Tuesday, January 5, 2016
In yesterday's bonus episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, I laid out my current best guess for what happened on January 13, 1999. My theory remains similar to the theory that I advanced on the day the final episode of Serial premiered, more than a year ago: (1) Adnan asked Hae for a ride on the morning of January 13th; (2) Hae initially agreed to give him a ride; and (3) something came up for Hae between lunch and the end of school that led to her not being able to give Adnan a ride. In this post, I will lay out all of the reasons we have for believing that Hae did not end up giving Adnan a ride on January 13th.
Becky, Aisha, and Krista
According to their statements and testimony, Becky, Aisha, and Krista exchanged calls on January 13, 1999 after learning that Hae had failed to pick up her cousin. As such, their memories of the events of the 13th seem more reliable than most. This was a big part of the reason why I firmly concluded over a year ago that Adnan asked Hae for a ride on January 13th; the request appears in the witness statements for both Krista and Becky.
This is also a big part of why I am convinced that Hae told Adnan she couldn't give him a ride at the end of the school day because something came up and she had "something else" to do: Krista told me that she discussed this occurrence with Aisha on the night of the 13th, and it appears in Becky's police statement, with Becky saying it happened as Adnan and Hae were walking in opposite directions.*
So, that is three reliable and objective witnesses, all stating that something came up for Hae on the 13th, meaning that she couldn't give Adnan a ride. Could all three be lying and/or mistaken? I suppose that anything is possible, but, if this were the case, it would call into question whether Adnan asked for a ride in the first place because these are the same witnesses supporting that fact. I think it's safe to assume that they are honest and accurate on both fronts.
That seemingly leaves two possibilities: (1) Hae was telling the truth; or (2) Hae was lying. In that latter scenario, you have to assume that (a) Hae decided between lunch and the end of school that she simply didn't want to give Adnan a ride; (b) she decided to lie to Adnan in front of her friends about the reason she couldn't give him a ride; and (c) rather than making up a lie about having to do something at school, she claimed the "something else" was somewhere else and headed to her car soon after school. Moreover, if you think that Adnan did get the ride from Hae under this scenario, you have to believe that (a) Adnan later convinced Hae to give him a ride despite her going to great lengths to lie about why she couldn't give him a ride; and (b) no one else saw/remembered this event in a crowded parking lot after school.
In the former possibility, we have the question of why no one has come forward in the last 17 years to say that they had plans with Hae on the afternoon of the 13th but that she never showed up. The way I see it, the answer is that this person is the person who killed Hae: the person Hae left school to see about 40 minutes earlier than her typical departure time of 3:00 P.M.
At trial, Inez Butler was presented as the last person to see Hae alive. She said that she saw Hae leaving school in a hurry in the minutes after school on the 13th. Inez's memory is questionable because she ties her memory to a wrestling match that in all likelihood did not take place on January 13th. That said, Inez ran the concession stand and said that Hae stopped by on a daily basis to get snacks. Therefore, it is certainly possible that Inez did see Hae on January 13th and is simply combining events from different days. Her testimony would actually flow nicely with Becky's testimony as both tend to say that Hae was leaving school in a hurry in the minutes after school.
I mentioned the concession stand. As Krista showed in her sketch, it was located in a glass enclosure that looked out upon the bus loop where Hae would have parked before getting her snacks. In her police statement, Inez said that she saw Hae "jump out of her car" before running up to the concession stand. Inez, however, does not mention seeing Adnan in the car, and you can bet that the police and the prosecutors would have asked her about seeing him and included her response if she saw him. Therefore, in all likelihood, Inez did not see Adnan in Hae's car, which further supports the proposition that Adnan did not get a ride from Hae. It certainly contradicts the State's theory at trial that Adnan was actually driving Hae's car.
Asia McClain, Her Boyfriend, and His Friend
This one goes without saying. Asia says that she saw Adnan in the Woodlawn Public Library on the afternoon of the 13th. She says that she saw him until 2:40 P.M., and she contradicts the idea that Adnan got a ride from Hae if we believe that she saw Adnan at the library for even just a few minutes as long as we also believe that either Becky or Inez was the last innocent person to see Hae alive.** Moreover, according to Asia, they weren't alone: Her boyfriend and his friend saw the two of them together. That's all I will say about Asia for now. Everyone will get to see what she says during direct and cross-examination in about a month.
Debbie has always been the biggest question mark for me. I tend to think she has the wrong day, but I also think it's possible she's combining events from different days. Let's look at the various permutations. In her first police statement, Debbie says that Hae told her after school on January 13th that she was going to see Don. If we believe this statement, Don was presumably the "something else," and Hae did not give Adnan a ride.
Indeed, this is what Debbie herself thought. In her third police statement,*** Debbie says that she initially suspected that Hae was with Don and that he was responsible for her disappearance. She then says, however, that she had a seven hour phone conversation with Don, during which Don (1) convinced Debbie that he had nothing to do with Hae's disappearance; and (2) told Debbie that he figured Adnan had something to do with her disappearance.****
In her third statement, Debbie says that she saw Adnan at the guidance counselor's office at 2:45 P.M. on January 13th, which could be corroborated (or not) by the guidance counselor's testimony that she gave Adnan his recommendation later on the day. In this statement, Debbie again says that she talked to Hae but no longer says Hae was going to see Don. In this version, Debbie recalls "Takera" and no one else asking Hae for a ride, with Haw responding that she can't give anyone a ride because she's picking up her cousin.
Under this version, if Debbie is right about seeing Adnan and wrong about seeing Hae, Adnan didn't get a ride from Hae because he's at the guidance counselor's office after Hae has left school (as per Becky and/or Inez). If Debbie is right about seeing Hae, then Hae wasn't giving anyone a ride.
At trial, Coach Sye testified that he had no way of knowing whether, on January 13th, Adnan was at practice, which started at approximately 4:00 P.M. That said, in his police interview, Coach Sye recalled Adnan being on time for practice on a day that only could have been January 13th, with Sye seemingly telling both the cops and the defense PI that practice started at 3:30 P.M. I will admit that this is far from a sure thing, but there is certainly a plausible argument that Adnan was at practice at 3:30 P.M. on January 13, 1999. And, if he was, the timing really doesn't work for Adnan to have gotten a ride from Hae and killed her. For one thing, it would completely rule out The Nisha Call.
That's nine witnesses, all of whom can be said to support the proposition that Adnan did not get a ride from Hae on January 13th. All of them can also be said to support the 9 point theory I laid out in a comment on yesterday's post:
(1) between 2:15 and 2:20 P.M., Hae said that she couldn’t give Adnan a ride because something came up and she had “something else” to do; (2) Hae left school before 2:40 P.M.; (3) Adnan saw Asia at the library and/or Debbie at the guidance counselor’s office until after Hae had left school; (4) Adnan went to track practice; (5) Jay picked Adnan up from track practice; (6) Adnan smoked a blunt; (7) they got food, they possibly went to Cathy’s place, and they drove around for a while so that Adnan could get rid of his high, with the cell phone being somewhere (outside Leakin Park) in the broad coverage range of L689B at 7:09 and 7:16 P.M. (or the phone was outside of the range of L689B, with the incoming pings not being reliable for determining location); (8) Adnan dropped Jay off at the mall or his house soon after 8:00 P.M.; and (9) Adnan went to the Mosque, where he prepared his prayers with Bilal for the next night.
As I also noted in that comment,
There are only two pieces of evidence that possibly contradict this version of events: (1) the 3:32 P.M. call to Nisha; and (2) Jay. As for the call to Nisha, she says it occurred when Adnan was visiting Jay at his shop, and Jay’s first day of work at ANY job in 1999 was on January 25th. Therefore, (1) is really part of (2) because it is only Jay’s version of The Nisha Call which is incriminatory, and (1) Jay didn’t mention this call until his second interview, after being shown the call log; and (2) pretty much nobody believes Jay’s version of The Nisha Call (Forest Park golf course).
The Nisha Call isn't the only thing that Jay failed to mention in his first interview. In that interview, Jay says that he has no idea how Adnan got in Hae's car; he only knows that Adnan had Hae's car at the Best Buy. It isn't until after Krista's interview, in which she mentioned the ride request, that a very similar story becomes part of Jay's story in his second interview: Adnan told Jay before the murder that he would tell Hae his car was broken down so that he could get a ride and kill her.
So, was Jay simply parroting what Krista said, with no actual knowledge that Adnan got a ride from Hae? On Serial, Chris said that Jay told him a version of the murder where there was no ride, or at least no ride away from Woodlawn. According to Chris, Jay said the murder took place in the library parking lot. In Episode 12, Jay's co-worker Josh remembered a similar story. More recently, Neighbor Boy told Bob Ruff a version of the story where Jay claimed Adnan came to Hae's workplace and killed her, which would also mean that there was no ride. In between, Jay gave an interview to The Intercept, in which he said that (1) Adnan did not tell Jay ahead of time that he was going to kill Hae; (2) he did not see Hae's car in the Best Buy parking lot; and (3) he now believes the murder didn't take place at Best Buy. The ride story is gone. In other words, there are several witnesses who say that Adnan could not or did not get a ride from Hae and no one other than Jay who says that he did get a ride, but only in some versions of his story.
After all this time and everything considered in this case, that's what everything comes down to in the end: Jay. His story is the only piece of evidence that contradicts an "innocent Adnan" version of events like the one laid out above. As I noted yesterday,
Any other piece of evidence about the afterschool events of January 13th is only relevant as it relates to Jay’s various versions of events. The (un)broken windshield wiper lever is only relevant if we believe Jay’s story that Adnan told him Hae kicked it while he was strangling her. The lividity evidence is only relevant to contradict Jay’s claims about Hae being “pretzeled up” in the trunk for 4-5 hour and buried in the 7:00 P.M. hour. And so on and so forth.
So, basically, if you think Adnan is guilty, you accept that Jay has lied about several things, been mistaken about several others, and changed his story based upon being given new information (e.g., shifting McDonald's to Cathy's). You know that he was told by police that he would be charged with murder if he didn't point the finger at Adnan, you know that his pro bono attorney thought he would be subject to the death penalty in Baltimore County if he didn't play ball, and you know that he would have received no prison time and an expunged conviction if he stayed out of trouble for two years or less. And yet, despite all this, you believe the spine of Jay's story, which is nothing more and nothing less than that Adnan killed Hae. Meanwhile, if you think that Adnan is innocent, you think that everything listed above and other possibilities, such as Jay being the CrimeStoppers tipster, makes it so that you can't trust anything Jay says, including his core allegation that Adnan killed Hae.
*In Becky's trial testimony, she mentions Hae heading to the door that led to her car right after school because she had somewhere else to be and does not mention Adnan being present. I don't know whether this was an oversight by Becky or a failure by Gutierrez to ask the right question. If it was an intentional choice by Becky, it's possible that Hae told Becky and/or Aisha that something had come up but failed to communicate this fact to Adnan. In this alternate scenario, we would have a pretty good explanation for why Adnan told Adcock on the night of the 13th that he didn't get a ride from Hae because he figured she got tired of waiting and left.
**Both say Hae left school in a hurry in the minutes after school ended.
***The notes/transcript of Debbie's second police interview are missing.
****I find this statement interesting. Don testified at trial to their interaction being cordial and said the same to Sarah during Serial. Debbie also told the police that she had no awareness of Adnan asking Hae for a ride on January 13th. So, why did Don tell Debbie that he figured Adnan had something to do with her disappearance?