Monday, November 16, 2015
I have written before about issues that the defense had with subpoenas in the Adnan Syed case. Cristina Gutierrez and her team apparently refused/failed to talk to five witnesses the defense had subpoenaed (despite asking these witnesses to call Gutierrez). In a document containing a list of the first set of witnesses to be subpoenaed, the name of Hae's best friend -- Aisha -- was written as "Asia," suggesting that the defense might have confused Hae's best friend with Adnan's crucial alibi witness. A law student/clerk was put in charge of subpoenaing Don's work records and misidentified him as an employee of the Hunt Valley LensCrafters.
Additionally, (1) the defense tried to subpoena an assistant track coach at Woodlawn High School despite the fact that he had begun working at Randallstown High School; and (2) the defense unsuccessfully tried to subpoena Krista, getting both her city and zip code wrong.
For months, I've been wondering how the defense failed to contact Adnan's track teammate Will. I think that I now have the answer, and it's much like these latter two examples.
Let's start with the basics. Part of Adnan's alibi for January 13, 1999 has always been that he arrived at track practice on time. Like Adnan, Will was a sprinter; he ran the 55 meter hurdles and possibly other events. As such, he likely would have been among a small group of track teammates practicing with Adnan on January 13th.
Jay's claim is that he dropped Adnan off late for track practice on January 13, 1999 in an attempt to manufacture an alibi. If you cross-reference Jay's claims about The Mom Call with Adnan's call log, it becomes clear that Jay is saying that he dropped Adnan off at track practice after 4:30 P.M., possibly later.
Therefore, anyone who interacted with Adnan at track practice on January 13th could have been a valuable alibi witness. If, like Coach Sye,* a track teammate remembered Adnan arriving on time on January 13th, that teammate could have served as an alibi witness. If that teammate walked over to track practice with Adnan, he could have destroyed the State's case.
In this case, there was strong reason to believe that Will did in fact see Adnan at track practice on January 13th and some reason to believe that he could have accompanied Adnan to practice. According to the ride-along notes from January 13th, Jay told the detectives
So, according to Jay, Adnan said goodbye to Will as Jay picked him up from the Woodlawn parking lot, and Adnan and Will may have walked out together. Therefore, it is easy to imagine Will remembering Adnan arriving on time for track practice on January 13th; it's also possible that the two walked over to track practice together, given that they apparently left practice together.**
When contacted by Sarah Koenig for Serial, however, Will said that he had never been contacted by the defense.*** According to Will, he probably would have remembered the events of January 13th if asked a few years ago, but, by 2014, those memories were gone.
So, what happened back in 1999? I laid some of this out in my prior post. Gutierrez tasked a law student/clerk with creating a list of Adnan's track teammates. That clerk ostensibly looked at a page from the Woodlawn yearbook that had a list of eight indoor track team members who had medaled at a certain event and turned that list into a memo created more than nine months after Hae disappeared. In creating that memo, that student/clerk failed to realize that Will was a senior in 1999, meaning that he would no longer be at Woodlawn High School in the fall of 1999.****
I think you see where this going. Whether because someone recognized Will's significance or because Will fortuitously appeared on the yearbook page, the defense tried to subpoena Will. Here is a copy of the relevant portion of Will's subpoena:
And that's how Will was never contacted: (1) Gutierrez tasks a law student/clerk with making a list of track teammates; (2) the clerk looks at the yearbook and fails to note that Will was a senior in 1999; (3) the defense sends its subpoena to Woodlawn High School despite the fact that Will has graduated, meaning he doesn't receive the subpoena; and (4) as with Krista, the defense never follows up on the subpoena, and the witness is never contacted. As a result, a potential alibi witness with great significance is never called at Adnan's trial.
*In his police statement, not his trial testimony.
**Of course, it's also possible that Will had no recollection of January 13th or that he remembered Adnan arriving to track practice late.
***Or anyone from the State.
****The clerk also apparently failed to realize that there were dozens of other members of the indoor track team.