EvidenceProf Blog

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

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Second Interview of Not Her Real Name Cathy

Here's a quick post on the Adnan Syed case for Labor Day. On March 9, 1999, Detectives Ritz and Carew interviewed Not Her Real Name Cathy (NHRNC). We've known about this for quite some time. We also knew that the detectives thereafter interviewed NHRNC's boyfriend Jeff on March 11, 1999, with only the cover sheet (final page) for that interview surviving.

What we didn't know until the State's release of Lotus Notes files earlier this year is that the detectives followed up on the interview with Jeff by speaking to NHRNC again that same day. I was reminded of this when asked about the interview of Jenn at the State's Attorney's Office on March 4, 1999 followed by the STET entered on Jay's disorderly conduct/resisting arrest charges the next day.

As a refresher, Jay's trial story is that: (1) at 4:27 P.M., Adnan received a cell phone call from his mother or at least someone speaking in a foreign language; (2) after the call, Adnan went to track practice; (3) after dropping Adnan off at track practice, Jay went to NHRNC's place and smoked weed with NHRNC and Jeff; (4) Jay received a call (which call?) to pick up Adnan at track practice; (5) Jay picked Adnan up from track practice; and (6) Jay and Adnan went to NHRNC's place and hung out.

So, what did Jeff tell the detectives that led them to speak with NHRNC again? And why don't we have any notes from either Jeff's interview or the second "interview" of NHRNC? One thing we do know is this: This interview was one of the last (documented) things that the detectives did before interviewing Jay a second time on March 15, 1999.

On March 11, 1999, the detectives also spoke to Patrice (second to last page), whose phone received a call from Adnan's cell phone on January 13, 1999 at 3:59 P.M., but, again, there are no notes for this interview. Adnan's current PI spoke to Patrice, who recalled the detectives apparently trying to convince her that Jay was at her house on January 13th and either made or received a call while he was there.

This then takes us to March 13, 1999, when, according to the legal services contract between Adnan and Gutierrez,

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 10.38.47 AM

Presumably, this is referring to an interview of Nisha, even though there are no notes of any interviews of Nisha before April 1st or April 9th, depending on which version of the State's files you believe.

So, again, either nothing or maybe 1 or 2 things were done between the second interview of NHRNC and the second interview of Jay. I'd love to know what led to detectives to reinterview her and what she (or Jeff) said.




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The missing Jeff J. interview is concerning, imo. If he basically confirmed Jay and/or NHRNC's account of the day, he's a better witness than his girlfriend. After all, he's present at the apartment for all three Jay visits that day, and he's also the one Jay supposedly told Adnan had just killed his girlfriend.

If he denied all that, it's a Brady violation, imo.

Posted by: bacchys | Sep 5, 2016 9:48:00 AM

I've always thought showing up to track practice an hour late is a pretty shitty alibi. Almost more likely to remember that someone was an hour late than not there at all.

Posted by: Narizarielka | Sep 5, 2016 3:11:12 PM

Not a lawyer, don't play one on TV -- is it normal for notes of interviews of serious cases like this to be discarded?

Posted by: Lisa | Sep 5, 2016 3:34:23 PM

Looks for all the world as if the detectives talked to Jenn and NHRN Cathy about the events of the afternoon/evening of the 13th, then promptly lost the notes for their interviews with all other parties who received and/or witnessed calls to and from Adnan's phone between 12:07 pm and 6:24 pm, before going on to get what turned out to be a new version of the story from Jay.

For some reason.

Posted by: pluscachange | Sep 5, 2016 6:53:27 PM

Although of course it's also possible that they lost them *after*.

Posted by: pluscachange | Sep 5, 2016 6:56:43 PM

@bacchys It's pure conjecture, but it appears to me if Jeff contradicted NHRNC. If Jeff confirmed NHRNC's account, would a second interview be necessary? Again, this is just conjecture.

Posted by: tim | Sep 5, 2016 9:50:16 PM

Hmmmm... Didn't you guys determine that the visit to her NHRNC's apartment wasn't even on the day Hae went missing? Or that neither of them could confirm that it was actually Adnan who was there with Jay?

Posted by: Jeannette | Sep 5, 2016 10:11:39 PM

If he confirmed Jay's story, we would have heard from him at trial.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 5, 2016 11:00:45 PM

bacchys: Right, he could have been a hugely valuable witness for the prosecution…if he corroborated Jay.

Narizarielka: Agreed. I don’t understand how driving around trying to score weed makes sense when Adnan could have simply had Jay drop him off at track practice earlier.

Lisa: Not at all. This case is very abnormal.

pluscachange: And it’s not just those witnesses. After Adnan was arrested, Krista was interviewed on 3/1, followed by interviews with Aisha, Debbie, and “Ann” on 3/2. The notes for the latter three interviews are all “missing.”

tim: It seems to be hood conjecture.

Jeannette: We determined that the conference she attended was very likely on a different day. Personally, I think she’s confabulating different days.

Paul: Agreed.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 6, 2016 3:34:59 AM

I really am less interested in the lost detective notes than I am in the lost Adnan timelines that he provided for his PI, Flohr, and CG post 2:15. I don't care so much what Jay says during track practice as I am what Adnan says. In the case he is innocent - providing this timeline may jog someone's memory or we could crowd source how to prove it to be true. Of course, I think we all know the reason why this document will never be released.

Posted by: csom_1991 | Sep 6, 2016 4:04:59 AM

csom_1991: We have two sets of notes about Adnan’s post-2:15 P.M. actions: (1) the clerk’s notes from his 7/13 interview of Adnan; and (2) Gutierrez’ undated notes. Both have Adnan going to the library and seeing Asia before going to track practice at 3:30 P.M. There’s nothing detailed about Adnan’s post-track practice timeline, probably because the State have given every indication that this timeline wasn’t relevant.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 6, 2016 5:52:34 AM

Its all made up. None of it happened. Stop trying to figure it out

Posted by: ryan | Sep 6, 2016 8:52:55 AM

Ryan, how I wish that were true...

Posted by: Cathy | Sep 6, 2016 3:13:12 PM

I do not understand the importance of the timeline when lividity disproves any timeline, proposed by the prosecution.

Posted by: MarcV | Sep 6, 2016 5:10:45 PM

Six missing interviews is a lot of missing interviews.

Kind of reminds me of Lady Bracknell. ("To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness.")

Posted by: pluscachange | Sep 6, 2016 5:44:45 PM

Colin: to MarcV’s point on lividity, there has been an updated artistic rendition of the burial position based on the 22 known burial/exhumation photos posted to several reddit subs. Can you please confirm or reject this drawing as accurate based on the photos you have seen? If it does not match your photo set due to lacking some of the photos, I can probably arrange to send those to you. I think it is important to clear the air on this subject matter as even Rabia in her latest interview with Michael Smirconish stated this was the most compelling evidence for her.

From the picture, the body is buried on its side from the waist down. There is a sharp twist at the waist to the point the shoulders are almost parallel to the ground compared to Susan’s model showing around a 45 degree angle. Susan’s argument on lividity is that that the autopsy shows symmetrical ‘lividity’ in the upper chest region which would not be possible had the body been buried at the 45 degree angle portrayed in her clay model. However, this artistic rendition shows the shoulders nearly parallel to the ground which would be 100% consistent with the observed symmetrical ‘lividity’ – it would not prove that the body was not moved, but it would be consistent with the body’s burial position which then would not necessitate the ‘laid out flat for 12 hours’. We can ignore the position of the left hand at this stage (above/below the body which is accurate in the artistic rendition vs. Susan’s model) as well as the ‘diamond patterns’ that Susan has written about recently and stick strictly to the lividity argument.

So, please confirm/reject that the artistic rendition showing shoulders nearly parallel to the ground as being accurate/inaccurate as this lividity debate continues when it clearly has been falsified by the actual burial position. That said, we can all agree that the wording in the burial report is misleading/vague using the side burial terminology but for the factual argument, the actual photographic evidence should be king.

Posted by: csom_1991 | Sep 6, 2016 9:41:12 PM

csom_1991: If other people and you have additional photos that you believe are relevant, why don’t you send them to a medical examiner/pathologist and ask them whether the body positioning is consistent with the lividity? If none of the people with the photos are willing/able to do that, you could send them to me, and I can pass them along to one of my ME/pathologist contacts, but I assume that their conclusion would be rejected by the only people protesting the current conclusion, which is based on the autopsy report, autopsy photos, trial testimony, and the authenticated crime scene photos. So, I’m not really sure of the point.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 7, 2016 4:10:35 AM

“send them to a medical examiner/pathologist and ask them whether the body positioning is consistent with the lividity?”

Colin – we can skip that whole process as my question was simply about body position. You don’t need to be a medical examiner, anatomy expert, or Math PhD with a specialization in Euclidean Geometry to say whether the shoulders are close to parallel as shown in the artist rendering or closer to a 45 degree angle as presented in Susan’s clay model. So, we can skip the entire lividity discussion for the time being or even the definition of a side burial and start at square 1 – are the shoulders close to parallel or at a 45 degree angle? I assume your reading audience puts enough faith in you to make that distinction. Once we get closure on that aspect, we can move onto whether this position is consistent with lividity and pull in the experts as needed. So, simple question: in your layman’s opinion from viewing the pictures – are the shoulders close to parallel or at a 45 degree angle? Now, if you choose to continue with non-answers to this very basic question, I think your reading audience can ascertain the truth from that. I look forward to your reply.

Posted by: csom_1991 | Sep 7, 2016 7:29:12 AM

csom_1991: Susan’s clay model matches the authenticated crime scene photos that I passed along to medical experts, who concluded that the upper half of Hae’s body was diagonal to the ground, making it inconsistent with the observed lividity in the abdomen/chest. That matches what I see in the photos. Ostensibly, this new artistic rendering was done by someone who saw unauthenticated crime scene photos. The rendering doesn’t match what I see in the authenticated crime scene photos, but I would also say that it doesn’t match the obdserved lividity, making the distinction irrelevant. But I’m just a layperson with regard to lividity. If you want to send me the photo that led to the rendering, I’d be happy to pass it along to a medical expert for review, but I suspect that you’d like a “neutral” expert, so feel free to show it a medical expert to see whether they say that body position matches lividity.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 7, 2016 8:43:58 AM

“csom_1991: Susan’s clay model matches the authenticated crime scene photos that I passed along to medical experts, who concluded that the upper half of Hae’s body was diagonal to the ground, making it inconsistent with the observed lividity in the abdomen/chest. That matches what I see in the photos. Ostensibly, this new artistic rendering was done by someone who saw unauthenticated crime scene photos.”

This is actually making good progress. However, I feel as I need to ask very elemental questions as I feel you are ‘lawyering’ in your answers. So, have you seen any unauthenticated crime scene photos? Follow up – have you seen any unauthenticated crime scene photos that are not consistent with the Susan’s clay and differ in any way in terms of body position from the authenticated crime scene photos you refer to above? Sorry to ask such a longwinded questions but I am trying to determine if you are ‘lawyering’ in your answer, are not being completely honest, or simply have not seen any unauthenticated crime scene photos. Of course, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not outright lying – so, that is why we need to dispense with the ‘authenticated/unauthenticated’ distinction. I am assuming that you have seen the full 22 pictures of the burial/exhumation at this point as Justin has access to the photos as they were part of the MPIA. As you probably can ascertain at this point – I have seen the photos (authenticated and unauthenticated) and your response does not conform with what they show so I am trying to root cause the issue. Thank you again for your time and answer.

Posted by: csom_1991 | Sep 7, 2016 9:13:17 AM

csom_1991: I have seen the 8 authenticated crime scene photos obtained by MSNBC. I have not seen any additional crime scene photos. My understanding is that Justin’s version of the MPIA did not include crime scene photos, which is why it was a big deal on Seema’s program that MSNBC had obtained them.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 7, 2016 9:53:21 AM

“csom_1991: I have seen the 8 authenticated crime scene photos obtained by MSNBC. I have not seen any additional crime scene photos.”

Thank you for the clarification on this point. However, I find it very troubling that you, Susan, Rabia, and Justin have not spent the time/money to get the full set of photos. Is there a reason preventing you from filing the MPIA to attain the pictures? I mean – you know the photos exist and you have really spent an inordinate amount of time on the lividity argument – why would you not get the photos that could prove/disprove your statements? This is especially troubling when you have been told repeatedly by people that have seen the photos that your model and statements on body position are not accurate. Is it typical for a lawyer doing PCR representation, like Justin, to NOT get all of the available information from the police? To me (not a lawyer), that would seem to be a case of IAC.

Posted by: csom_1991 | Sep 7, 2016 10:11:48 AM

Colin, why would each MPIA come back with discrepancies when compared with other versions? I had imagined there was a single file contained within each department - e.g. A City police file, a County police file, a prosecutor's file, a medical examiner's file. So I could see how there would be discrepancies between these separate departments - but what I don't understand is how there are discrepancies within each departments' files. Why is all information not simply contained within a single file in each department (with certain items understandably withheld in line with statute)? Or is the City file, for instance, actually a collection of multiple different elements stashed in multiple different locations?

Posted by: Cupcake | Sep 7, 2016 10:41:15 AM

@ CSOM - I would imagine Justin does now have copies - but there's no reason to think he would share them with Colin, Susan and Rabia so as not to breach privilege, given they are not part of the defence team. Further, these additional photos only apparently came to light AFTER the first season of Undisclosed was complete - they are now focussing on a new season - so why waste resources? But I for one would be grateful if you would send your copies of the photos to Colin to pass on to an ME, as has been offered above. Thanks in anticipation.

Posted by: Cupcake | Sep 7, 2016 10:44:54 AM

csom_1991: Lividity wasn’t part of the current appeal, and the Nicolas case shows that it almost certainly couldn’t have been a winning argument on appeal? It would be unreasonable for defense counsel to spend time, money, and resources on something that wouldn’t become an issue unless there is a retrial. In the event there is going to be a retrial, I’m sure these extra photos would be obtained because lividity would very much be an issue.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 7, 2016 10:45:46 AM

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