The Case Against Adnan Syed

The Case Against Adnan Syed

Siri Kunuthur, Junior Reporter

The podcast “Serial” by Sarah Koenig, which aired on December 10, 2015, brought a controversial case to light. The murder of Hae Min Lee had many people thinking twice about the identity of the killer; now, with new evidence that can prove his innocence, the case belongs under the microscope again. 

In Baltimore County, Maryland, the strangled body of high school senior, Hae Min Lee was found in a park. She was killed on the day she was reported missing. Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend, was arrested and charged with her murder. Although in jail, he has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. The main evidence used by the prosecution was eyewitness accounts from someone who claimed they helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. Many believe Adnan is innocent for multiple reasons: evidence used in his second trial has since been contradicted, a potential witness can prove his innocence, and there are more persons of interest who can be investigated.

The prosecutor’s main argument included his cell phone pings, which supposedly highlighted Adnan’s location through the day of the murder. Although cell phone tower pings are used frequently, when Adnan’s second trial took place, this technology was novel to experts. According to “Serial”, AT&T records state Syed’s phone “pinged” a cellphone tower covering the park and nearby areas during calls he received at 7:09 pm and 7:16 pm on January 13, 1999. The cell phone tower expert, who provided the original testimony, has recently signed an affidavit showing he would not have testified had he been shown the full AT&T document, which proved the data provided by the cell phone company was not reliable. The records faxed to the Baltimore police by AT&T contained a warning: “Outgoing calls only are reliable for location status” and “any incoming calls will not be considered reliable information for the location.” 

Secondly, there is a crucial witness, Asia McClain, who can prove Adnan’s innocence. Since “Serial” aired, an alibi witness has come forward to provide clear evidence Adnan didn’t kill Hae in the time frame provided. The reason she was not called to trial, according to “Serial”, was because of a failure by Adnan’s lawyer, Maria Cristina Gutierrez. McClain wrote a letter to Adnan saying she saw him leaving the library at around 3:30 pm. Jay’s third testimony states Adnan had Hae’s corpse in his trunk at 3:55 pm. This would give Adnan approximately 25 minutes to drive to Hae’s location, strangle her, and drive to the Best Buy parking lot. The testimony has since been debunked by a trial conducted by Sarah Koenig and her associate. Although Asia McClain originally came forward to provide an alibi for Adnan, she later signed an affidavit saying she didn’t see him, and then she changed her mind again, reverting to her original statement, claiming she did in fact see him. 

After “Serial” gained attention, prosecutors tested DNA relating to Hae’s case. All of the DNA found at the crime scene –  fingernail clippings, blood samples, a liquor bottle – did not match Adnan, further proving he is not connected to the scene of the crime.