Sunday, March 17, 2019
On tonight's second episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," we saw the reappearance of someone who first appeared on Episode 8 of the Serial Podcast: Chris Baskerville. Chris is known for two things from that Serial appearance: First, he told the story about Jay trying to stab him:
I gave him a knife and then he tried to stab me with it, so we were literally like fighting outside of my cousin’s house and he’s like “yo, I’m not gonna stab you deep but you never been stabbed before, you need to know what it’s like,” and I’m like “yo, I’m not gonna let you stab me.”
Second, he told a very different version of the murder and trunk pop than anyone else.
On the HBO episode, Chris largely relays the same story that he told on Serial:
Sarah: Chris says Jay told him he was at a pool hall out on Route 40 and Catonsville when he got a call from Adnan. The pool hall was either VIP or Bluejays....
Chris: He was shooting pool, Adnan called him he was like “yo, I gotta talk to you,” and he was like “yo I’m busy.” “Yo, where are you” and he told him where he was. Adnan showed up and he’s like “oh I gotta talk to you”....
Sarah: In this version the trunk pop happens at the pool hall.....He said, Jay told him that Adnan confronted Hae about flirting with another guy, a car salesman and when she called Adnan crazy, he snapped and strangled her. And Chris said he heard this happened in the parking lot of the Woodlawn Public Library.
Importantly, in his first recorded interview, Jay says he only told two people about the murder: Jennifer Pusateri and Chris Baskerville:
On both Serial and (I think) the HBO episode, Chris says that he was never contacted by the police. Why? There seem to be two clear option. First, the police thought that Jay was so unreliable that contacting Chris could have further undermined his story. After all, Jay said in this same interview that the trunk pop occurred at a strip off of Edmondson Avenue after Jenn had previously said that Jay told her that the murder and trunk pop occurred in the Best Buy parking lot. You can imagine the police (correctly) guessing that Chris would have told them a third version of events and deciding against contacting him.
Second, you can also imagine Jay admitting to the police (when the tape wasn't rolling) that he had told Chris an entirely different version of events. If that were true, this of course would be a Brady violation because an entirely different version of the murder and trunk pop would have seriously undermined Jay's already questionable credibility.
Beyond the State, you can clearly see why the defense would have been interested in interviewing Chris...but, as with many promising leads in this case, he was never pursued.
There's the lingering question of what exactly is going on here. Why in the world is Jay telling so many different stories about the murder and trunk pop, with Jay changing his story yet again in his Intercept interview? I'd also love to know when Jay told Chris about the murder. My guess has always been that it was around the time of the CrimeStoppers tip, which could have huge implications if Jay was the tipster and told a similar story.
But this is information we might never know...just like we might never know what prompted Chris to say this about Jay on tonight's episode:
If Jay gets pulled over and you’re in a car with him, and he’s dirty or he feels like there’s a chance he’s going to go to jail, he’s going to try to dump every responsibility for anything onto you. He’ll trade places with you in a heartbeat, which is why people don’t talk to Jay any more.