Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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:
The final notations in those same ride-along notes are as follows:
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.