Let’s talk about what is contained in the Motion to Vacate filed by Baltimore prosecutors.
Queen Elizabeth I’s funeral was yesterday. At almost the same time, a hearing was held in Baltimore regarding a Motion to Vacate the conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of viral 2014 podcast Serial. As an American and someone who has followed this case since the podcast came out, I was more interested in the hearing. Spoiler alert: Adnan is a free man for now at least. Adnan walked out of prison after spending 23 years behind bars for a murder he has denied since 1999. This is all very exciting and I’m happy that Adnan was released yesterday. Prosecutors have 30 days to refile charges if that’s what they choose to do. I will honestly be surprised if he is retried. The case has too much publicity and I’m sure prosecutors know the case is circumstantial at best.
But the real reason I’m writing this is to dissect the motion that was filed last Friday. It is extraordinary and explosive. There is so much included that internet sleuths have been screaming for years. But there is also some new information: two alternate suspects. Let’s get into it.
I’m going to assume most of you reading this know the facts of the case, but if not, or if you need a refresher, check out this article from The Baltimore Sun.
What is a Brady Violation?
- A Brady violation just means that the prosecution failed to disclose evidence to the defense that would work in their favor. This usually would result in a new trial.
Brady Violations-Two alternative suspects that were ruled out improperly.
It’s not really clear which suspect each of these items refer to, but if you’ve followed the case, you can make some educated guesses as to who they are and go from there. Because the motion did not name either of these suspects, I won’t either.
- One suspect had a motive to kill Hae Min Lee and had threatened her. Prosecutors don’t indicate how they have this information.
- One of the suspects had a family member who lived in the same block of Edgewood Avenue in Baltimore. Directly behind the location where Hae’s car was later found in fact.
- One of the suspects attacked a woman who was known to him unprovoked in her vehicle.
- One of the suspects had committed multiple rapes and sexual assaults of compromised people in a planned way. He was convicted for this offense.
- One of the suspects confined a woman by force and made death threats to this person.
- One of the suspects was improperly cleared based on polygraph test results.
Reliability of evidence at trial
- Phone records
- Phone records were crucial to the state’s timeline of events because they confirm some of but not all of Jay Wilds’ story about his and Adnan’s locations that day, which the State’s case depended on.
- According to the notice on the records, incoming calls are not reliable to determine location.
- An incoming call is what placed him at Leakin Park around the time Hae Min Lee was supposedly buried.
- Kristina Vinson’s Testimony
- Kristina Vinson was a friend of Jay Wilds’ who claimed that on the afternoon of the murder Jay and Adnan came to her house around 6 pm. She also says Adnan received a phone call and left. She stated she remembered this day because she had been at a conference.
- In the 2019 HBO documentary The Case Against Adnan Syed, she was shown her winter schedule from college that year which indicated she had a night class on January 13. This indicates that her testimony is unreliable.
- Jay Wilds’ Testimony
- Jay Wilds’ testimony cannot be relied upon alone because of the many lies and inconsistencies. His story was corroborated by cell phone records, which we now know are useless.
- Detective William Ritz
- Detective Ritz failed to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense in another case. This time, the convicted spent 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
What Happens Next?
Serial released a new episode this morning detailing the hearing and Adnan’s release. Prosecutors have 30 days to decide if they will retry Adnan. In the meantime, Adnan is back with his family today.