 6:03:42 AM

I had that phone. I entered everyone in speed dail and constantly dialing others just by putting it face down. I remember how obnoxious it was and constantly having to say, sorry, hit the button by mistake. Butt dials happen today on my Iphone....

Posted by: navymom | Aug 17, 2015 7:05:28 AM

When did Krista say this to you? Are you taking this from her comments earlier this year? Is there more to the quote where she clarifies this?

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Aug 17, 2015 7:12:27 AM

navymom: Thanks for the insight.

Nine9fifty50: The above is a statement that Krista made a few days ago. In it, she clearly states that Adnan "did definitely have speed dials set" when she talked to him on January 12th.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 7:20:11 AM

Okay - I ask because Krista in her quote does not say that Adnan told her this yet your response was "That’s exactly what Krista said: When Adnan called her on January 12th, he told her that he had entered people’s numbers as speed dials." Perhaps this it could be clarified with Krista how she knew Adnan used pre-sets as opposed to calling from contacts in the directory as presented at trial? For example, did Adnan say she or other friends were programmed as #2, #3, etc. or did she see him using his phone that way?

The drawback with speed dials is that there are a limited number that can be programmed (7?) and one must remember who was programmed to which number. It was easier to add a contact and scroll by name.

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Aug 17, 2015 7:36:44 AM

Nine9fifty50: Krista's comment was in response to a question about whether Adnan had put people on speed dial as of January 13th. Krista's response was that Adnan had put people on speed dial as of January 13th because he told her that he had put people on speed dial when he talked to her on the 12th.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 7:59:51 AM

Why is the quote from Krista cropped? What is the context?

Posted by: Seamus Duncan | Aug 17, 2015 9:45:03 AM

Someone asked when Adnan got his cell phone on January 12th and whether Gutierrez's questions to Saad about using the scroll feature implied that Adnan hadn't entered numbers into speed dial. Krista responded:

"If I may interject he got it sometime between 6 & 7:30 and he did definitely have speed dials set. He made a big deal that I was one of the first people he called since he didn't have to wait and hide phone calls at home anymore."

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 9:50:18 AM

Krista said "...he didn't have to wait and hide phone calls at home anymore" showing yet again that Adnan's parents forbade contact with girls. I dont remember y'all covering this dynamic an any episode of Undisclosed (granted, I may have missed it, I stopped listening when the Adnan's Day episode was released that only covered parts of Adnans day, skipping the entire time he was off campus for instance). Did y;all decide it was completely irrelevant to this case?

Posted by: ghostoftomlandry | Aug 17, 2015 9:51:54 AM

ghostoftomlandry: We actually went through Adnan's entire day in our group conversation for Episode One, but, due to an error, it didn't record. We ended up each recording clips that we spliced together. I wish that episode had turned out better and more comprehensive.

As for Adnan and contact with girls, this was covered pretty well on Serial. What's there to add?

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 9:59:15 AM

I had the same phone, and I don't have anyone on speed dial, yet somehow I would still constantly scroll through my lists of contacts and accidentally dial all kinds of people. Likewise, in the early 90's and beyond, I was always getting calls from people who obviously had accidentally dialled my number and all you could hear was the sound of the phone rustling around in someones pocket or purse.

This should never even be an issue, anyone with an early mobile phone knows how common this is. You can hit all kinds of combinations of buttons accidentally.

Posted by: shameless_drunken | Aug 17, 2015 10:09:25 AM

What speed dial number did Adnan assign Hae to?

Posted by: monstimal | Aug 17, 2015 10:16:32 AM

monstimal: As with many questions in the case, there is no answer based upon the lack of investigation into the matter by Gutierrez.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 10:20:09 AM

You could ask Adnan now.

Posted by: monstimal | Aug 17, 2015 10:48:38 AM

Thanks - I see Adnan speaks about having Nisha on speed dial and puts forward the theory of the accidental call during the Serial podcast (ep 6, I believe). If it was actually common for Adnan to use speed dials AND he actually had Nisha on speed dial, did he explain this to CG at the time of trial? If not, is it because he didn't see the significance of this at the time of trial?

Posted by: Nine9fifty50 | Aug 17, 2015 12:10:57 PM

monstimal: I'm not sure I see the significance of Hae's position on the speed dial, assuming that she was given a speed dial number that Adnan can recall fifteen years later.

Nine9fifty50: This is another one of those unanswerable questions. I'm sure that Adnan would say that he told this to Gutierrez, but we'll never for sure whether this is true and/or whether Gutierrez did anything with this information.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 17, 2015 1:32:36 PM

Greg & CM: Unless damaged, the phone should still work well enough to determine presets etc. I had a 1998 phone similar to Adnan's that we kept charged for the kids to play with when they were preschoolers, so until at least 2012. Obviously we didn't have service for it, but they could press numbers, make it ring, and scroll through menus. It still had all the phone numbers etc stored in it. If I hadn't finally given it away I'd charge it up now to demonstrate. I just gave a 2004 flip phone to a 9-year-old friend who found it and had a grand time playing with it, asking me about everyone in the call history.

Posted by: Dougalougaldog | Aug 17, 2015 7:41:50 PM

What class you display, Prof Miller, in dealing with these reddit trolls who badmouth you on the sub. Kudos to your grace and your hard work on this case.

Posted by: You've been Ritzed | Aug 17, 2015 9:05:18 PM

I have always wondered what Nisha's normal day would have been. Would she have typically been home mid afternoon to receive calla?

Posted by: brgulker | Aug 19, 2015 2:59:58 PM

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