Sammy Nickalls
August 25, 2015 7:23 am

Three months ago, we learned that Serial, the real-life crime podcast that was downloaded 76 million times, is returning for two seasons. “As it stands, we intend to launch Season Two this fall and Season Three next spring,” the podcast team wrote in an email sent out to Serial subscribers. “Sorry — we can’t tell you details about the new stories yet. What we can say is that they’re very different from Season One, but no less interesting to us.”

Now, we’ve received a new update. And no, it’s not about the future seasons. . . it’s about the first season. It turns out that Justin Brown, Adnan Syed’s attorney, has claimed that key cellphone evidence that was used against Syed to convict him of the murder of Hae Min Lee was unreliable. The incoming calls to his client’s phone were used by prosecutors to prove that Syed was in Leakin Park at approximately the time his ex-girlfriend’s body was buried. But these calls never should have been used in the murder trial, Brown says, because the phone company, AT&T, included a warning about the accuracy of the cell tower data along with the data faxed to police.

“Outgoing calls only are reliable for location status. Any incoming calls will NOT be considered reliable information for location,” the note read.

Syed was convicted in 2000 and is currently serving a life sentence. However, if AT&T’s note had been “properly raised at trial” by Syed’s attorney at the time, “much of, if not all of, the cellular evidence would have been rendered inadmissible. . . We feel that the fax cover sheet from AT&T is an extremely important piece of evidence, and we are bringing it to the court’s attention as quickly as possible,” Brown told The Baltimore Sun. “We hope the court considers it.”

This is just one of several questions Serial has raised about the quality of Syed’s previous defense attorney, Cristina Gutierrez. After Syed was sent to jail, one of his classmates, Asia McClain, wrote him letters in jail pointing out that she had spoken with him for 20 minutes in a public library near the school on the day authorities believe Syed killed Lee, yet Gutierrez never approached her to testify — despite the fact that Syed told her about the conversation. McClain’s affidavit, according to The Blaze, says she had “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.”

Now, Brown is raising the AT&T warning as another reason. Prosecutors used the call records to corroborate the story of Jay Wilds, who claimed to help Syed bury Lee’s body. AT&T records showed his phone connecting with towers that were close to Leakin Park that evening when he received inbound calls, but these are exactly the calls that the phone company said were not necessarily reliable.

“If AT&T, the architect and operator of the cell tower network, did not think incoming calls were ‘reliable information for location,’ it is unfathomable that a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge would have allowed an expert opinion … under this method,” Brown wrote.

According to Brown, “the credibility of Asia McClain [now] is pitted against the credibility of Jay Wilds.”

(Image via Serial)

Advertisement