Adnan Syed – Truly Innocent? Or a Good Liar?

 

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A seventeen year-old Adnan Syed

 

Adnan Syed is an infamous name that will be heard a lot, as I will be talking about how I think he is sincerely innocent, based off the podcast, “Serial“. He allegedly killed his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, back in 1999 and has been in jail ever since. Sarah Koenig, the executive producer of the podcast, found this case interesting and decided to take matter into her own hands. As a result, an interesting podcast was made, and a spark has been re-lit onto Adnan and his girlfriend’s eccentric case.

Starting off, let’s examine the letter(s) that were sent by Adnan’s friend, Asia:

 

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A letter that Asia wrote to Adnan

There is some vital information that the letter contains, like how Asia remembers physically seeing and talking to Adnan, on the day of Hae’s disappearance. Adnan’s actions throughout that day, led to Asia believing he was innocent. Another thing to notice from this letter, is the fact that she literally went to his house, just to talk about Adnan’s “calm” manners. In addition, the most important thing to take away from this letter, is the conclusion. She admits that they are not close friends, and one can tell that by how she says she’ll hunt Adnan down and “wip” his ass. The “ok friend” and smiley face combo fit the tone of her writing precisely, as she sounds like she is a distant friend (which she is). Another example of this, is at the very start, when she says “Dear Adnon, (hope I sp. it right)”. These are the little things that make it all sound more genuine.

Later on in the first episode however, it was revealed Asia called a prosecutor and said that she was forced to write the letters. There are many possible reasons as to why she may have said that, but I personally think that she said that just to get out of this whole situation. Since the case became more relevant and known to the public, she may have not liked the amount of attention she was getting, and decided that lying was the easiest option out. Plus she could have spoken out right away, shortly after being “forced” into writing those letters, and not many months after. As a whole, what she said was suspicious compared to what she wrote in the letter.

 

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Adnan Syed’s “friend”, Jay

Next, we have the shocking statements made by Jay about what happened on the tragic day, which he told to the authorities. Considering the fact that Jay and Adnan did many things together, it wouldn’t make sense that Jay threw him under the bus. Either Jay must be lying, so that the case would just end and he’d be over it, or – Adnan actually murdered Hae. Now Jay lying is the most probable reason here, as he changes his story a lot, thus making sense if he lied. Rabia Chaudry, the attorney of Adnan, said this regarding the constant fluctuations of Jay’s stories, “Wilds changed his story during the investigation and trial, and did so again most recently in an interview with the publication the Intercept. In that, he says the burial took place around midnight, negating any significance the cell records had in placing Adnan near the burial site around 7pm” (Chaudry). As one can see, there is something fishy about Jay, as he seems to be constantly changing up what he says. Also, the difference between midnight and 7pm is huge, which makes him all the more suspicious.

 

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The calling history of Adnan Syed’s cellphone

Moreover, another piece of evidence(s) that was found against Adnan, were some of his cellphone records. A cellphone tower was able to give the location, and time of two phone calls on Adnan’s cellphone that took place on the day of Hae Min Lee’s disappearance. Regardless, this information does not exactly correlate to the whole case, as Amelia McDonell-Parry, a journalist for the Rolling Stone, further explains:

 

In an interview with The Intercept last year, Kevin Urick, the prosecutor from Syed’s 2000 trial, said that on their own, neither the Wilds’ testimony nor the cellphone evidence would have been enough to prove Syed’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Remember, Wilds never claimed to have seen Syed kill Lee; he merely claimed to have helped Syed bury Lee’s body (McDonell-Parry).

This quotation alone, should be enough to conclude on the fact that Adnan is innocent, as the prosecutor himself states that there would have not been enough evidence.

Finally, the last “evidence” (I wouldn’t really call it evidence) that is held against Adnan, is how he does not remember what happened on the grievous day. Adnan was first questioned by authorities about what he did on that specific day, between 2:00pm – 3:00pm, 6 weeks after it had happened. I personally do not remember what I did 6 weeks ago, and I’m sure most people wouldn’t either. Saying that he is guilty just because he does not remember what happened should not be totally held against him, as even though it can be considered as “evidence” it’s simply not enough evidence.

Throughout the “Serial” podcast, I genuinely thought that he answered every question he was asked with honesty. To this day, Adnan Syed is considered innocent until a new trial is held, where his innocence can be proven to everyone.

Works Cited

Chaudry, Rabia. “Adnan Syed Is Innocent. Now Find Hae Min Lee’s Real Killer.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Serial.” Podcast. N.p., 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

McDonell-Parry, Amelia. “‘Serial’ Subject Adnan Syed: 4 Key Pieces of Evidence.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 01 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

McLean, Asia. “Innocence.” Letter to Adnan Syed. 1 Mar. 1999. MS. N.p.

 

 

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“Serial” – My Review & Thoughts

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Sarah Koenig on the phone

Serial is a podcast that is about a murder case, which is told by Sarah Koenig. In the first episode, we, the viewers, are introduced into what happened and the characters involved. Adnan Syed, was a seventeen year old Muslim kid that supposedly strangled his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Her body was found about a month later, and Adnan was immediately charged with first degree murder, with 30+ years in jail. Sarah decided to investigate this case for herself, and thus, made a whole podcast about it, called Serial.

I personally liked this podcast surprisingly, as this was one of the rare times I’ve even listened to podcasts in general. Although the first episode was 53 minutes, I think the fact that I like mysteries helped too. Sarah talks a lot (obviously, she’s the narrator & executive producer of the podcast) but her voice was not a burden to listen to, as it is quite soothing, rather than annoying. The choice of music that they put on the podcast is really good too, I more than often find myself either tapping my foot to the beat. Aside from the music, the other most important thing in the podcast, is the audio quality. I would have expected that when she calls a suspect/person that’s related to the case, that the voice would be of low quality, as their speaking through a phone and probably over a great amount of distance. Fortunately, they managed to get decent recordings of the phone calls, and I did not have to turn up my volume to understand what the person was saying. This enhanced my overall experience on the podcast, and I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys interesting and mysterious investigation(s).

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A picture of the alleged murder, Adnan Syed, when he was back in high school

The podcast has blown up ever since it’s release, however, we don’t hear much of Lee’s family and their opinion on how they feel about this situation as a whole. Now most people would not think much of the family, as they probably don’t care, but I on the other hand, think the complete opposite. Since we do not hear much from the family, this presumably makes me think that the family may not like the media attention, and are just flat out frustrated. Although they were notified about the podcast being made, as they had to get their permission, I don’t think they knew that it would be this big.

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Hae Min Lee’s family, brother (left) and mother (right)

The few statements we do hear from the family, however, are grief-full – as sadly expected. Wills Robinson, a journalist for dailymotion.com (his content gets posted on Dailymail, respectively), restated what the Lee family had to say, “We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her” (Robinson). I genuinely have sympathy for the family, as all they’re trying to do, is to move on from this unfortunate case. The statement is partially true though, as more people listen to “Serial”, more people choose sides, and it just happened to be that a lot of people are on Syed’s side. I think this clearly made the family angry, as Baynard Woods, a writer in Baltimore, grasped a statement that the family made, regarding the fans of the popular podcast, “Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials – so many witnesses, so much evidence” (Lee). As you can see, there is a difference from learning “this case on the internet” versus physically being at every trial, listening to the many witnesses and evidence – like the family has.

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The art cover by Radia Caudry’s book, Adnan’s Story

To add on to what the family had said about learning about the case through the internet, I wonder how’d they feel if the producers of “Serial” made a book about the case. Although there is already a book made by the prosecutors called, Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry, it’d still be intriguing to hear from the perspective of the victims side. My guess is that the family will be even more enraged, as they just want to move on. Either way, I think I’d rather listen to the podcasts, rather than reading for specific reasons. Firstly, I think Sarah has made her voice a staple for the series, as everyone is used to her already. Plus, when you listen to people talking, you can hear how their voice sounds and that may change your interpretation of certain characters. That benefit alone, has the possibility of increasing my understanding of the case, and that’s why I’d rather listen, than read.

This podcast was a joy to listen to, mainly because of Sarah and her style of presenting her investigative journalism to us. She is a big reason of why the podcast is so successful, and as a result, has earned many fans, including myself. Her delivery of the whole case in general, is superb and considering the content of episode one, I can accurately predict that the rest of episodes in season 1 are just as good, if not better. You may even happen to find me listening to the long-waited premiere of season 3 in the future.

Works Cited

Dailymail.com, Wills Robinson For. “Family of ‘Serial’ Victim Hae Min Lee Say Her Convicted Killer Adnan Syed ‘destroyed Our Family’ in Emotional Letter That Slams the Podcast’s Fans for Running to Defend Him.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 08 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Woods, Baynard. “Serial Case: Victim’s Family Offers Rare Statement before Hearing Resumes.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.