18 Years Later: Why I Think Adnan Syed is Innocent



adnan young and innocent.jpg
Could this smiling seventeen-year-old be a cold-blooded killer?


Sarah Koenig’s podcast, Serial, investigates whether or not Adnan Syed committed the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and leaves her audience hanging at the end of the first season. There are many different speculations to what happened during that fateful day on thirteenth of January in nineteen ninety-nine, but I am confident that Adnan is not the one who ended Hae’s life.

First of all, there is no hard evidence against Syed. Sarah even said it herself in the podcast that the only thing she knows that could be truly incriminating is his cell phone records. Outside of that, the court has nothing solid. In fact, the phone records may be his saving grace because it places him in a different location that afternoon. In addition to this, Asia McClain, a classmate of Adnan’s, says that she distinctly remembers seeing him at the library that afternoon at about the time Hae was murdered. Not everyone is as sure of Syed’s innocence as Asia though.


adnan and hae
It is hard to believe that Adnan is the one who brutally ended his young love’s life.


Jay, Adnan’s friend, seems to be set on the accusation he made: Adnan was the one who strangled Hae. This should not have been taken as seriously as it was though because there is no one that can attest his credibility. Jay could have easily had a grudge against his friend or even been the one who did it for all anyone knows. There is only a slim chance that the details he gave about that day were true, considering the fact that there are inconsistencies poking a hole through his stories everywhere. For example, Jay says that he was at the house on the night of the 13th, but Jen, his girlfriend says they were at the Westview Mall. Jay also seems to know a lot about the case and he was said to be pretty intimidated by the van and of nondescript people who were “threatening him.” This does not make sense for someone who has nothing to hide and regarding so, there is a definite possibility that Jay was at least a significant factor in the murder committed that day.


So the mystery ensues…


There is no way to know for sure who is telling the truth, and – as Koenig says in the episode – the question to ask is, “What is the utility of which lie?” There are many speculations that can be made about what happened to Hae Min Lee that afternoon, but a fact that I believe to be true is that Adnan Syed is not guilty.

To watch a scene from ABC News that elaborates on Syed’s case and talks with Asia McClain, click here.

Works Cited

Angelowicz, Ami. Adnan and Hae. Digital image. Investigation Discovery. N.p., 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “What We Know.” Audio blog post. Serial. N.p., 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

Macatee, Rebecca. A. Syed. Digital image. E News. N.p., 1 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.Asia

McClain Speaks Out About ‘Serial’s’ Adnan Syed. ABC News, 2016. YouTube. 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

Stone, Sasha. Hae Min Lee. Digital image. AwardsDaily. N.p., 27 May 2015. Web. 28 July 2017.




Koenig’s ‘Serial’ Strikes Syed’s Case Skillfully

Sarah Koenig’s ‘Serial’ has taken the world of podcasts by storm.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to and analyzing Sarah Koenig’s podcast, ‘Serial.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful recording of her investigation of Adnan Syed’s alleged murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It weaves a tale that you cannot help but be sucked into. At times I was convinced that Syed was innocent, and at others I believed he was the stone-cold killer that the media painted him to be. It was almost too easy to empathize with a person who is behind bars for the killing of a young girl, but that is what I liked about the podcast. You get to play the devil’s advocate in your head while following on, and you have the ability choose a truth to believe in.

adnan syed
Adnan Syed at the courthouse after a day of hearings for retrial.

This being said, I think Lee’s family has some negative feelings about the podcast’s popularity.  They say that “‘it remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed (our) family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. (Fenton, The Baltimore Sun)” While Koenig looks at two possibilities as to what happened to their relative, the Lees feel uncomfortable – and even angry – that this whole investigation is being brought to light again through ‘Serial.’ They are thoroughly convinced that Adnan is to blame for the 19 year-old’s death.

hae min lee
Hae Min Lee (1980-1999), allegedly murdered by Syed.

Even though these are the sentiments of the family, it is understandable that Adnan has so many supporters. Fans who claim that they “just want him to get a new trial. (AFP, The Express Tribune)” have grown attached to the idea of his innocence. ‘Serial,’ the medium where so many have been made familiar with the case, does not hold a bias against him (if anything, for him) and transforms the case into something reachable. The audience doesn’t need to endure any stuffy police statements or government-endorsed beliefs. Instead, they listen to Koenig – an average woman who is simply fascinated with the murder – among other potential witnesses and even Syed himself. This, to me, gives way for the development of empathy for the alleged killer due to the of the lack of formalities and familiarity.

Hey, I get it. The podcast allows investigative journalism to have a new life – it gets its audience to care more through its convenient medium. People, especially millennials, are addicted as “a solid 38% (…) listen to podcasts according to Edison Research. (Podcast Motor)”  I know that for myself, there is no trial for ‘Serial’ podcast. It completely ensnares the imagination and will keep me hooked for many more episodes to come.

Works Cited

Fenton, Justin. “Hae Min Lee’s Family Says Syed Hearings Have ‘reopened Wounds Few Can Imagine’.” Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 07 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

AFP. “‘Serial’ Hero Adnan Syed Gets Second Chance in US Court.” The Express Tribune. N.p., 10 June 2017. Web. 21 July 2017.

“4 Ways Millennials Are Changing the Way We Consume Audio.” Podcast Motor. N.p., 29 Aug. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.