Why I think Adnan Syed is Innocent and Why it Matters

In 2014 Sarah Koenig had a break out podcast called Serial. In it she told the story of a young man who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend. As the story went on the listener discovered that there were serious questions about the conviction. Particular things didn’t line up or make sense. 

Today the Maryland Court of Special Appeals turned away Adnan in favor of the State’s arguments and reinstated his conviction. Mind you, Adnan had won favorable rulings at two lowers courts before today.

Since listening to Serial I’ve continued to follow the case through the Undisclosed Podcast and the Truth and Justice podcast.  I’ve linked to them below.

There are some very compelling facts that have lead me to doubt the guilty conviction of Adnan Syed and there are some troubling procedural issues related to the justice system in this case. 

The Undisclosed Podcast does an excellent job of detailing the legal issues and the justice system process. While they dive into the facts of the case on a regular basis, they are primarily focused on problems with how justice was carried out. 

You should judge for yourself. I’ve provided links to these three podcasts below.

Podcast Links:

Link to Serial: Season One 

Undisclosed: Adnan Syed vs. State of MD

Truth and Justice Episodes about Adnan Syed

Why do I think he is innocent?

First of all, I think that the strongest pieces of evidence used at trial by the State to prove his guilt have been debunked. Those strong pieces of evidence were the testimony of Jay Wilds and the cell phone pings.

Regarding Jay Wilds… His testimony was always inconsistent. And it now appears that he was coached by detectives to give the testimony that he gave. You can listen to this evidence in the Undisclosed podcast. There is also a strong possibility that Jay had the incentive to lie to detectives and implicate Adnan. He had his own criminal record hanging over his head and pending convictions disappeared after he testified.

Regarding the cell phone tower evidence… The cell phone tower expert that the state originally used at trial has signed an affidavit and testified that he would not have give his testimony had he been shown the full document from AT&T. We now know that the data provided by the cell phone company was not reliable for location in the way that it was used in the trial.

Second, since Serial aired, an alibi witness has come forward to provide clear evidence that Adnan was not out killing Hae when the state claimed that he was. It was only because of a failure by Adnan’s attorney at the time that this alibi witness was not called at trial.

So why does this matter?

Justice matters! Society only works when we have an equitable justice system. And as a Christian, I fundamentally believe we are wired by God for justice. So when the justice system fails it effects our humanity and God’s design.

If you become convinced of Adnan’s innocence, as I have, you are left with the reality that the true killer of Hae Lea is still on the loose. And of course another man, Adnan, is loosing the prime of his life on the miscarriage of justice.

This story has significantly altered my view of law enforcement and the justice system. It has induced a healthy sense of skepticism and realism. I no longer trust the system. I’m grateful for the sacrifice that individuals make in both professions, but I operate from a position of distrust rather than trust.

As I work with my kids, I am compelled to teach them this distrust. We honor authorities, but we do not believe they have our best interest in mind by default.