‘Serial’ witness provides crucial alibi for convicted murderer

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Serial’ Figure Offers Alibi for Adnan.

Asia McClain, the former classmate of Adnan Syed — the man convicted of the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee — has written a new affidavit reiterating the claim she made in the hit podcast “Serial” that she was with Syed at the library at the time Lee was killed, The Blaze reports. A key witness and perhaps the only alibi for Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit true-crime podcast Serial, has come forward to claim that the prosecutor in the case suppressed her testimony at a crucial appeal hearing. In her new affidavit, provided to The Blaze, McClain says that the trial prosecutor Kevin Urick made up statements about her in a 2010 appeal and the original premise – that she had only written the original affidavit because of pressure from the Syed family – is essentially false. “I never told Urick that I recanted my story or affidavit about January 13, 1999,” she wrote in the new affidavit. “In addition, I did not write the March 1999 letters or the affidavit because of pressure from Syed’s family. In her affidavit, provided exclusively to TheBlaze, Asia McClain says she has “c[o]me to understand [her] importance to the case” and realized she “needed to step forward and make [her] story known to the court system.” Syed’s case became something of a national obsession when it was chronicled in the 12-episode podcast “Serial,” which concluded in December.

Sarah Koenig, a journalist for National Public Radio’s This American Life, began investigating the case in 2013 for Serial, which broke all iTunes download records in the autumn of 2014. McClain was never asked to testify at trial, and now Syed is petitioning for an appeal partially based on his claim that his first lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, didn’t attempt to use McClain as a potential alibi witness. Syed was convicted of strangling Lee when they both were seniors at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, but “Serial” raised questions about whether he received a fair trial and is, in fact, even guilty. Here are just some of the people, places and things that have differentiated themselves from the swarm and attracted communities that by (sometimes unknowingly) setting a new bar, and often leaping over it.

My only goal has always been to provide the truth about what I remembered.” McClain was a key to Adnan’s innocence, as she stated in letters she wrote to him after his arrest that she saw him in the school library right at the exact time the state said Lee was murdered. In the original trial, Syed’s family raised the matter of McClain’s letters with defence attorney Cristina Gutierrez several times – even pleading with her to raise the information in a motion for a re-trial, according to documents filed by Syed’s attorneys on Tuesday.

Perhaps most damning, McClain suggests that Urick essentially talked her out of participating in the appeals process by implying that the state’s evidence against Syed was far more robust than it was. Not at all. “I was under the impression that there was a tremendous amount of evidence that convicted Adnan and that for whatever reason, his team was reaching out to me as a Hail Mary, so to speak,” McClain said. “I really didn’t realize how, I guess you could say how weak the state’s case was, the information, the evidence that they had and the testimony that they had.” Now, after the popularity of “Serial,” she feels it’s time to speak up. “I know that across offices and homes in America, and beyond, people have been discussing Adnan’s guilt or innocence,” she told The Baltimore Sun. “And I almost feel that I am the only person that should not participate in that conversation.

If you saw 2 people get into a fight on the other side of the street, I believe your moral obligation is to tell the police what you saw, not to extrapolate from that who is to blame.” The Blaze did contact Urick, who stands by his original actions. ““Absolutely false,” he said about dissuading her from talking about her actions. “I was not the one that brought up anything about evidence. Rabia Choudry, the sister of Syed’s best friend and the person who first contacted Koenig to convince her to look into Syed’s case – and who has written about it for the Guardian – sent a private investigator to track McClain down.

But as “Serial” laid out, Wilds’ story shifted over the course of multiple interviews with investigators, and host Sarah Koenig called into question the accuracy of the cell tower records. Today, they are not only successful, they have their own movie: “The Lego Movie” last year grossed over $50 million movie and starred Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett. Having convinced McClain not to appear at the post-conviction hearing, she states, Urick then testified under oath that McClain had told him explicitly she had written the letters under duress, a claim he repeated in an interview with The Intercept this month.

Syed has appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and his defense team will likely submit McClain’s new affidavit in a new filing. Key prosecutorial players—Urick, star witness Jay Wilds—never spoke directly to producer Sarah Koenig, in whose telling the first comes off as overzealous, and the second as a liar. While McClain’s revelation buttresses the Koenig Doctrine that Syed was wrongfully convicted, Urick’s rebuttal supports a competing doctrine: that we’re all a bunch of dupes with bleeding hearts. McClain told the Guardian that when Serial first came out, she listened to the first couple of episodes, then stopped because “it brought back too many memories for me”. “It was only in late November that I caught up with the show, and finally realised the import of what I knew to be true in the case,” she said. “At that point, I was taught that if you see something say something, so I took the steps that resulted in the affidavit being filed this morning.” Syed’s chances of overturning his case hang by a thread. This 25 year-old has sold more than 30 million albums, 80 million digital single downloads, and has over 50 million followers on Twitter and nearly 20 million followers on Instagram.

So when Taylor Swift closed out 2014 by “gifting” her fans (her fans are known as “Swifties,” and the gifting event was branded as “Swiftmas”) it was the cherry on top of a marketing Xmas tree that has over 5 million YouTube hits, a sleighful of media press, and a sigh from industry peers who wish they had been so smart. Based on my conversation with Kevin Urick, the comments made by him and what he conveyed to me during that conversation, I determined that I wished to have no further involvement with the Syed defense team, at that time. 29.

Says CEO and Co-founder of Lumosity Kunal Sarkar, “Lumosity is like a gym for your brain.” There are over 40 web and mobile games with daily exercises to help improve your brain’s resilience and flexibility. Users track their game performance over time, track self-reported mood and hours of sleep, identify trends, compare themselves to others, and learn more about themselves. The Human Cognition Project works with dozens of researchers at nearly 50 institutions with the hope of shaping human understanding of cognitive training and the brain. McClain’s new affidavit is expected to be part of a filing by Syed’s defense team Tuesday morning, according to her Baltimore-based attorney, Gary Proctor.

Yet, this mother of four has innovated in the confusing and competitive online retail space to create Lolly Wolly Doodle, a children’s clothing company that one editor describes as a fusion of “flash retail” plus “just in time” manufacturing. Not only that, but her 100+ local-employee hires have given her hometown of Lexington, North Carolina (which has nearly eleven percent unemployment) an economic rebound. Every four to six weeks, the two thousand square-foot retail space located at 19th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan reinvents itself by switching out inventory and content based upon the eponymous “story” of the moment. His team is still arguing that he received ineffective counsel because Guitierrez did not pursue McClain, and also that she did not pursue a plea deal for him. Founded by Palmer Luckey and initially funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Oculus Rift has created 360-degree immersible alternate reality via a headset.

At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, they revealed the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype, along with Gear VR Innovator Edition, and they are set to launch a consumer product in 2015. Urick said his office would always be willing to discuss a plea, though it doesn’t mean one would have been offered or agreed to; there was also no indication from Syed that he wanted to plead. “He even stood up in sentencing — this was after he fired Ms. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.” If we are able to drench our brain in virtual experiences that feel as “real” as ordinary life, this verisimilitude can become extraordinary. That could mean the court doesn’t consider Syed’s claim about Gutierrez not interviewing her to be a valid line of inquiry, or it could mean they’ve already decided to accept it and only want to be briefed about the plea issue. “It doesn’t surprise me that the court said we want additional briefing on this [plea] issue … that doesn’t mean they’re not going to rule on the [McClain] issue, it probably just means they’re already aware of what the law is in that area,” Proctor, McClain’s attorney, told TheBlaze. “It’s always divination and reading tea leaves to decide where an appellate court is going. She didn’t attend Syed’s trial or any of the hearings; she said she didn’t realize that the prosecution contended that Lee was dead by 2:36 p.m. — in the middle of when she says she was speaking with Syed — until she heard it on “Serial.” Instead, she says, her first reaction when she realized she’d spoken to him on Jan. 13, the day Lee disappeared, was shock: they’d talked about Syed and Lee’s recent breakup.

Go for it. “One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people,” founder Palmer Luckey wrote in his own Facebook post. “By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.” Solar highways. Because I wasn’t a friend of Adnan’s, and he got arrested, it was all over the news, and it hit me like a ton of bricks,” McClain told TheBlaze. “I didn’t know when they suspected he killed her, so when I first remembered it, my first thought was initially, Oh God, did we talk about something that made him upset and, you know, did he kill her? I didn’t know.” “Think about it, if you were to have a conversation with someone and then all of a sudden they’re suspected of killing a person that day and you don’t know if that was before you talked to them, or was it after you talked to them? Sound familiar?) Now Solar Roadways based in Sandpoint, Idaho has designed a system that enables parking lots, sidewalks, and highways to absorb solar energy and then feed it back to the grid.

All you can think is, I hope I didn’t say anything.” It raises the question: how did she recall exactly when her conversation with Syed took place? Originally started as an Indiegogo project, Solar Roadways has received short-term Federal funds to help design a system to replace asphalt and concrete surfaces with solar panels rugged enough to drive upon. As McClain told “Serial,” she remembered the day was Jan. 13 because it was “the first snow of the year”; she got snowed in at her boyfriend’s, then the next two days of school were canceled.

Co-inventor Scott Brusaw (and co-founder wife Julie) has other ideas too: “What if we added LEDs to “paint” the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving? But “Serial” producers went back and checked: The Baltimore area was hit by an ice storm in the early hours of Jan. 14 and schools were indeed closed Jan. 14 and 15 — but it was ice, not snow, and the weather didn’t get bad until the early hours of Jan. 14, making it seem unlikely that McClain would have gotten stuck the evening before. No more power shortages, no more need to burn coal (50% of greenhouse gases), less need for fossil fuels, less dependency upon foreign oil, less pollution. As I sit here today, I can’t tell you if it was snow, the building was cold, the sidewalks weren’t salted … [it] could be closed for eight different reasons, but in terms of Hae going missing, everyone knowing that, we are certain that conversation in the library occurred on the day she went missing, there is zero doubt about that.” “I’ve had to remember it so many times, I mean — one of those things that keeps playing back in your head over and over and over again,” she said. “First of all, telling Adnan’s family, writing it down in a letter, telling people throughout my life about that experience. Even my husband — it’s something that [I’ve] spoken about many times over the 16 years.” Now, she says she’s willing to appear in a Maryland court to testify to what she knows.

And it also answers just how far you can push the Mercedes Benz brand envelope (just what, exactly, do those two words mean to people?: style, quality, satisfaction, trust).

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