Sunday, March 10, 2019
Tonight was the premiere of the first episode of "The Case Against Adnan Syed" on HBO. For me, the biggest revelation was that Don made romantic advances on Debbie. In this post, I will break down the importance of this revelation.
First, let's orient ourselves. Don was Hae's co-worker at LensCrafters and the boyfriend of Hae Min Lee after she broke up with Adnan Syed. Debbie was one of Hae's best friends (the other being Aisha). It was also believed in the early days of the investigation into Hae's disappearance that Debbie was the last innocent person to see Hae alive.
On January 28th, Detective O'Shea interviewed Debbie, who told him that
Debbie said she saw Hae at approximately 1500 hours on 01/13/99. Hae was by herself and she was inside the school near the gym. Hae told Debbie that she was going to see Donald at the mall. Debbie did not see Hae leave the school.
Around this same time, Debbie was conducting her own investigation. As Debbie noted in her March 26th interview, she thought that Don was hiding Hae, so she concocted a scheme to uncover the truth:
Debbie and Don eventually had the phone call that Don wanted. As Debbie confirmed on the first episode of the HBO series, this Q&A was not a typo:
Debbie entered this seven hour conversation thinking that Don was hiding Hae. During the call, Don told her that Adnan was probably the guilty party and convinced her to change her opinion:
This information was obviously helpful to Adnan's trial attorney in presenting Don as an alternate suspect and calling into question Debbie's shifting story. But this new information casts everything into an entirely new light. If we believe Debbie, Hae's boyfriend was putting the moves on her -- one of Hae's best friends -- when Hae was missing and possibly dead...during a seven hour phone call that led her to change her opinion on Don's guilt. And, if we believe Debbie, this wasn't a one-off conversation; instead, Don pursued a relationship and they actually met in person before she told he that she wasn't romantically interested in him.
I'm not going to get into Don as an alternate suspect because that's a rabbit hole I simply haven't explored yet. But I do know that Debbie was an essential witness at trial. In the aforementioned March 26th interview, she said she saw Adnan outside the guidance counselor's office at 2:45pm on the day Hae disappeared:
At trial 1, she remembered making this statement:
Then, at trial 2, about a month later, she testified that she did not remember making this statement:
Debbie's memory of seeing Hae after school also changed between her January 28th statement and her March 26th statement. As noted, in her January 28th statement, Debbie said Hae was alone and said she was going to see Don. In her March 26th statement, Debbie and Hae were with their friend "Takera" after school:
If the defense knew that Debbie and Don had a close relationship, with Don even pursuing (or pretending to pursue) a romantic relationship, it puts Debbie's changing stories in a different light and opens up new avenues of investigation and interrogation.
Moreover, I wonder whether the State was aware of this information. We have the cover sheet for Debbie's March 2nd police interview, but no notes or transcript from that interview:
What did Debbie say during this interview? Did she mention Don's romantic interest in her? Hopefully, one day we find out. Also, hopefully one day (maybe on the HBO series), we find out the meaning of this undated police note, which could change everything we know once again: