EvidenceProf Blog

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

Episode Four of "The Case Against Adnan Syed": Jay's 3:00 Visit to Woodlawn High School

In last night's fourth (and final) episode of HBO's "The Case Against Adnan Syed," there was quite possibly a major revelation. The HBO team was able to talk with Jay Wilds in January 2019, and, among other things, he told them the following:

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 3.14.00 PM

This chyron is correct in a sense: Jay did not mention this event in his February 28th police interview, his March 15th police interview, his March 18th ride along, his testimony at trial #1, his testimony at trial #2, or his interview with the Intercept. That said, what Jay told the HBO team is the very first thing he told police. It's also apparently something that Adnan told to the defense team. And, if true, it has major ramifications for Adnan's case.

In the pre-interview, before the detectives turned on the tape recorder on February 28th, Jay said the following:

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 3.23.03 PM

Yes, that's right. Jay's very first version of events had him going to Woodlawn High School at 3:00pm on January 13th and meeting his girlfriend Stephanie in the back lot. Adnan referenced something similar in a statement he made to one of Cristina Gutierrez's clerks:

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 3.28.12 PM

I discussed this is a prior blog post, candidly admitting that there were versions of Jay's possible visit to Woodlawn that could be helpful or harmful for Adnan. Jay's comment to the HBO team (which we don't have verbatim due to two part consent law) makes Jay's possible visit to Woodlawn look helpful. Very helpful. Why?

It certainly appears that Jay is saying that he made the independent decision to return the car to Adnan at Woodlawn High School but then left when he couldn't find him. Ostensibly, Adnan later found out about Jay's visit to Woodlawn after the fact from Jay himself (or possibly even later from the notes of Jay's pre-interview).

So, why would this be major? First, it means that Jay's story about the afternoon is lie...and also explains that lie. When Jay spoke to police, the prevailing theory was that Hae was last seen alive by Debbie at Woodlawn High School at about 3:00pm. If Jay did in fact go to Woodlawn at about 3:00pm, he could be implicated in her murder. Therefore, he needed an alibi. And he had one. Jenn largely corroborated Jay's story that Jay was at her house until about 3:40pm whereupon he left after (not) getting the "come and get me" call.

If Jay instead went to Woodlawn on his accord at 3:00pm, then Jay is a liar and Jenn is either also a liar or horribly mistaken. In other words, Jay's story is out the window, and Jenn is, once again, removed as any type of meaningful corroboration for Jay. 

If Jay's story is true, it also means that the 2:36pm call could NOT have been the "come and get me" call. Indeed, Jay's story about his visit to Woodlawn refutes the idea of a "come and get me" call altogether because it makes it look like Jay had no idea what to do with Adnan's car as opposed to be there being a plan for Adnan to call him when he was ready to be picked up. In other words, the State's entire crime narrative is gone, along with things like "The Nisha Call."

Moreover, if Jay's pre-interview statement is true, Jay spoke with Stephanie at Woodlawn at 3:00pm. This means that she might have something meaningful to say about that afternoon beyond anything she said back in 1999.

I used to think that Jay visiting Woodlawn on the afternoon of January 13th was a long shot. But now, with Jay's story coming full circle, I kind of believe him on this point. But that also means I don't believe him on a lot of others.



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And further, if there ever was a motive for Jay to kill Hae, it would be to stop her from damaging his relationship with Stephanie.

By all accounts Stephanie was the most important thing to Jay. An accidental strangling would be inline with Jays known future violence toward women.

Posted by: John bocum | Apr 1, 2019 1:20:35 PM

This was a major revelation I thought. Also, makes more sense cell tower wise (LC651A-C) during those 3-4pm calls.

Posted by: Lori | Apr 1, 2019 1:33:42 PM

One question: Are the detectives notes indicating that Jeff dropped Jay off at Woodlawn?

Posted by: Lori | Apr 1, 2019 1:37:25 PM

And where is Stephanie in all this? Was she interviewed ? When did he give her the birthday gift?

Posted by: Laura Garcia | Apr 1, 2019 4:43:32 PM

Something the documentary did not touch on was the motorcycle that Jay was interested in buying at one point, around the time of the Crimestoppers tip coming in. You all discussed this in the first season of UD, but given everything that's come out, is this still relevant information that could point to another motive for Jay to point to Adnan?

Posted by: Andrew | Apr 1, 2019 5:34:36 PM

Perhaps Jay couldn’t find Adnan at Woodlawn because he was actually at the library like Asia has been saying for 20 years.

Posted by: Nick | Apr 1, 2019 6:49:54 PM

A couple of questions: 1) how does jurisdiction on two party consent laws work? Could the producers have gotten around this by calling Jay from a one party consent state, or would they have to be a resident of a one party state? Or would both parties have to be residents of one party consent states?

2) Did Adnan tell Jay that he had told Hae about Jay’s cheating on Stephanie (and that she was upset about it and was thinking of telling Stephanie)?

Posted by: Allyn | Apr 2, 2019 6:18:10 AM

Would have been nice if the filmmakers had taken this new statement by Jay and put it back in fron to Jen for a reaction. Most of the interviews were fluff.

Posted by: Tony Gutierrez | Apr 2, 2019 8:41:48 AM

Great thinking & analysis, Colin.

We need to determine a couple of things.

1. Did Hae ever confront Jay about any of this prior to Jay arriving in the back lot of Woodlawn at 3pm on the 13th of January? Or, are you assuming Hae confronted him then?

2. We know Hae had what seemed to be an urgnet page for her to meet someone after school. Was that page from Jay to possibly talk about this with Hae after Hae had confronted him a day or two earlier, perhpas?

3. This needs to be corroborated with Stephanie. Is there any way to get a hold of Stephanie and if so, would hse be cooperative or is she frightened?

4. Even if Jay didn’t murder Hae, his being at Woodlwan with Adnan’s car at 3pm still ruins the State’s case as you have adroitly proven and underscored.

5. This needs to be investigated & examined fully. Who is going to do that. The private investigators? Justin Brown? Somebody needs to get the ball rolling on this.

6. How does it fit with Adnan’s remaining legal options. I know the pathways to exoneration or even release have been narroed significantly. Is there a pathway for this angle?

Posted by: Michael Thomas Dudek | Apr 2, 2019 11:00:11 AM

Colin, has ANYONE ever interviewed Stephanie? In the documentary one of the friends said Stephanie said to stop talking about it. Or thinking about it. I wonder if she knows the truth. I can’t believe Jay never said anything to her. Why is she left out of Serial, trial, HBO documentary, police notes? Did I miss something?

Posted by: Kathy | Apr 3, 2019 7:34:59 AM

Allyn: I work for a company that has to build policy around 2 part consent laws, it doesn't matter what state you are in, if the other end of the call is in a 2 party consent state, then you cannot record. That's why you hear "calls recorded for quality purposes" when you call customer service. By staying on the line you give implied consent.

Posted by: Robert | Apr 3, 2019 10:33:29 AM

Robert: Thanks, but in my experience, businesses develop policies to protect themselves from legal exposure, often going beyond what the law requires in order to prevent potential (costly/embarrassing) lawsuits. I wanted to know what the law actually is in this case; I would have to believe that this situation comes up frequently.

Posted by: Allyn | Apr 4, 2019 8:50:33 AM

Laura: Stephanie, in police interview April 7, 1999, said Jay stopped by her house after her basketball game, between 10pm and 11, and gave her a hug – but didn’t mention a gift. This was January 13th, her birthday – the day Hae went missing. (Jay’s birthday was January 12th.) She says in same interview, Jay gave me my birthday gift, a little gold bracelet and a gold plated ring with pink stone in the center the following day, January 14th. Stephanie has refused all interviews with Serial, Undisclosed and HBO. On April 7th, during her police interview, she reports she is no longer dating Jay, after 6 or 7 years together.

Posted by: Cindy | Apr 5, 2019 10:26:59 AM

I have been diving into where people in this story might have lived/ been during the time of January 13, 1999. It seems like Stephanie lived close to Patapsco State Park. Which would seem to, possibly, reconcile why Jay says he is in Patapsco in the 4:30 pm hour and why Stephanie at first says she does not talk to Jay during the day of January 13, but after a visit from Phil and Jay during her interview with the PI, changes her story to say she called Adnan's cell phone sometime between 4:00 & 5:30 pm. Maybe Jay knows the phone has to be in that area.

Also, I find it interesting Stephanie says a few times that she was not good friends with Hae and possibly didn't even like her, until the memorial at the school where she says they are best friends.

If someone can tell me a different address for Stephanie I can move away from my spinning mind, but more and more Jay's very odd, out of place stories are forming a not so odd narrative for me.

Posted by: Jenny Moore | Apr 5, 2019 10:51:40 PM

Jenny I think you may be mixing up Jenn's comment that she wasn't sure she knew who Hae was and thought she didn't like her.

Posted by: Paul | Apr 10, 2019 8:04:47 PM

@Allyn --

The California Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that someone in a one-party state who calls someone in California (which is a two-party state) is subject to the laws of California, which require that all parties consent to being recorded. (Kearney v. Salomon Smith Barney, 117 Cal. App. 4th 446)

Posted by: plusca | Apr 11, 2019 7:24:21 PM

I think this was written a while ago. The document I’m thinking of might not have been publicly available at the time it was written. In another statement to a defense clerk on 3/12/99, Adnan clarifies that he and Jay met up for the exchange of the car in front of the gym. He states that the interaction was witnessed and that his car was making a weird noise. It’s one of the many things with Adnan where the action is benign or at least explainable, but the cover up is confusing for an innocent man.

Posted by: Laura Pultorak | Nov 24, 2022 6:14:17 PM

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