EvidenceProf Blog

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Was Nisha Interviewed on March 13th & Did That Interview Lead to Jay's 2nd Interview?

When did the police first interview Nisha? It's one of the great unanswered questions in this case. We have one, and only one, set of notes from a police interview with Nisha. These notes indicate that the interview took place on April 1, 1999 at 6:55:

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.16.12 AM

This would seem consistent with the April 20th Progress Report I previously posted, which indicated that, on April 1st, "interviews were conducted with friends/classmates of the victim Hae Lee and suspect, Adnan Syed" at the Baltimore County Police Department's Woodlawn Precinct.*

As I noted in another post, however, there is an April 17th Progress Report indicating that, on April 9, 1999, the police (and Vickie Wash) interviewed (1) classmates Becky, Peter, and Nina at school; and (2) Nisha at her residence in Silver Spring. So, was Nisha actually interviewed at her home on April 9th instead of at the Woodlawn Precinct on April 1st?** And, if so, why does an August 23rd Amended Disclosure state that Nisha's address is unknown?

On the other hand, did the police actually interview Nisha before April 1st? I've posted before about the following entry on Cristina Gutierrez's April 18th legal services contract with Adnan:


The obvious takeaway from this entry is that Nisha was the Hindu female friend interviewed on March 13th. After all, Nisha is Hindu and we know that the police asked her questions about Islam. We also have no record of any interviews with other Hindu female friends of Adnan.

Of course, there is no record of such a March 13th interview, which means that either (1) Gutierrez got the date wrong; or (2) the notes from this interview somehow disappeared from the State's files. If we look at Adnan's call log from January 13, 1999, option 2 looks a lot more likely than option 1.   

Here's that call log:

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.08.03 AM

Let's now do a timeline showing when the police interviewed six out of the eight*** people listed on this call log.

Yaser: February 15, 1999.

Jenn: First interviewed on February 26, 1999.

Jay: First (officially) interviewed on February 28, 1999.

Krista: Interviewed on March 1, 1999.

"Ann": Interviewed on March 2, 1999.

Patrick/Patrice:**** March 11, 1999.

So, all of these people were interviewed between February 15th-March 11th, including the other people -- Krista and Jenn -- called multiple times. Why, then, would the police wait until April 1st or 9th to talk to a person who (1) appeared three times on Adnan's January 13th call log, including at the crucial time of 3:32 P.M.; and (2) was the recipient of three additional calls from Adnan on January 12th, including the very first call that he placed?

The only other person from the call log who wasn't (officially) interviewed in February or March was Phil (3:48 call), but the difference with Phil is that we have no record of him ever being interviewed.***** We also know that the police were having difficulty determining the name associated with the the 3:48 call long after they had determined this information for the other calls.

All of this makes it seem exceedingly likely that Nisha was interviewed before April 1st.**** But is there any reason to believe that an interview on March 13th would specifically make sense? Yes. On that same date, Dolly Dobrzycki created a transcript of Jay's February 28th interview:

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.20.12 PM

It's easy to imagine MacGillivary, Ritz, or Wash reading this transcription, comparing it to Adnan's call log, and realizing that Jay never mentioned the 3:32 P.M. call in his February 28th interview. This probably would have been done toward the end of business hours, which (along with Wash presenting witnesses to the grand jury during the day) would explain why a possible interview with Nisha would have taken place at 7:30 P.M., as indicated in the legal services contract.

If this indeed happened, Nisha likely told them about the call in which Adnan put her on the line to talk to Jay. We know that Jay's second interview was on March 15th, meaning that it was likely set up on March 14th or possibly on the 15th. In this interview, Jay suddenly recalled that, on January 13th, Adnan put him on the phone to talk to a girl from Silver Spring. If Nisha were in fact interviewed on March 13th, was what she said about the Jay call the impetus for Jay's second interview? And, if so, what do you think that Ritz and MacGillivary told Jay about this interview during the 3 hour pre-interview before his March 15th interview?


*That said, there's no record of the police interviewing anyone else on April 1st.

**Or was she interviewed on both days.

***Excluding Hae.

****Serial lists Patrick, but the line was in Patrice's name.

*****He was also only called once.

******I also think it makes it seem exceedingly likely that Phil was interviewed at some point.



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Everything that Jay has ever said is up for grabs. Yet CG couldn't convince a jury of this. Hmmm.

Posted by: Bruce | Mar 29, 2016 10:43:11 AM

Yikes, are not Hinduism and Islam....really different?! I guess this gets into issues of cultural/religious/regional identification, but really, these detectives and attorneys come off as ignorant and imprecise.

Posted by: alex | Mar 29, 2016 11:25:07 AM

I think Nisha really is Hindu--right? Making it all the more likely that the only possible person the note is referring to is her.

Posted by: Paul | Mar 29, 2016 12:29:48 PM

If Nisha was interviewed on 3/13 and the notes weren't given to the defense, is it potentially Brady material? What if the detectives had the notes but the prosecution never had the notes? Is it still potentially Brady in that situation?

Posted by: Jodi | Mar 29, 2016 1:07:16 PM

The police sure knew quite a bit about Adnan's day before Jay's February 28 "first" interview. I find it hard to believe that they gathered this much private information in just 45 days, but couldn't find a car sitting out in the open in the same amount of time.

Nisha is a red herring. The prosecution just used her to confuse the jury, so Jay would be believable.

Posted by: Tim | Mar 29, 2016 1:28:07 PM

off topic (response to twitter question, sorry no twitter account) re ? 300 Edgwood. The 'Edg' looks weird to me and different to the 'ewood'. Like maybe that first 'd' started as an 'o' and the 'g' started as an 's'. 800/300 Rosewood?

Posted by: WLJ | Mar 29, 2016 2:05:49 PM

@jody, from my understanding of Brady material (I am a criminal attorney in Texas), the prosecutor is charged with the knowledge of the police. So even if the prosecutor never even KNEW about the exculpatory material, but the police had it in their file, that is still a Brady violation.

Posted by: Cibi | Mar 29, 2016 2:25:12 PM

This is potential gold Colin. That would be a great example where the pattern of inconsistencies doesn't create an endless the chicken or the egg debate.
I haven't read her "official interview", but an earlier one could perhaps explain why Nisha has the detail of Adnan getting his phone the day before the porn store phone call. Maybe in the first interview they asked her something like this: -The day after he got his phone there's a call to you from Adnan and/or Jay. Have you ever speaken to Adnans friend Jay?

Posted by: Lars in Sweden | Mar 29, 2016 2:33:35 PM


Sort of off topic but today I was listening to the ride along episode of undisclosed and two questions came up:

1 Jay said he thought Adnan's mother called his cell phone but am I correct in thinking that Adnan did not tell his parents he had a cell phone? How would she know to call him and how would she have the number?

2 you discussed some of the stipulations that CG made. If a new trial is granted is the slate wiped clean as far as those stipulations are concerned? Can the diary and other stipulated evidence like the car video be argued again?

Posted by: Eric | Mar 29, 2016 2:58:05 PM

Bruce: What was it that Irwin said about cross-examination? The shorter the better.

alex: It’s not often that an ASA has to apologize for their comments, as occurred in this case.

Paul: Yes, Nisha is Hindu.

Jodi: It’s Brady even if the prosecution had the notes, but only if those notes contain material exculpatory evidence.

Tim: If only Gutierrez pointed out when Jay started his job at the adult video store.

WLJ: I will probably post the whole document tomorrow.

Cibi: Indeed.

Lars: Right. A March 13th interview of Nisha would explain a lot.

Eric: (1) I think it’s unclear whether his mother knew he had a cell phone. (2) At a new trial, the slate would be wiped clean.

Posted by: Colin | Mar 29, 2016 6:03:38 PM

Jodi-Yes it's Brady violation regardless of whether only the cops had the documents. If the police have it, then the defendant has a constitutional right to it. It also doesn't matter if it was done inz good faith or in bad faith.

The reason stems from the fact that Brady violations are about restoring a defendant his constitutional right to due process--it's not about punishing the prosecutors for malfeasance, regardless of how innocent or how egregious the behavior was.

Cuz, yaknow, a fundamental rule in our legal system is we NEVER punish prosecutors for malfeasance. If they get caught, they are just told they have to start the trial over again. Definitely no personal or professional repercussions.

And we wonder why they continue to do it so brazenly....

Posted by: Paul | Mar 29, 2016 8:49:17 PM


Second try, so I will try to be quick! I thought I remember hearing that Jenn P's lawyer that was with her and her mother when speaking to the Police was in fact a neighbor to one of the police officers investigating the case. Is this true? Can't remember where I heard it but it just seems to be another odd "association" in this case. Your thoughts?

Posted by: PiaPill | Mar 29, 2016 11:13:31 PM

Does Team Adnan know where Nisha is now? If so, can they talk to her?

Posted by: Karen | Mar 30, 2016 8:17:24 AM

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