EvidenceProf Blog

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Case Against Adnan Syed: the French Teacher

On Sunday's Episode One of "The Case Against Adnan Syed," Amy Berg interviewed Hope Schab, the French teacher at Woodlawn High School.


Hope Schab

In the episode, Schab partially confirms what she said at trial: that she was in effect deputized by Detective O'Shea and (1) tried to get other teachers to cooperate with the investigation; and (2) created a list of questions that she gave to Debbie so that she could distribute them to other students:

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An excerpt from Schab's testimony at trial #2.

But Schab's appearance also raised an important question.

At Adnan's first trial, Schab gave the following testimony:

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What makes this odd is that Schab has a very different recollection in the HBO episode. In the episode, Schab says that Adnan borrowed Debbie's planner and discovered the questions to students, which is what prompted him to confront her. So, which memory is correct?

I don't know, but I do find Hope Schab's trial testimony interesting. Why? Well, Detective O'Shea did interview Gerald Russell on February 1st, and...Russell had little of value to tell him:

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In fact, Russell was the only track coach interviewed before Adnan was arrested. The defense private investigator and the State wouldn't interview Head Coach Michael Sye until March, after Adnan had been arrested on February 28th.

O'Shea's interview of Russell makes clear that Russell had little to offer to help him, and Schab's trial testimony makes it look like Adnan was actually angered by Schab talking to Coach Russell. This then takes us to Jay's ride along with detectives on March 18th, when he allegedly the following comment:

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But how does this make any sense? This can't be referring to Coach Sye, who wasn't interviewed by anyone before Adnan was arrested. And, of it's referring to Coach Russell, well...his police statement didn't help Adnan, and Adnan possibly even became pissed off about Schab getting him to talk to the police.




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The "lost page" of notes from Inez's police interview references her having a previous interview on 3/18. I've wondered if perhaps Inez isn't the only one at Woodlawn who was spoken to that day.

Posted by: Susan Simpson | Mar 12, 2019 3:59:23 PM

Hi Susan, what "lost" page do you mean? Could you share a copy please.

Posted by: Undisclosed Wiki | Mar 12, 2019 5:52:01 PM

Or... maybe the coaches talked to each other and also brought it up to Syed.

Posted by: Jimbo | Mar 12, 2019 7:27:42 PM

Jimbo: That wouldn't really match with what Jay told the police.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Mar 13, 2019 5:51:13 AM

Colin, perhaps I am being dense, but I fail to see the conspiracy here. Adnan spoke with Sye on the 13th, and this wouldn’t change whenever Sye was interviewed. That he spoke with Sye on the 13th is also independent of whenever Jay made this statement. What am I missing?

Posted by: Sean | Mar 13, 2019 7:26:43 AM

Sean: Jay claims that Adnan told him before he was arrested that he was glad he talked to the track coach on January 13th because the police had talked to the coach. Neither the police nor the defense PI spoke to Coach Sye until after Adnan was arrested, and Coach Russell’s police statement and Adnan’s alleged anger about Schab getting Russell to talk make it unlikely that Adnan would have made this statement to Jay before he was arrested. This looks like something fabricated to explain why Coach Sye remembered Adnan being at practice on January 13th.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Mar 13, 2019 7:40:47 AM

I thought is was pretty funny and telling that Schab was still trying to cast a negative on Adnan recounting how he tensed up when she hugged him after Hae's body had been found despite this happening shortly after Adnan had found out she was working for the police trying to pry into his life. I would have been pretty tense around her, too.

Posted by: Nick | Mar 13, 2019 10:15:05 AM

I don't think Schab wants to be the "bad guy". She came off this way in Serial and Undisclosed. I got the feeling she was trying to make herself look better.

Posted by: Ginger | Mar 13, 2019 5:49:32 PM

Why would her talking to coach Russell have prompted Adnan to confront her? It makes sense why with the Debbie planner thing, but where was she going with This at trial had Gutierrez not objected? What was she objecting to?

Posted by: Paul | Mar 15, 2019 2:21:39 PM

Paul, I think Gutierrez objected to stop Schab from *speculating* about Adnan’s actions (in this case, finding out that she talked to the track coach) rather than testifying only about things she directly observed or heard. I don’t think Schab was going anywhere with that; it was merely her conjecture as to why Adnan came to her to ask her to stop asking questions about him.

Posted by: Allyn | Mar 15, 2019 9:25:36 PM

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