The story of a missing high school honor student who was later found dead and her recent ex-boyfriend who was charged with her murder in Maryland back in 1999 has been my latest obsession for the last few weeks. If by now, you have not heard about the SERIAL podcast that began in October of 2014, then you must be living in a cave.
I first learned about this podcast about a year ago when the Today Show did a segment on it as the last episode was preparing to be released for season 1. I have never really got into the whole “podcast” thing so I didn’t pay it too much attention then. But for whatever reason I recently heard the first episode of Serial’s season 1 and was immediately hooked. It is great for traveling so I binged through it quickly.
For quick background information on the case, Serial provides a “partially unbiased” look into what happened on the afternoon of January 13th 1999, and the events that followed. Essentially, a Korean-American female high school senior, Hae Min Lee, went missing on January 13 in 1999. Her body was found a few weeks later in the city of Baltimore and her recent Pakistani-American ex-boyfriend and classmate, Adnan Syed, was charged with her murder.
The thing that makes this case so interesting is the cast of characters involved in the resulting trial, but more than anything it is the lack of real evidence against Adnan that somehow got him convicted and the fact that he very much seems like the most unluckiest person alive.
After I finished listening to SERIAL, I had my own theory, which I’ll share in a later post, on the case but was still a bit hesitant to make a firm assertion as to who I thought was guilty/involved etc. So as many others have stated, Serial left me with more questions than I was comfortable with.
Luckily I immediately began listening to what I’ll call the sister podcast series entitled “Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed” which unlike SERIAL was very biased towards the innocence of Adnan. But after episode 10 of Undisclosed, which I had to listen to at least 4 times to understand what they were trying to explain, I was convinced that Adnan was the lead character in a series of very unfortunate events, and that he was wrongfully convicted.
For me this case is even more interesting because 10 years ago I lived in Baltimore county not too far from Woodlawn high school, the school the victim and her boyfriend attended, and I’m familiar with several of the locations mentioned in the case.
But for me this is/was a case of more than just guilt or innocence. It is a case of justice and our very flawed legal system and our even more flawed prison and reform system. Whether you believe Adnan is guilty or not, one thing that is certain is that his court case was a complete circus and undoubtedly should not have led to his conviction.
Because of my past career plans to complete law school and pursue a career in the legal system, this case and all of the hoopla surrounding it have made me strongly reconsider my decision against going to law school. I’m excited about a few things I have in the works that will allow me to explore an old and now refreshed passion of mine. And I’m also excited to see what will happen with this ongoing case, as recently a Baltimore City judge granted Adnan’s request for a post conviction hearing relief to reopen his case.