Adnan Syed – Innocent until proven Guilty

Through cases being reopened and discussed publicly, accusations and defense are what murder stories naturally bring along. I mean, that’s what publicity of them generates – opinions. Specifically, in Sarah Koenig’s podcast, Serial, which is regarding the Adnan Syed Murder case. It can arguably be one of the most complex cases due to the lack of foundation and evidence (“Adnan Syed”).

The center of discussions these days has been the guilt or innocence of Adnan Syed.

      ~Click to watch a summary of the case~

Before I delve in to give my opinion on this case, I want to focus this blog on one of the most sacred principles in the criminal justice system, “holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged” (“Presumption of innocence”).

Simply going off of this key principle, I am firm on my decision that Adnan Syed is innocent.

There are many reasons as to why I am with Adnan on this case and I have no other option but to stand with what my heart, brain and sacred principle says.

So, here it goes…

1.His memory regarding the day

Throughout the podcast, Koenig expresses frustration with Adnan’s inability to recall as to what he was doing the day of Hae’s disappearance.

Hae’s body was found on February 9th 1999 and this is the crime scene. Adnan was questioned prior to this date and he did not recall the events (“Adnan Syed”).

It’s certainly frustrating for Adnan more than anyone that his memories don’t include any form of evidence which could help determine who killed Hae. As much as his lack of memory can be seen as a way of covering up and not having to justify what he did on January 13th, I see it as clear as black and white. Why can’t Adnan remember? Because there is no significance to that day, compared to other days, which compels him to remember. The day is just another which Adnan had to live his daily life, “We attend to the present, and therefore we forget. We live our lives moving forward – comprehending, acting, and reacting” (“Why we forget”). To further prove this, Adnan states: “…the only thing I can say is, man, it was just a normal day to me. There was absolutely nothing abnormal about that day” (Koenig).

I often wonder if he’s trying so hard to remember that he’s forgetting, but this is an aspect which cannot be proven or tested, – memory is memory, and memory cannot be forced out of Adnan.

Memory is wired into the brain, but there must be some signifcance to an event for the brain to store that information(“Why we forget”).

If someone was to ask me what I did exactly two weeks ago from today, I wouldn’t be able to tell them. Why? Because nothing worth remembering happened. Hence, I can understand Adnan’s frustration in not being able to remember. Because as much as he tries – he simply can’t. If indeed he did murder Hae, there should be some form of remembrance of any activity which he could manipulate to use to his advantage – but he isn’t doing that.

And that’s why I’m compelled to believe he indeed doesn’t recall. After all, nobody would lie about not remembering something that could possibly free them from fifteen years of confinement.

2.Adnan’s character and motive                                                                                                   

It has been argued that “Adnan has the intentions of a murder and his darker teenage side compels us to doubt that he could be a potential murderer” (“Adnan Syed guilty”).

Adnan Syed and Saad Chaudhry to his right.

However, Adnan’s friend, Saad, mentions that although Adnan did partake in activities such as drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse, he was still only “…guilty of being a normal kid with immigrant parents” (Koenig).

Whose words seem more trustworthy? Between an outsider and Adnan’s best friend, I’ll have to pick Saad. It’s easy to point fingers and accuse Adnan of being “a dark teenager” especially since he is of a strong Muslim background; where actions such as drinking and intercourse are hugely frowned upon (“Islam beliefs”).  However, considering the enormous role that peers play in a teenager’s life and the effect that friends and society have, Adnan was simply experiencing life as a teenager.

Islam is very strict with its beliefs and rituals. Adnan is a follower of the religion, but when teenage needs and religion conflict, it’s a natural stage of experiences.

The reason I can really sympathize with Adnan is because of my strong religious background as well. Hinduism and Islam are strongly related, and the core beliefs that my parents implement in staying home and not being involved in the usual “teenage activities” are really similar to Adnan’s situation.  By accusing Adnan of having bad intentions and breaking the rules that his parents put up for him is unacceptable – it’s simply the act of growing up.

So while his image is cleared up, there’s still the question of Adnan’s potential motive and his feelings towards Hae.

 When thinking about this cold murder, it’s the sole act of killing another individual that pops up first. It’s not under alcoholic influence, or a heat of the moment and passionate crime. While keeping this in mind, the only logical reasoning as to why Adnan would possibly wish to kill Hae is “…to take the matter into [his] own hands and try to make [her] suffer just like [he] did. [He] justifies [himself] saying, ‘you get what you give’” (“Reasons to kill”).

But this completely contradicts what Adnan says: “…I just sometimes wish they could look into my brain and see how I really felt about her… Whatever the motivation is to kill someone… it didn’t exist in me.  No one ever has been able to provide any shred of evidence that I had anything but friendship toward her, like love and respect for her… I had no reason to kill her” (Koenig).

Adnan and Hae seen as a couple during their prom.

Adnan is adamant about his feelings towards Hae, and in Hae’s diary, she never even mentions Adnan or any dangerous vibes from him after they broke up. Keeping anger bottled inside of Adnan would not make any sense – he would have to share it with someone. Yet none of his friends reported any hatred or desire for revenge on Adnan’s part.

This eliminates the idea of a murder based on revenge and hatred. It also clears up Adnan’s character which could even potentially build up bias against him. Going off of the way his peers described him, his adamant words and lack of motive – this just gives me one more reason to deem him as innocent.

~Click to watch Hae’s family speak about this murder~

 3.Jay’s weak testimony and lack of evidence

 To say the least, the evidence against Adnan is weak. When analyzing the justice system, it needs to follow the “beyond a reasonable doubt measure” (“Canadian justice system”).

The only REAL evidence the court is considering is Jay Wilds’ testimony, which seems to create more and more questions for me. There isn’t a solid foundation on which this
murder case is built on – the jury was not even given any concrete evidence which would be enough to go past the reasonable doubt.

In greater detail, Jay says that: “[Adnan] opens the trunk. And all I can see is Hae’s lips are all blue, and she’s pretzeled up in the back of the trunk. And she’s dead” (Koenig).

There were no DNA tests done to test the claims that Jay Wilds made.

There should be so much evidence being derived from this scenario, but there isn’t. There is no physical evidence that links Hae’s body to Adnan or to the trunk of the car. Where is the evidence that her body was “pretzeled up in a trunk” before she was buried? And even if she was buried, where is the evidence of the shovels? There is none. There are no documented attempts to recover the shovels or even take DNA tests at the time of the investigation to find clues that could help catch the cold hearted murderer (“Adnan Syed key evidence”).

Yet even due to the appalling lack of documentation of Hae’s burial scene, a witness’s statement lends more credibility than physical evidence.

Another thing I find interesting, is the blind actions that Jay follows. Jay states: “[Adnan] told me that I had to take him back to school because he needed to be seen there” (Koenig). If it were anyone else in this situation, and if the sight of Hae’s body “painted a cold and dark picture” (Koenig), then why not call the police right then and there? If Jay indeed had to go drop off Adnan at school, then were was his noble intention to report a crime?

On the left is Adnan Syed and to his right is Jay Wilds.

If Adnan really threatened him, while the time that he was in school, Jay could have easily called the police to report Adnan and there would be no danger that Adnan could pose for Jay. But he didn’t. And this is what pokes holes in his testimony – Jay never claims to have seen Adnan kill Hae; he simply claims to have helped Adnan bury her body.

4.Asia McClain

Picture: Asia McClain in 2017.

When Adnan’s classmate, Asia, is interviewed almost fifteen years later, she is still firm in her statement: “Adnan came in. He sat at the table. And we weren’t really close friends or anything like that, but we knew each other. And we chatted or whatever… I know school let out around 2:15. So it was probably around 2:30” (Koenig). The whole point of this story is to use the time that Hae died as a direct clue.

~Click to watch Asia McClain Speaking Out~

I can’t stop myself from getting furious about Asia’s testimony denial. Adnan’s petition to bring Asia to court was denied by the judge. His reasoning was clear – Asia’s letter did not specify an exact time and her statement could have easily been regarded as a lie in order to help Adnan (“Adnan Syed is Innocent”).

This does make me wonder that maybe Asia really is lying to protect Adnan, but she herself says that they “weren’t really close friends” so, why would she lie? What’s the motive? Why protect someone she isn’t close with?

All I can think of is – nothing.

Lies simply cannot be told to save someone with no close relationship. I put my faith into Asia’s word as she never changes her statement even after fifteen years. Fifteen years where life can take its toll and make someone forget – but not Asia. She is positive about seeing Adnan, and I can’t disregard this information.

Letter which Asia wrote to Adnan, confirming that she indeed did see him in the library on the day of Hae’s dissappearance.

She remembers this day because of significant events such as; her boyfriend being late and the first snowfall of the year. She remembers because it perhaps really did happen – Adnan might have really been there (“Asia McClain testimony”). Of course, I can’t just conclude this because the whole case revolves around the time frame, and if it was this easy to say Adnan was innocent, he wouldn’t be in jail right now.

But I’m simply viewing the only statement which is believable with physical evidence (the notes), since Jay’s story cannot be backed up with hard, raw evidence… I’m putting my full faith in Asia McClain.

And there it is. My thoughts on Adnan Syed’s innocence, poured into this blog. Labelling an individual as “guilty” without the State even knowing themselves, is complete bias for the public. The fact of the matter is, that while considering the statement “innocent until proven guilty” – Adnan Syed will remain innocent until, and only unless the State of Maryland can use concrete evidence to prove his guilt.

Until proven guilty, Adnan Syed should be labelled as “innocent” in the eyes of law. 



Works Cited

ABCNews. “Asia McClain Speaks Out About ‘Serial’s’ Adnan Syed.” YouTube. YouTube, 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Adnan Syed.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Adnan Syed guilty.” Reddit. Reddit, n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Adnan Syed is Innocent.” Reddit. Reddit, n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Adnan Syed key evidence.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 01 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Asia McClain testimony.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, 22 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Canadian Justice  System” Kostman & Pyzer Barristers. N.p., 04 July 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Islamic Beliefs.” ReligionFacts. N.p., 22 June 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. N.p., 03 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017.

Msnbcleanforward. “Major Breakthrough In ‘Serial’ Case | msnbc.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 May 2015. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Presumption of innocence.” LII / Legal Information Institute. N.p., 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 July 2017.

” Reasons to kill.” List Dose. N.p., 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 28 July 2017.

“Why We Forget.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 23 June 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.

WMARabc2news. “Hae Min Lee’s family speaks | Serial podcast.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.


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