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Serial update: What Susan Said

Ok, one more post on Serial. Hey, it’s Sunday.

If you are addicted to Serial, you really should be reading Susan Simpson’s blog at The View from LL2. Susan is a DC criminal lawyer. In her spare time, she’s been combing through the trial transcripts, police interviews, and FOIA requests to try to piece together what might have actually happened to Hae Min Lee. Is it likely that Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend, actually killed her? So far, and based on what she’s been reading, Susan is leaning heavily in the “Adnan didn’t do it” direction.

Her latest post is about Hae’s new boyfriend, Don, and his unbelievably sketchy “air-tight” alibi. Don’s story is that he couldn’t have killed Hae because he was working all day. He worked for Lenscrafters at the Owings Mills Mall where Hae worked but on the day Hae disappeared, he filled in a shift at the Hunt Valley Lenscrafters. But what Susan has found out is that the Hunt Valley Lenscrafter location didn’t need Don that day, the timecard showing Don was there was produced several days after the franchises produced his other timecards, the employee number on the Hunt Valley time card is different than his Owings Mills employee number, it was newer, and Don’s mother is the general manager of both stores. There are some performance reviews that show that Don was a problem employee. He seems to have been immature, hot-headed and had a history of fudging his time. Still, Susan explicitly says she doesn’t think Don was involved in the murder. She just thinks that with all this stuff from the store, the cops dismissed him too soon as a suspect while zooming in on Adnan with laser like intensity.

But the thing that got my attention is something Susan wrote in her comments section. This is about the timeline of the murder and the fact that Adnan has an alibi for most of his day but the cops keep coming back to him. Here’s what Susan said:

The state’s timeline wasn’t designed to reflect the truth, it was designed to prevent Adnan from being able to raise a defense. By having a timeline that could shift a million different ways, any alibi evidence can be rendered meaningless by simply shifting the times to something more convenient for the prosecution.

This is what is currently going on in the heads of the Adnan Guilty crowd over at Reddit. So, Asia has the 2:15-2:40pm time period covered and the track coach is pretty convincing when he says he saw Adnan at 3:30pm, even though he didn’t take attendance. (The track coach says he spoke to Adnan about Ramadan) But there’s that 50 minute window between the library and track. Fifty minutes! He could have intercepted Hae in the parking lot, driven her car somewhere secluded, strangled her, walked to a pay phone, popped the trunk for “neighbor boy”, no, wait, popped the trunk for Jay in the Best Buy parking lot, no, that’s not right either, popped the trunk for Jay at Jay’s Grandmother’s house, then rushed back to the school for track at 3:30pm.

Right.

What Susan is saying is twofold: 1.) Forget the timeline. The state is going to move that around to suit its needs. It wants Adnan to be the guilty party, therefore, if the only free period of time is when Adnan goes to the bathroom to take a pee, the state will find a way for him to murder Hae between unzipping his fly and tapping off. The state is convinced that Adnan did it so it will find a time. 2,) The state doesn’t actually have a theory of the crime. This is the more important thing, IMHO. If it can shift the timeline around in order to convict Adnan, that means it doesn’t know when the crime was committed. And because it doesn’t know when the crime was committed, it doesn’t know where, or by what means (manual strangulation, but how did she get the blunt force trauma to her head?), or when the car was moved or when the body was buried. That’s because the state has no physical evidence tying anyone to the crime or forensic evidence that pins down when the crime happened.

The state is making stuff up in plain sight and so far, no one seems to be getting this point. The state hasn’t got a case. It doesn’t have a theory, except Adnan did it. That’s all it’s got. It stopped investigating after it settled on Adnan. It didn’t follow up on Don’s time card, it didn’t ask the forensics experts about how long Hae might have been dead before she was buried, it didn’t check out other murders of young women in the area, it didn’t try to figure out how Hae was strangled in her car or even if the murder took place in the car at all, it didn’t check up on the wrestling match schedule (it turns out there wasn’t a wrestling match the day she went missing) or whether she had something else she wanted to do (she did). All of these other unknown unknowns? Not important to the state. It still has no idea what happened to Hae, who was there, how it was done, when it was done or for what purpose. All they’ve got is this ex-boyfriend. That’s it.

Ineffective assistance of council is only the tip of the iceberg here. Adan’s lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez should have pointed this out: The state still doesn’t have a clue and it keeps shifting the timeline around because it didn’t do its job. How can you even have a suspect if you don’t know where, when and how the crime even happened? This farce of a case was made up out of increasingly thin air and the state and the justice system threw a person behind bars on less than nothing.

16 Responses

  1. Wait, wait, WAIT, there wasn’t a wrestling match that day? So, was her only schedule to pick up cousin and take him home?

    • Nope. No wrestling match. Susan says the match was the week before. The day of the match, she met Don at the Owings Mills mall and she bought stuff. It’s in her credit card history. So, summer has the week wrong. Susan also checked the local papers for match results. No match between Woodlawn and Randallstown for 1/13/99.
      The note in her car to Don also dates to the week before. She had part one of her interview about being a sports scholar that day. Then she met him at the mall. Then she was going to leave that note on his car but didn’t. So, it’s a bit of a red herring.
      Now, what she was planning to do the day she died is a different question. She is described as being dressed up, short black skirt and heels. She tells one of her friends that something came up that she’s going to do that afternoon but gives no details. She tells Adnan in front of friends that she can’t give him a ride.
      Then she disappears.
      The working hypothesis is that she stopped somewhere between the school and her cousin’s daycare to score some weed. But no one knows for sure.

      • Sheech! It would have been nice if one side at least had put a decent timeline together. This is a total mess. And I hope that aspect is admissible to the process.

  2. I don’t remember reading that she was dressed up either

    • Her friends told police what she was wearing. She was not dressed casually. It could have been for her interview part deux. Or she might have planned to meet Don later.
      Short skirt, CFM shoes. Yep. Dressed to kill.

  3. Please, post this nonsense if you have to, but- please know Susan Simpson is NOT a “criminal” attorney. She has never (NEVER) tried a criminal case.

    In her most recent Reddit AMA, she advised that in her entire legal career- she’s tried (either alone or with co-counsel) a total of FOUR (civil) cases.

    That is the actual record of her esteemed “criminal” trial experience. Zero criminal trials.

    • OoOoOoo! She struck a nerve, didn’t she? Suddenly, it’s all about Susan. If we discredit her, maybe we can distract everyone from the spotlight she’s shining on the investigation.
      You know, if Susan hadn’t gotten there first, someone else would have gotten there eventually. In fact, the flaw at the core of this case was floating on my periphery for sometime now. All she did was summarize it with that one paragraph. She didn’t even have to deep Dyve into the documents. I’m glad she did because I love all the juicy detail. But it was clear during the podcast that something was seriously wrong with this case and she merely clarified it with her comment. If she did nothing else, that there would have been sufficient.
      She’s young, she’s incredibly sharp and she’s got a lot of attention right now.
      Too bad for the BPD.

    • Let me explain this as simple as I can. You just need to mark the following statements true or false.

      1. Since “Susan Simpson is NOT a “criminal” attorney”, Don’s employee Ids on two stores were in fact identical – no discrepancy there.

      2. Since SS “has never (NEVER) tried a criminal case”, there is irrefutable evidence that there was a match between Woodlawn and Randallstown for 1/13/99..

      3. SS “tried (either alone or with co-counsel) a total of FOUR (civil) cases.” That means Don’s mother was not the GM of Hunts Valley Lens Crafters.

      I have many more.. but let us know how many of the 3, you think are true statements.

  4. @Jim Gordon, what difference does any of that make to Susan’s analysis of available evidence? You don’t need to be a lawyer to have a brilliant mind, let alone a criminal attorney.

  5. One of the weird things about the way Adnan described January 13, 1999 is that even after 16 years, he hasn’t been able to craft a story that makes sense. After hearing the testimony and having access to the records, he continues to lie about asking Hae for a ride. His story about how Jay ended up with his car and cell phone is absurd. But when you actually break down Adnan’s version of the day Hae was killed, it becomes incredibly clear what is really going on here. Adnan is not telling you about what happened that day. He’s telling you about the kind of person he wants his family to think he is.
    -Witnesses say he asked Hae for a ride that morning, while his car was sitting in the parking lot. Adnan claims this is not true, because he wouldn’t have interfered with Hae picking up her cousin. She took that very seriously, you see. Considerate.
    -In second period, he made Stephanie so happy with his gift that he just had to find out if her boyfriend had gotten her a gift as well. Thoughtful.
    -Adnan looked at his new cell phone and decided no, such an important matter can only be dealt with in person. Jay lived within walking distance of a mall, but Adnan hated walking and assumed Jay probably did as well. He offered Jay the use of his car. Generous.
    -He was late to psychology class, not because he had been hanging out with Jay and smoking pot, but because he was picking up a college recommendation from the guidance counselor. Motivated.
    -He apparently hung out in the library for around an hour. Studious.
    -While there, he had a 10-20 conversation with someone he didn’t know very well about how he still cared for Hae and wished her the best. Magnanimous.
    -Next he went straight to track, where he chatted up the coach about Ramadan and discussed leading prayers at the mosque. Devout.
    -He goes with Jay to Cathy’s. He’s kinda high (it was his FIRST BLUNT), so he probably just forgot to mention this to his lawyer. One thing he can’t forget though is the call from Adcock. He was worried Hae would get in a lot of trouble with her mom. Empathetic.
    -He takes his dad some food at the mosque. Model son.
    -He prays at the mosque for two hours. Pious.
    Like I said, most of this defies credulity. But that’s not the point. Adnan was never trying to construct a narrative that “made sense,” or “fit the facts.” He was trying to construct a narrative that restored his Golden Boy status. That’s why he freaks out when Koenig asks him about stealing from the mosque. That information could do real damage to his reputation.
    Adnan’s story was for his parents and his community. It was not for people who knew that a “blunt” wasn’t equivalent in strength to an overdose of PCP. It was not for people who would say “Why didn’t you just CALL Jay and ask about the gift?” He never anticipated redditors examining his every word for inconsistencies. The point of his story was to prove to his loved ones that he was considerate, thoughtful, generous, motivated, studious, magnanimous, devout, empathetic, a model son, and pious.
    The point was not to prove he was innocent.

    • It’s not adnan’s job to prove he is innocent in the absence of any concrete evidence that he actually, you know, committed murder.
      It is the state’s responsibility to prove he is guilty by presenting the evidence to show he did it.
      It’s too bad that the jury didn’t get it that the state didn’t have a case. Nevertheless, just because people keep asking him to come up with satisfying answers to your burning questions doesn’t mean you’re going to get those answers. That’s because there were thousands of people in Baltimore who wouldn’t be able to account for their whereabouts that day and they had no reason to suspect they would soon be tried tor murder.
      I honestly don’t care how much he smoked or what he told his parents or whether he asked for a ride. None of those things make him a murderer.
      What makes him a murderer is evidence that puts him at the scene of the crime when it happened and in that case, the state ain’t got nuthin’.
      Everything else is just junk data.

    • Wow- maybe he is all those wonderful things you say he trying to prove, because keeping up the “act” for 16 years in prison is quite a feat.

    • Let’s walk through your list one by one:

      1. “Witnesses say he asked Hae for a ride that morning” Actually, it was one witness, and that very same witness said that he did not end up getting a ride from Hae. So, according to the very same witness you’re relying on to establish that Adnan asked for a ride, the ride never happened. Thus, no opportunity to commit the murder.

      2. “he just had to find out if her boyfriend had gotten her a gift as well” Confirmed by multiple witnesses. So, rather than being an image Adnan is trying to portray, it’s actually an accurate and confirmed fact.

      3.”He offered Jay the use of his car.” Confirmed by witnesses and phone records. Witnesses confirmed that Adnan frequently loaned people his car and his cellphone. That may have been bad judgment on his part, but it was neither unusual nor fishy.

      4.”He was late to psychology class” No evidence that Adnan claimed he was picking up recommendation letter at this time– CG seems to have confused the date 1/13 with the time 1:13. There is some witness evidence that Adnan picked up the recommendation letter closer to 3 o’clock, and lots of evidence that Adnan was tardy quite often.

      5. “He apparently hung out in the library for around an hour” Confirmed by witnesses. So far, you’ve managed to show that Adnan’s account of the day, though vague at times, is accurate and confirmed. It’s a shame you can’t say the same thing about Jay’s multiple and contradictory stories.

      6. “he had a 10-20 conversation” Again, confirmed by witnesses.

      7. “he went straight to track, where he chatted up the coach about Ramadan” Confirmed by the coach.

      8. “He goes with Jay to Cathy’s” Confirmed by witnesses and phone records.

      9. “He takes his dad some food at the mosque” Confirmed by witnesses and cell records.

      10. “He prays at the mosque for two hours.” Confirmed by witnesses and cell records. During the time he claims to be praying at the mosque, there are no calls to or from people he knows, only people Jay knows. Once the 2 hours are over, the cell records show him calling a bunch of people he knows. Funny that.

      So, the story that you claim doesn’t make sense makes perfect sense, is supported by witness statements, and by the cell phone records. Now, in the interest of fairness, let’s subject Jay’s stories to the same treatment.

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