Better than TV: my obsession with the Serial podcast and the case against Adnan Syed

One thing that I have learned as a result of launching this website is that aside from a recent reference link snafu that got me a ton of hits from Brazil, I am pretty much just talking to myself here most of the time. In that dancing-with-myself kind of spirit, I am going to post my thoughts on some podcasts I recently listened to. Besides sharing with the world how I get my nerd on, you will come to see that I probably have way too much time on my hands. Now, I know I am coming into this particular podcast party way late in the game, but since this story continues to develop and there is still a large divide of opinion among the internet world, I think it’s all still relevant.

For those who many not know, Serial season 1 featured a thrilling look at the convoluted conviction of Baltimore resident Adnan Syed in the 1999 murder of 17-year-old ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Show producer and host Sarah Koenig takes you on a journey that unfolds so slowly and skilled, you will feel like you are in the grasp of a fine Fincher film. Everything you thought you would think turns around on itself and you’ll find your inner dialogue splitting into halves and arguing over what to believe. If you have not yet listened to Serial – STOP – and download it now on iTunes for free. My particular theory will be best digested by those who are familiar with the case. I’d hate to use the word spoiler, because this is a real life murder of a real person and I don’t want to cheapen the loss of life, but for a lack of a better word I don’t want to spoil your Serial experience.

Beyond listening to the full Serial series, I also took in most of the Undisclosed podcast, which I would not recommend because besides being painfully biased and funded by the Free Adnan Trust, it’s defense lawyer perspective narration frequently turns into sloppy ramblings that are hard to follow and often contradicts it’s own points without being able to see the irony. Undisclosed does uncover a few really interesting and important facts that were discovered after the conclusion of Serial, but overall these didn’t really sway my opinion and working theory – as a matter of fact, I think they helped solidify it. So, if you can stomach a drawn-out everyone is out to get us type conspiracy theory drivel, then by all means, check Undisclosed out.

One last super important thing that I will reference is the only interview that Jay Wilds, the star witness and conviction linchpin, did since the trial ended and the Serial obsession began. This three part interview can be found on The Intercept’s website.

*Here we go*

I fully believe that the states timeline of the murder can be easily disproven, but despite this Adnan is 100% guilty. I must say that I was a little bit disappointed in the final episode because Koenig took the easy way out by not giving a more definitive conclusion than – I think he is wrongfully convicted but, I can’t say he is innocent.

Just say the guy is  G U I L T Y.

I was really on the fence about what I thought until the episode where Koenig went to visit Jay and there was something about the way she described her interaction with him and the types of things he said. Jay was surprised at the visit – not something I would think would be typical of a person who had completely fabricated a story about seeing his friend bury a body – I tend to think if that were the case you’d spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop because you’d know there’s someone behind bars with nothing but time on their hands. Secondly, Jay made a comment about Adnan still not being able to admit committing the murder to himself.  All of a sudden, things began to click in my head and I realized Adnan likely suffers from some sort of Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissism, which would explain why people close to him were in disbelief that such a good, upbeat and popular guy could commit such an act. This would also explain why a theoretically guilty Adnan would think he was smarter than the cops, Jay would just do whatever he told him to do, and possibly be the motive for killing Hae (ie. you think someone lame like you can break up with someone awesome like me? I’ll show you how little you are).

The again, I doubt we will ever know the full motive for exactly why Adnan killed Hae. One motive I think we can put together that kept coming up and creating doubt was why Jay would lie so much. I think there are a myriad of valid reasons, many of which Jay points out in the Intercept interview (which I totally buy as the closest a real recount we will ever get to know). But here are my 4 top assessments:

  1. He was afraid of being pinned for the murder – I have to think that the first reaction when being taken in by the police for questioning of a murder is to make sure you don’t say anything that can get you in trouble or make you a suspect. I think for some people it’s like a physical defense mechanism to lie and misdirect to try to save themselves and much of the conflicting information provided by Jenn and Jay in the initial recordings could be explained by this.
  2. He will say anything to make sure the crazy guy he knows KILLS people is taken behind bars as fast as possible – I don’t doubt for one second that there was fear every time Jay saw Adnan after January 13th. However, we know that Jay is a drug dealer and his image comes off as more gangster-like than it actually is. I imagine this was a serious crux in his life where we was leaning between two worlds, one where he is all in and murder becomes apart of his life and the other where his own morality takes over and he knows he will lose his lifestyle, the drugs, money, etc. If you topple into the latter and spill it all, you may be worried about sharing the streets with someone who could kill you. This in no way excuses the lazy policework done in Baltimore and I do believe there was a lot of coaching thrown at Jay, I am just saying that this explains WHY he would be willing to mold his story to match any other evidence.
  3. He wanted to protect his family / didn’t want to go down for selling drugs during the 90’s war on drugs era / he was afraid of drug partner retaliation for being a snitch – refer to the Intercept interview.
  4. He was a total POTHEAD – I haven’t really seen anyone talking about the fact we know in ’99 Jay is the kind of guy who smokes multiple blunts per day and seems to always be high. If you’ve ever known a person who chronically uses copious amounts of marijuana, then you know their memory can be completely useless at times.

Ok, so now we can all stop saying “well why is he lying!”

One of the more useful things that Undisclosed brought up is that there was no wrestling match the day Hae was killed. We have the last two people who saw Hae both explaining that she was going to be back at school later for a wrestling match,  I think the best way to explain this is by using something Undisclosed tries to lean on heavily to help prove Adnan’s innocence – memory is bad. I think both people are mistaken about the which day they are recalling – there was no french fry stop, there was no chat about scoring a match on January 13th – and if that’s the case, it actually makes it easier to point a finger in Adnan’s direction because the lady running the concession stand can no longer claim there was nobody else in Hae’s car after school. This also widens the gap of time between 2:15pm when school let out and 3:15pm when Hae was a no show picking up her cousin. Maybe it’s that incoming call at 3:15pm that is the Adnan come pick me up from Best Buy and not at 2:36pm. Maybe Asia was totally mistaken about what day she saw Adnan after school.

If we take Jay’s Intercept interview as truth and we know it’s after midnight when Jay sees Hae’s body at the trunk pop, then that would explain why the blood settled before burial and why Jay was so dodgy about what kind of tools they used and where they came from (his grandmother’s house). Also, let’s throw out the cell phone records and tower data just like the defense wants and even then it seems to make a stronger case against Adnan.

I don’t claim to know exactly how it all went down and I haven’t taken the time myself to review every single piece of evidence (because, I sometimes have a life), but I am pretty confident in my personal thoughts on this. I think it’s a downright shame that the Baltimore Police Department didn’t put enough effort into this case. Being a believer in Adnan’s guilt, I wish they would have done something more so there would be no room for debate. I can’t help but feel bad for those who have put forth a tremendous amount of effort and money trying to free a murderer.

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One thought on “Better than TV: my obsession with the Serial podcast and the case against Adnan Syed

  1. Pingback: Why I didn’t love Making a Murderer as much as you | Tales From My 30's

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