EvidenceProf Blog

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

If the Police Didn't Interview Nisha Before March 15th, Why Did They Wait Until April 1st/9th?

In yesterday's post, I laid out the evidence Nisha was interviewed before Jay's second interview on March 15, 1999. Today, I will approach this argument from a different angle. If the police had not interviewed Nisha before March 15, 1999, the question becomes whether their subsequent actions make any sense.

We know that it was an early priority for the police to locate people whom had spoken to Adnan on January 13, 1999. According to a March 7th Progress Report,

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.07.27 AM

Later, on March 9th, Detective MacGillivaey did talk to NHRNC (Not Her Real Name Cathy), who told him that Jay and Adnan came over to her apartment between 5:15 and 6:00 P.M. on January 13th. And then, on March 11th, Detectives MacGillivary and Ritz talked to Patrice (3:59 P.M. call), with apparent negative results. Jenn, of course, had previously told the detectives that she saw Jay and Adnan together in the Westview Mall parking lot in the 8:00 P.M. hour.

What this means is that the detectives had to be pretty close to the end of their ropes as they talked to Jay on March 15, 1999. Early in that interview, Jay shifted his story from an Edmondson Avenue trunk pop to a Best Buy trunk pop without a great explanation, meaning that he could be thoroughly impeached by a competent attorney at trial. And, at this point, they had no one who could corroborate Jay's claim that Adnan and he were together during the crucial period of time starting with the trunk pop and ending with Jay dropping Adnan off at track practice. As noted yesterday, the police had already interviewed nearly everyone identifiable from Adnan's call log on January 13th, and Jay hadn't mentioned Adnan and he interacting with anyone else* between the trunk pop and track practice. 

But then, something miraculous happened. During his second interview, Jay suddenly remembered a January 13th phone call in which Adnan handed him the cell phone to talk to a girl from Silver Spring. Or maybe it was much less miraculous. The other obvious scenario involves the detectives showing Jay the call log during the three hours pre-interview on March 15th and asking him to explain the 3:32 P.M. call to the number/girl in Silver Spring, which he did.

In either event, the detectives now had a key piece of information: A phone call to someone who could place Jay and Adnan together at 3:32 P.M. on January 13, 1999. Moreover, barring Phil (3:48 P.M. call) having useful information, this was likely the only person who could place Jay and Adnan together between the trunk pop and track practice. And Jay didn't mention Phil in his second interview.

So, if you're the detectives, you jump on this information, right? It had been just over two months since January 13th, and every day that passed created the risk of this witness forgetting key details of this conversation or forgetting it entirely. Moreover, if you somehow forgot that Jay made this claim about the handed-off phone call, he repeated it a mere three days later during his ride-along on March 18th.

And yet, the official story is that the detectives sat on this information and waited either 17 or 25 days to interview Nisha, depending on whether you think her interview took place on April 1st or April 9th. Does this make any sense? It seems clear as day that, as of March 15th, Nisha was the most important new fact witness to interview, a claim that seems corroborated by the fact that no new fact witness other than Nisha who testified for the State at trial was first interviewed after March 15th. Can this delay be explained?


*Except the nameless person who apparently sold them weed.



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Any investigation done after Adnan's arrest would have had the intent of getting a conviction, not finding the truth. Nisha's accurate memory could have either helped or hurt their case. As time passed, her fading memory was more likely to help it.

Posted by: carnotbrown | Mar 30, 2016 8:04:31 AM

carnotbrown: That’s based on the assumption that the detectives thought that Jay was lying and/or mistaken about The Nisha Call, right?

Posted by: Colin | Mar 30, 2016 9:03:11 AM

Given the progress report on the Nisha interview states a meeting was arranged at her residence 'due to her reluctance' to come to the precinct, this strongly suggests they'd had prior conversations with Nisha, perhaps over the phone, or even in person (like when they first spoke with Jenn). As Nisha has nothing to hide, she may well have given lots of helpful information over the phone, though it was not regarded a formal interview.

Posted by: Cupcake | Mar 30, 2016 11:15:34 AM

If you're being generous, you could say that. I think it's more accurate to say that after Adnan's arrest , they stopped caring about truth and lies, and only cared about which statements would help get a conviction, and which ones would work against them. Sigh, who am I kidding? They didn't care before. Time and again, they showed they don't care about the truth. They didn't get the incoming call records. They didn't fact-check any of Jay's ridiculous story (Mrs. Wilds, are you missing any picks or shovels? Do you even own any?), and they never call him out on them (except "You've got two cars, Jay"*). They seemingly did't contact Nisha right away, and there's no record that they ever talked to Phil, even though those calls occurred shortly after Hae disappeared. They didn't interview anyone who lived near where Hae's car was found to verify how long it had been there, or to see if anyone had seen Adnan or Jay with it. They never pulled Hae's pager records. They never spoke to Jenn's friends to corroborate her story. I don't think they talked to Jenn's brother to corroborate Jay's alibi.
If you don't do any of those things, you don't care about the truth. All you care about is an arrest, and then a conviction.

* Yes, they did say that Jay wasn't completely honest before, which is a sufficiently vague way of leaving the door open to revise the story later. They do not call him out on anything specific.

Posted by: carnotbrown | Mar 30, 2016 11:26:06 AM

Why is there not an "Undisclosed" podcast this week? I'm addicted!

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 30, 2016 2:55:03 PM

I suspect they did not interview Nisha until April 1st. My bet is that Jay was told that he needed to explain that particular call and somehow prove that both he and Adnan were there during it ( I imagine this would have been incentivized by either getting him off the hook for the murder, or the promise of the reward money from the crime stoppers tip). The delay is so that Jay can get Adnan to pass over the phone for him to say Hi when Nisha is on a call with Adnan. I bet that the call in the adult video store happened at some point after the 15th, but with sufficient time for Nisha to forget when it was. Sadly as usual, Jay screws up a little because the call is at entirely the wrong time (hard to do it at the right time because Nisha is not home at that time), and the Video store is mentioned somewhere in the conversation. I would also go so far as to say that the police asked Nisha if she remembered a call where Adnan put Jay on, but not when it was.

Posted by: Dean | Mar 30, 2016 5:12:13 PM

Perhaps I'm getting "oldtimer's disease" but I can't seem to recall any evidence presented which would indicate that Hae was buried under dirt. Were the sky-side of her clothes muddy? (Not just leaf rot.) I would expect them to be. If not then what would shovels have been used for? Depending on the answer, shovels should be considered another red flag.

Actually, there are so many red flags that Jay should've been directing traffic at a road construction site.

Posted by: Guido | Mar 30, 2016 5:27:19 PM

Cupcake: Good point.

carnotbrown: Right, and we can add ”Takera” to the mix.

Anonymous: I don’t know when we’ll have our closing argument episode.

Dean: Adnan was in prison starting on 2/28, so there’s no way the call could have been after 3/15.

Guido: It’s unclear how Hae was “buried” in Leakin Park.

Posted by: Colin | Mar 30, 2016 5:40:23 PM

Dean: I think this was more so just fortuitous, as once Adnan was arrested there could be no manufacturing of calls.

I see it more as the cops telling him "What's this phone call here (tap tap), do you know who Adnan was calling in Silver Spring?"

Then the cops simply play a game of twenty questions. I think much of Jays pre-interviews went like this. A weird version of serialized games of Twenty Questions, except with all "No" answers becoming "Come on now, be honest and tell us the truth" and "Yes" answers becoming "mmm-hmm. Right. Tell us more..."

Posted by: Paul | Mar 30, 2016 11:24:21 PM

It's shocking to me that so many of us rank amateurs can rattle off, like carnotbrown just did, such a long list of really simple and painfully obvious things that the police *didn't* do to investigate this crime. While at the same time they were wasting hour after hour and endless resources doing double backflips and manipulating and manufacturing as much as they could to get a conviction against Adnan.

If this is how police departments investigate crimes, it's no wonder we have prisons full of innocent people and violent felons committing crime after crime. What does it take to get the police to actually investigate a crime???

Posted by: Eric Wolff | Mar 31, 2016 3:59:46 AM

The things you forget when excited about a good conspiracy :)

Posted by: Dean | Mar 31, 2016 9:14:24 AM

One thing I think all commenters here (and hopefully Colin) can agree with is that there is no evidence that once Adnan was arrested the police ever took a risk that something could be produced as evidence if it wasn't helpful to their case. They avoided unearthing exculpatory evidence like the plague, even when Adnan was just a suspect. So don't you think it would be extremely risky for them to record Jay saying that he spoke to Nisha on the phone while they were driving all around Baltimore if they didn't already have a statement from Nisha that she had talked to Jay on the phone at least once? It was a key piece of corroborating evidence that Jay was telling the "truth" that Adnan was with him at 3:30 that afternoon, but it could have blown the case for them if Nisha were later called by the defense and testified that she never talked to Jay on the phone. I think there's no question that the cops talked to Nisha before the official notes state, it's just a question of whether or not they put written notes in the file and later "lost" them or never took written notes at all.

Posted by: Dan | Mar 31, 2016 10:24:11 AM

Hey Colin - a little off topic but I have a question for you. Do you know if Adnan remembers where he was when he got the call from the police on January 13th? If I'm correct, you guys have discounted them being at NHRNC's that day but the state says that is where he received the call I think. Thanks, Charlotte

Posted by: Charlotte | Apr 1, 2016 7:17:18 AM

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