Serial by Sarah Koenig

Sarah Koenig set up Serial to make you suspect that Adnan killed Hae Min. Should she have done that?  She begins with Adnan’s lack of alibi. She ends with her doubts about his innocence.  Is that fair? 


Serial by Sarah Koenig

The opening of a new trial in Adnan’s murder conviction case in 2016 means that his conviction no longer stands and he is no more the person who can be termed as the killer of Lee (Chaudry). It is obvious from Serial that Sarah Koenig has created suspicions about the conviction of Adnan. The reopening of the trial in itself is a proof that Sarah Koenig had done a superb job by creating suspicions about the trial. These suspicions are not created by falsifying facts but solid proofs that could be presented in the court of law. The question is about giving a chance to a person who has been convicted in the absence of solid proofs and also the absence of facts that could have been presented in the court and helped him get an acquittal. The Serial has shed profound light on these legal loopholes and provided us with the other untold part of the story. We, as human believe in quick justice and want convictions, even if it could mean a wrong person getting behind the bars or even in gallows. We also may suffer from conformation bias due to our simplistic attitude. Everyone believed in the cell phone evidence as was put by the prosecutors. But in episode 12 of Serial, Dana has admitted that there was a need to thoroughly examine the cell phone evidence as it would have not stood the test of examination. I believe that legal system should not always focus on the rate of convictions, but the delivery of justice. I, therefore, stand with Sarah’s decision. I think that there are loopholes in the legal system that can be exploited by legal experts to get their desired verdicts. I do not think that anyone should be a victim of these loopholes just like Adnan was. 

There are many ways of telling story and many more stories, I agree, but the way Sarah told this story accomplishes its goals which are noble in my opinion and which were aimed at finding a correct conclusion to a trial that had fundamental flaws. I think that Serial is a great story with information that was missed in the first trial of Lee’s murder which could have helped him and let him have an almost two decades life spent out on the streets with his family and friends instead of jail. Serial investigated th tail of the trial court, the presentation and order of the evidence, the arguments made by the prosecutors and defense lawyers and how this presentation helped convict Adnan. The grounds at which the Maryland Court of Special Appeals filed a decision that allowed the retrial of the case in 2016 in itself proves the utility of the story. The Maryland Court had established that Christina Gutierrez proved to be an ineffective counsel during the trial and hence she might have missed a chance to seek a plea bargain (Lawyer). The ineffectiveness of the counsel defending Adnan is an important question that has been raised in Serial. It proves that Sarah was right after all about this aspect of the trial.

The first doubts that were created in my mind about the so called “truths” that were presented in the court during the trial were after I listened to the first podcast episode. In this episode “The Alibi”, Sarah has sheds light on Adnan’s alibi that could have proved vital if proved by his friend’s testimony who were never contacted by the defense or prosecutors. Adnan had repeatedly stated that he went to the library after the school. A letter by Asia, after one year of the trial testifies that Adnan in fact was in the library because she saw him there. This also suggests the negligence of the defense because Asia also claimed that the defense did not contact her.

Sarah has also suspected the role of Mr. S who happen to easily find the body of the victim. Mr. S found the body of Lee a few hundred feet from the road according to the episode 3, Leaking Park, which calls for many doubts about what was he doing that far away from the road at that time. There is a reasonable space of doubt here in my opinion.

The statements of Jay keeps on changing from time to time. Is he in the stable state of mind? Is he a compulsive liar? It is evident that Jay may have avoided a jail sentence with the help of his testimony which puts serious doubts on his role in the whole murder episode. Jay also testified that Adnan was with his friend Will at around 6 PM, but Will was never contacted by the police. Why didn’t they do it is beyond my understanding. The inconsistencies that are evident in Jay’s testimony makes me believe that he was not telling the truth. Though I would not speculate on his motives as I do not have any evidence to support my claim. But from the face of it, he seems to lie.

Adnan in one of his statements said “he wished he had really killed Lee, so that his parents did not have to go through what they are going through now with their innocent child in a jail”. It is true that to prove his innocence, Adnan may say just anything, but to wish to be a murdered instead of being innocent and labeled as a murderer has a strong sentimental value for me. I think that these words are from the mouth of an innocent man and not someone who has committed such a hideous crime of killing someone.

The case of Adnan goes beyond finding truth and justice. It is about who we trust and who we do not. This is exactly what Sarah is trying to establish. Can we trust our friends? Adnan did trust his friend Jay who stabbed him in his back. Can we trust the legal system? The legal system seems to have failed Adnan. His own defense seems to be more interested in convicting him instead of saving him for going to jail or even the gallows. This is a test case to make us think about us and about others and how we may fail or save each other.