I just finished listening to Serial for the third time. I did because of intrigue as well as because I've also been listening to Undisclosed. While listening to the later, the former caused me to go back to the original source. This time, it took me two and a half days, although I listened to episodes 1-11 in about 23 hours.
I first caught Serial at about episode 1, 2, or 3, while running on the treadmill. I like listening to Podcasts while I run. As a subscriber to This American Life, I came across Serial, and was immediately hooked. Weekly radio programs, especially with a cliff hanger, are something I was brought up on. My family would listen to Adventures in Odyssey on car rides, and (especially as their seasons went on and they did series) they'd come out weekly with much suspense.
I have a very active mind, and it goes down all these rabbit holes and tangential outlets - which can get negative - so I thrust many avenues of thought at my brain at once, and it helps soothe me. There are a few things, though, that focus all of my attention, and something like Serial is one such thing. I like story. I like justice. I like helping people. I like listening. And I especially like it when those things have to be acutely focused on the exact present.
Serial hooked me for how the story was told, but also because I've been really thinking about systems and systematic process and how systems affect the individual. In the cases of both Adnan Syed and Hae Minn Lee, two individuals, the system didn't really help them. Nor did it help their families.
In a case where you have a crime and a solution and some type of punishment, it typically goes through and then the healing process can begin. A family can get over the tragic death of their daughter, a family can deal with the sentencing of their son. Humans are resilient. We can adapt. The initial blow will be a lot to take, but time heals it. We deal and adjust. We adapt to the new surroundings. But neither the Lees nor the Syeds have had the opportunity to heal. The Syeds have been appealing the decision of a jury for fifteen years, and consequently, the Lees cannot be at peace.
A major reason for this is that the justice system did not provide adequate answers. In a situation that involved (at the very least) two lives and their respective fates, The State used little evidence, shaky tactics, and speed. And the result is that a man sits in a jail cell for the rest his life, a girl died tragically, and their families live with the reality of the actions every day of their lives.
Throughout the course of the show, including all three listens, I go through many phases of thinking Adnan is guilty or innocent. I see both sides. However, I think that - as a simple matter of human life and equity - no person should ever be convicted of a murder with this little facts. The State had one witness who changed his story several times. They have nothing else. Which means, essentially, a man is convicted from the testimony of one lying individual.
Serial, which has a component of entertainment that cannot be overlooked, wove the narrative in a way that supports good story. This is great and need be mentioned. We hear very little from Adnan, none from Jay, and little of any length from anyone, so there could be much more to the story that a listener isn't privy to, but that's a side-point.
Things that don't align:
1. Adnan and Jay were together on the day The State says Hae Min Lee was killed.
2. Jay admits to being present at the burying of the body.
3. Jay has no punishment for this.
4. Adnan does not call Hae after she disappears.
5. The cell phone records put Jay and Adnan together during times of importance.
6. Jay's changing stories.
7. Mr. S.
Reasons I think Adnan is guilty:
1. Jay gains nothing from lying.
2. The State gains nothing from lying.
3. We don't hear him plead too much during Serial.
Reasons I think Adnan should not be convicted:
1. No evidence.
2. Key witness lied.
3. No physical proof.
4. Lack of motive.
5. Bad investigation.
6. Bad lawyer.
Though none of those things are very articulate or factual, I can't help but think how b.s. it is that someone would spend their life behind bars based upon that. Our freedom, a U.S. ideal, is much more important than that.
Another major problem as I see it is motivation; but the motivation is trifold. I don't see the motivation for Jay to lie and put someone in prison for life. I don't see the motivation for the Baltimore Police to put an innocent kid in jail. And, I don't see the motivation for Adnan to kill Hae.
None of it makes sense. Rather, it would make more sense to me if we found out that this was a Podcast version of War of the Worlds, where they're using technology and true crime to have the first interactive Social Media Era story. There's a part in serial where a woman from the jury tells Sarah that 'everyone knows someone like that' in reference to Jay. Specifically in reference to the fact that all Baltimore residents know someone that could get them out of a jam in a similar fashion like this. Sarah comments that she doesn't know someone like that, and neither do I. I know people that could fight it via the legal avenues, like lawyers and judges and such, but I don't know who to call if a body was found in my trunk. I don't know who would help bury it. Hell, I feel guilty enough when I stop and throw extra trash in a dumpster.
I am not sure where I ultimately land on Adnan's guilt or innocence. There's a large part of me that thinks he might just have done it. That he got mad, overreacted, did something impulsive, and is now in jail. But as I write this, if Jay's story is true at all, my earlier sentence seems so false. For Adnan to truly believe he's the 'baddest mother fucker' because he 'killed someone with his bare hands' and then run to first track practice and then church seems to contradict your own admission. And to be observing Ramadan, and kill someone while doing so, seems very contradictory. Then add to these contradictions Jay's newest admission on the intercept, it's like: what the hell? It completely goes against the timeline for anything. It makes no sense.
When I think that way, I think Adnan is not guilty of killing Hae. If there was any such conspiracy, it seems more likely that it would be Jay that did the killing and set the events up in such a way that he could blame it all on Adnan; something like he had a plan all along to get rid of the girl and did it when the time was right. Which would mean that Jay needs some motivation, which could be anything.
The finding of the body, the fact that there were other Asian females with the last name Lee that were killed in a similar fashion, that other students from this same school were murdered, it all doesn't make sense.
The thing that I've been turning over so often is what the cops have to gain from a conviction of Adnan. What do they gain locking up a kid for life? A quick conviction? A better solve rate? I mean, I know that there are many factors like that to consider, but there shouldn't be this many factors in one case. Had Jay simply given one story, provided the car, and the cell phones. Had there been one piece of physical evidence. Had there been even one piece of physical evidence.
In this case, there were none. In this lack of evidence, lack of closer, swarm of questions, there is a dead girl and a kid (no man) sitting in jail. No closure, no evidence. This is tragic. Regardless of the actual guilt or innocence in this specific case, I'm glad that modern media is looking at the justice system, looking at what works and doesn't, and I hope the death and trial of Hae Min Lee brings other such cases to the light, and justice to more.