EvidenceProf Blog

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Long Way Home: Would Jay Angling for the CrimeStoppers Reward be Enough for a New Trial?

On Monday's episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, we noted how a CrimeStoppers reward of $3,075 was collected on November 1, 1999 in connection with the Hae Min Lee case. We also speculated that this reward could have been claimed by Jay based in part on some interesting documents relating to a motorcycle being sold by Jay's former soccer coach. Let's assume, however, for the sake of argument that Jay didn't actually receive the CrimeStoppers reward. Even in that scenario, there's a good argument that Adnan is entitled to a new trial.

We laid out the circumstantial evidence on the podcast. During Jay's ride-along with detectives on March 18, 1999, Detective MacGillivary took a notation about Jay's former soccer coach selling his motorcycle:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 6.15.56 AM

The final notations in those same ride-along notes are as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 6.17.37 AM

You might interpret these notations in any number of ways, but one fair interpretation is that Jay was informing the detectives that he expected some reward for his help, i.e., he wanted the reward money.

This interpretation could be corroborated by the circumstances surrounding the visit by Detective MacGillivary and ASA Vickie Wash to Woodlawn High School five and six days later. On those days, they interviewed 18 or 19 faculty and staff, all of whom knew Adnan and Hae or had information pertinent to the case. And indeed, the MPIA files contain 18 sets of interview notes.

They also interviewed Coach Brown, who neither had pertinent information about the case nor knew Adnan or Hae. Indeed, on the interview itinerary, the stated purpose of the interview was Coach Brown's motorcycle. There are no notes from Brown's interview in the MPIA files, but there are Kelley Blue Book printouts; with depreciation from 9,000 miles driven, Brown's motorcycle was worth about $3,000.

Again, you might interpret these documents in any number of ways, but one fair interpretation is that MacGillivary and/or Wash were following up on Jay's statements about the reward/motorcycle during the ride-along and that someone working for the State thereafter shredded the notes from Brown's interview.*

In the podcast, we speculated that Jay might have gotten the CrimeStoppers reward money, which would entitle Adnan to a new trial based upon the opinion of the Supreme Court in Kyles v. Whitley. Looking back at Whitley, however, I realize that if my conjecture above is correct, it might not matter whether Jay actually got the reward money.

Whitley, you might recall, involved a man who went by Beanie, telling police that he had purchased Dolores Dye's car from Curtis Kyles and that Kyles had murdered Dolores Dye. While talking to police,

Beanie made it clear that he expected some reward for his help, saying at one point that he was not "doing all of this for nothing."...The police repeatedly assured Beanie that he would not lose the $400 he paid for the car.

In ultimately reversing Kyles's conviction based upon non-disclosure of this information, the majority in Whitley concluded that

notwithstanding Justice Scalia's suggestion that Beanie would have been “stupid” to inject himself into the investigation,...the Brady evidence would have revealed at least two motives for Beanie to come forward: he was interested in reward money and he was worried that he was already a suspect in Dye's murder (indeed, he had been seen driving the victim's car, which had been the subject of newspaper and television reports).

Now, of course, Beanie got the reward money -- $1,000 from CrimeStoppers -- and $600 based upon Dye's car being impounded. But the point of the Whitley opinion seems to be more focused on Beanie angling for the money when talking to the cops.

Therefore, I think there's a decent argument for a Brady violation even if Jay didn't get the CrimeStoppers reward. If Jay angled for the reward money during the ride-along, and a State official shredded the interview notes with Coach Brown to cover up that there was an actual or aborted attempt to talk to him about the motorcycle that Jay wanted, that could certainly satisfy the Brady standard. This would especially seem to be the case given that Jay's story about the events of January 13th was very much evolving, or, actually devolving, during the ride-along. But more on that later.


*The other interpretation was that the notes from his interview were the only set of notes lost from 19 or 20 faculty and staff interviews.



| Permalink


Looks like two different people's writing.

Posted by: Traci | Aug 26, 2015 8:15:29 AM

I agree with Traci. I also wonder if the note about the private investigator had to do with Stephanie instead. Remember he had gone to her house about a week before the ride-along, and Jay and Phil had come to try to interrupt. The very next day, she changed her story slightly to the P.I., telling him that she remembered calling Adnan on January 13 and that Jay was with him. Perhaps Jay was telling the cops about the P.I. having spoken with Stephanie, and her change in story was how the P.I. was "going to discredit"??

I also noticed on the side of that paper, it looks like it says "Bilal," which is the name of the mosque advisor that testified at Adnan's grand jury hearing. Colin, any thoughts on that?

Posted by: Ann | Aug 26, 2015 10:37:54 AM

Please can you clarify some things that have been confusing me…
1. Would the identity of the tipster only be made known to the police at time of reward collection, and not before (so in this case, the police wouldn’t have known until after Adnan was indicted - unless the tipster themselves told the police)?
2. Would the identity of the officer that delivered the reward be recorded and thus made known in the upcoming disclosure? (If it was one of the main players that would be really interesting).
3. Is there an expectation that the presence of a CrimeStoppers tip is revealed as part of discovery (if not the identity of the tipster/content of the tip – if non-material/non-exculpatory) …otherwise, how would the defence know to investigate possible Brady violations?
4. Is it good practice for lawyers to ask about the presence of tips during discovery/during trial, just in case?

Posted by: Cupcake | Aug 26, 2015 10:55:02 AM

have y'all released the notes in full somewhere? Also, that looks like two different people's handwriting. Would someone have to admit to "shredding notes" as you suggest was done? How would that be proven?

Finally, isnt it just as likely that they were concerned that Jay received money from Adnan for helping with the murder and wanted to talk to coach brown about wether or not he had been approached by Jay? Did Coach Brown sell the motorcycle? Did Jay buy it?

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Aug 26, 2015 10:55:44 AM

Up top you say 18 or 19 interviews. Down in the footnote you say 19 or 20. Considering there is 1 interview record you are claiming was shredded, that seems like an important distinction. How many interviews were there actually?

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Aug 26, 2015 10:56:59 AM

1. Even if the identity of the first CrimeStoppers informant or the content of the tip can't be found, wouldn't the cover-up of the existence of the call itself be a Brady violation (or whatever)? You made it clear in the podcast that all three cops who testified never mentioned the first call, so wouldn't that invalidate their testimony? Especially in terms of the defense strategy of claiming tunnel vision.

2. In the podcast you implied that the payout delay corresponding to Jay's plea deal was a further indication that he could have been the first-call tipster. Could you possibly clarify that? Would the police have been withholding the reward money to encourage him to take the plea deal?

Posted by: Liam | Aug 26, 2015 11:09:31 AM

Sorry one more: Were missing/reward posters in existence as of 1st Feb (we've only seen evidence of posters post-Hae's body being found, which is a while after the CrimeStoppers tip)? Or was the tipster calling CrimeStoppers on the off-chance of a reward/just to report information? Are all calls from a tipster to CrimeStoppers logged?

Posted by: Cupcake | Aug 26, 2015 11:11:42 AM

Traci and Ann: Agreed. It does look like possibly different handwriting. I don’t know what to make of it. The Stephanie theory is a good one.

Cupcake: (1) I’m not 100% sure. If it’s Jay, it seems clear he relayed this info during the ride-along. (2) It would be recorded by the officer. No idea if that has been preserved. (3) Not all CrimeStoppers tips have to be disclosed. It depends on identity and content. (4) Yes, defense counsel should ask for the information.

Theghostoftomlandery: We’ll be going more in-depth into the ride-along notes on the Addendum. After that, they’ll be posted. Someone wouldn’t have to admit to shredding the documents, but the failure to provide an explanation for the lack of notes would be pretty damning. As far as your alternate scenario, I don’t know how that explains the word “REWARD” at the end of the ride-along notes. Brown did sell the motorcycle, and it does not seem like Jay ended up buying it.

As for the interviews, there were interviews with 18 or 19 faculty and staff who knew Adanan/Hae and/or had information about the case. In addition, Coach Brown was interviewed, meaning 19-20 total interviews. We have 18 sets of notes. There are no notes for Brown’s interview and no notes from another teacher who was marked as absent on the itinerary.

Liam: (1) It depends on identity and content. (2) Any regular tipster should have been able to recover their reward right after Adnan was indicted in April.

Cupcake: I don’t know when the posters were created, but the reward was being promoted before 2/1.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 26, 2015 11:20:51 AM

Using "reward" to describe Adnan compensating Jay really doesn't make sense. "Hired" isn't much better, Jay isn't in the business of covering up crimes. "Paid" is the only word that makes sense to me.

Posted by: carnotbrown | Aug 26, 2015 11:45:24 AM

Thanks. Have you got a source for the reward promotion pre-2/1? (The posters refer to her body having been found, therefore are clearly from much later).

Posted by: Cupcake | Aug 26, 2015 11:47:01 AM

I can't explain why reward was written, but I don't have the full notes. In your opinion, why would they go to the trouble of destroying notes from the interview, but go ahead and turn over the motorcycle valuation stuff anyway?

Posted by: Theghostoftomlandry | Aug 26, 2015 11:54:23 AM

MacGillivary wrote everything but the last page, which appears to be in Ritz's handwriting.

Posted by: Susan | Aug 26, 2015 12:03:42 PM

Another thought I had was that Jen could have been the tipster, and the tip had nothing to do with Adnan, but rather with Jay. In that case, it would make sense that she wouldn't be paid until Jay was indicted. It would also explain why the tipster didn't have any helpful information, if we believe most of Jen's statement to the police. If she were the tipster, she might have told CrimeStoppers that Jay was connected with Hae's disappearance, and even might have given Jay's phone number or told them that Jay was driving Adnan's car that day. That would explain why they pulled Adnan's car records (and/or if she gave Jay's phone number, the cops could have pulled his records and seen the call from Adnan's phone, leading them to then pull Adnan's cell phone records). I just have a hard time believing that Jay, who was so distrustful of the police and supposedly worried about being seen as a snitch, would call in a tip for such a relatively small reward. And from Jen's police statement, it seems like she was honestly freaked out about the whole thing and may have reached a point where she felt like she had to do something about it - remember, February 1 is just a few days after "the last Thursday in January," when Jen tells police she saw on the news that Hae was missing and freaked out about it, asking Jay what they were going to do.

Posted by: Ann | Aug 26, 2015 12:05:53 PM

One of the dozens of wrong things in this case/investigation and follow-up is the flowery use of language Jay uses in his Intercept interview.

Listening to Jay speak in his taped interviews is a curious adventure to say the least.

Reading his carefully crafted and intricately woven language in the Intercept article and comparing them to the tapes is nothing less than astonishing.

I have always felt this way but the latest Undisclosed podcast provided more evidence that someone was speaking for Jay: learning to ride a motorcycle. Read the line again and it screams bizarre coming from Jay's mouth. I feel like Jay may have provided some info and whoever (potentially someone who was once an aspiring author?) crafted his words sprinkled that in. Him talking about "back then" is so strange.

But that's not my point. What would happen if someone came forward and admitted knowledge that Jay owned a bike back in 1999/2000?

Posted by: Piper | Aug 26, 2015 12:11:36 PM

I have a more big-picture kind of question related to this. Up to know, my sense was that Jay had been coached by the detectives to come up with a story that somehow matched the cell tower data and implicated Adnan (and Jay went for it to avoid being charged himself).

But now, if Jay is the tipster (or Jenn, or somehow appointed by Jay), this means that he initially pointed to Adnan, even before having any conversation with the detectives working on the case right? So why did he do it? One possibility is that he was involved and knew details, but wanted the reward so he tipped anonymously. But this seems inconsistent with what you guys said about the tip being very vague and lacking real facts. If he wasn’t involved, did he do it for the money? And he pointed to Adnan because he knew he had recently broken up with Hae and that he might have a hard time coming up with an alibi on the day of the murder? This seems possible, but there is no confirmation that he collected the reward himself, and you guys said he did not buy Brown’s motorcycle anyway. Is there evidence or suspicion that he bought any other vehicle in November 1999 then? And if, like I said, he has no involvement in the crime, why on Earth does he implicate with the burial, the shovels, the trunk pop and all of that accessory stuff? For the possibility of the $3075? If this is the case, it makes me very sad, and I wish he would come clean now so the real murderer can be found.

Posted by: Vicky | Aug 26, 2015 12:18:14 PM

Why does it say Bilal in the left margin of page 2? You know, the guy who Jay said was the tipster? Did Jay even know who Bilal was at that point?

Posted by: jorge | Aug 26, 2015 12:47:20 PM

Carnotbrown: Agreed.

Cupcake: Yes, I have confirmation that there was a reward in place as of 2/1.

Theghostoftomlandry: They didn’t turn it over during trial. It was, however, part of the MPIA response. As a comparison, you can consider the Nicolas case, in which the State failed to take out the previously undisclosed statements given to Massey and two other detectives by people hearing gunshots at 9:45-10:00 P.M. My best guess is that whoever put together the MPIA responses in both cases didn’t know the significance of the documents.

Susan: Interesting. I wonder what that means. I have some questions about whether other notations were added later, which we’ll address on Monday.

Ann: Interesting thoughts. If you’re right, that’s very much a Brady violation.

Piper: It would be more circumstantial evidence, but we’d need some direct evidence.

Vicky: Jay said at the 2nd trial that he now had a car. As for Jay, motivation if he was the tipster…who knows? Maybe he wanted the money. Maybe he was involved and was shifting blame. Maybe he really hated Adnan. Or maybe he really thought he was guilty.

Jorge: Good questions. I does kind of look like “Bilal.” I’m not sure if that’s what it actually says or whether Jay knew Bilal at that point.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 26, 2015 1:34:06 PM

I don't understand how the police or prosecutors end up having the identity of the tipster if Crimestoppers doesn't ask for it. Do you have any information about that?

Posted by: Allison | Aug 26, 2015 1:52:19 PM

Allison: The lead detective on the case is present for the pay-out.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 26, 2015 2:00:59 PM

OK, I get what you are saying. What I am saying is this: IF there is this overarching motorcycle thing going on and they, as you suggested more than once in the post, shredded the report of the interview with Brown, why, in your opinion, would they not also shred the motorcycle stuff?

Posted by: theghostoftomlandery | Aug 26, 2015 2:43:34 PM

"[Jay] who was so distrustful of the police and supposedly worried about being seen as a snitch, would call in a tip for such a relatively small reward" -
You know I work with lots of teenagers, and have managed like two hundred of them over the last decade. In an affluent white suburb.

$3000 is a ungodly fortune to a teenager. Perhaps not to an adult with a mortgage and student loans and credit cards, but I can tell you that a sum like that would look something akin to a pot of gold or the lost city of El Dorado to many, many teenagers.

Posted by: James | Aug 26, 2015 3:32:02 PM

Do we think the 'notes from Jay's third police interview' pages in the two different handwritings are/are supposed to be consecutive? Bent out of shape spiral binding (on the McGillivary page but not the other) looks like page(s) might have been pulled out at some point.

Posted by: WLJ | Aug 26, 2015 3:45:33 PM

So yes this seems it could be a Brady violation, but doesn't this blow a hole in your theory that Jays confession was coerced by the police. Do you believe that Adan had nothing to do with the murder and Jay just randomly decide to call Crimestoppers and report Adnan?

Posted by: Paul | Aug 26, 2015 6:39:49 PM

Given the timing of the payout, isn't the simplest explanation that the tipster gave information about Jay, not Adnan? That would rule out Jay as the tipster.

Posted by: James | Aug 27, 2015 7:01:58 AM

theghostoftomlandery: Human errors. There are any number of cases where the attempt to leave no paper trail fails.

James: Agreed. If, for instance, Jay was getting minimum wage and working 40 hours a week, $3,000 would be between 3-4 months of gross pay.

WLJ: All of those pages are together as one document in the MPIA files. It seems like MacGillivary wrote most of the notes, with Ritz writing the ones at the end. We’ll discuss the ride-along notes more on Monday.

Paul: We’ve found a number of cases in which someone calls CrimeStoppers and falsely report a crime before being fed information by police that leads to a wrongful conviction. Did that happen here? I don’t know. But imagine if Jay called CrimeStoppers on February 1st and said that Adnan killed Hae and dumped her body or car in a lake. That would certainly raise some big questions.

James: That’s quite possible, and that would be a huge Brady violation.

Note: This is the 25th comment. Due to a quirk with the commenting system, other comments cannot be posted.

Posted by: Colin | Aug 27, 2015 7:31:54 AM

Post a comment