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carmellomangexp

The Serial Podcast

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I've been hearing a minor buzz about this for a couple weeks and finally dove into it this past weekend after a friend explained it to me.

 

For those who aren't familiar, it's a podcast produced by NPR and hosted by Sarah Koenig that investigates a Baltimore murder case that occurred in 1999. A high school student, Adnon Syed, was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Lee. The state's case against him was very thin and based almost entirely on the testimony of Adnon's acquaintance, Jay, who claimed Adnon told him about his plan to kill Hae and then enlisted his help to bury the body. However, there are a lot of holes and contradictions in Jay's story, his character is highly questionable, and there are a ton of other details that do not add up in the big picture.

 

Nevertheless, Adnon was convicted and has been in prison for 15 years. Koenig is now reinvestigating the case and presenting it piece by piece in Serial. She's not trying to prove Adnon is innocent or guilty (Although the head investigator for The Innocence Project is now looking into it as a result of being contacted by Koenig), just closely examining the case for all it's crazy twists and curiosities. It's presented chapter by chapter as one long narrative, and the investigation is still taking place. There's no end in sight, and production is only a week ahead of when episodes air.

 

The story could be a season of True Detective. It's so engrossing and there's so much mystery with the case and everything surrounding it, right down to the relationship between Koenig and Adnon. (The pod includes clips of their phone conversations.) I'm constantly going back and forth with what I believe and I've listened to each of the 7 episodes at least twice so far.

 

Apparently there are ton of threads and web discussions with people developing wild theories...there's now another podcast devoted to discussing Serial, people are having listening parties with friends and such...it's just going viral.

 

Anyone else into this yet?

 

If not...check it out

 

www.serialpodcast.org

Edited by carmellomangexp

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Yeah, I've been following since the first episode.

Lot of people I follow on Twitter are in on it: I do wish the episodes were longer each week since they tend to be only 30 minutes or so.

 

I don't know if it's good enough to have a 'listening party' and I've stayed away from googling the case.

 

I don't know if Adnon DID it or if he was a part of it.

But Jay's story is wicked weak/lame and you do have to say it's a weak case.

At the same time, I don't think there's going to be a proper ending or how long this will continue.

 

What sold me on the podcast was this from Grantland...

What sold me was this recommendation on Grantland….

Juliet Litman: I’ve recently been wondering what it was like to hear The War of the Worlds radio broadcast back in 1938. The story goes that listeners across the country believed Earth was actually being invaded. The amount of hysteria that ensued is disputed, but the singularity of the radio event is not. In our culture-saturated world, it’s difficult to imagine a piece of entertainment that would provoke the same response. Even movies shrouded in secrecy before their release, like Cloverfield or the upcoming Tomorrowland film, are quickly demythologized. Not only do we face an overwhelming volume of entertainment on demand in 2014, but it all comes with ancillary material. You can almost always gather more information about who you’re watching or listening to in a matter of minutes. Can any of us fathom what it’d be like to encounter a story that can’t be explained or illuminated by a secondary source? I think the closest we can come right now is listening to the new podcast from WBEZ Chicago and the folks behind “This American Life,” Serial.

Serial is a weekly production that tells one true crime story over the course of a season (number of episodes unknown to me, and I don’t really need to know). It’s hosted by “This American Life” regular Sarah Koenig. She’s investigating the story of a murder in Maryland from 1999. A high school girl was found dead in January of that year, and her boyfriend at the time was convicted of the crime. He has been incarcerated since then, though he maintains his innocence. As Koenig explains in Episode 1, there are 22 minutes from the afternoon of the killing that remain up for debate, and she’s tracking down every lead to determine if the man who was convicted actually did it. There have been only two episodes so far (it’s definitely not too late to jump in!), and already my jaw has dropped a couple of times and I’ve talked to myself in my car about how unbelievable some of the details are.

The crux of the story and the conceit of the podcast are simple, which is part of the appeal. It’s easy to follow along as Koenig’s investigation takes turns that neither you nor she expects, which is really a testament to the Serial (and “This American Life”) team’s ability to craft a radio story. It’s as if they read In Cold Blood as a primer in narrative nonfiction, and then went on to mine all the good ideas from The Killing.

So far I’ve chosen not to Google the victim, her accused killer, or anyone else introduced in the story. Part of the idea here is that we are learning what happened very shortly after Koenig does, but I also suspect there would not be a glut of information — another particularly enjoyable aspect of this podcast experience. The crime itself occurred in 1999, before the Internet’s tentacles extended to the degree we’re familiar with. A cursory Google search mostly brings up stories about the podcast, not the crime itself. Ultimately, I’m choosing to trust the program and its producers. We just have to take on good faith that Koenig is presenting the story in a straightforward manner and accept her facts as truth. Trust has become a counterintuitive impulse when it comes to episodic entertainment, and choosing to do so is a worthy exercise in its own right. Listening to Serial is almost a relief because there’s not much discussion to have or questions to ask, except to wonder why this kind of podcast hasn’t come along sooner.

 

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one of my favorite internet writers, Danger Guerrero, on the podcast

http://uproxx.com/webculture/2014/11/what-is-serial-and-why-is-everyone-freaking-out-about-it/

 

I guess the next episode is going to focus more heavily on Jay, as it should.

I'm not sure how he didn't get punished too, right? Or did he even somewhat?

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The inconsistencies in Jay's story are plentiful, but he also comes across as pretty dumb. It seems more likely that he can't keep his facts straight, gets confused, or simply changes his tune for reasons that would seem stupid or insignificant in hindsight (like being scared to get busted for selling drugs...which he claims Adnon had as leverage to compel him to cooperate,) rather than him masterminding a fairly elaborate way to frame Adnon. The main points of his story have been consistent, and they are corroborated by evidence. 

 

It's a lot easier to poke holes in the case against Adnon than it is to come to the conclusion that he is innocent. A few things really make me question him.

 

- The insistence of the detectives that he was "without a doubt" guilty shifted my view somewhat. I really want to believe that they saw this up close enough and with enough experience to render a solid opinion. Maybe that's weak though, or just naive.  

- Someone did kill Hae, and there aren't really any other solid suspects. Even Jay, in all his shadiness, doesn't have a plausible motive. I guess it could have been random, but that seems almost impossible since Jay implicates himself and reveals the location of Hae's car.

- The testimony from Kathy about when Jay and Adnon showed up at her place, and Adnon's phone conversation ("What am I gonna say? They're gonna come talk to me..")...All seemed very suspicious and bad for Adnon. This raises the question of who the other person on the phone was...obviously someone who would have known about the murder.

- Cell tower pings near Leakin park around the time Jay says they were burying Hae's body...I know the cell tower pings are unreliable, but the fact that they directly corroborate Jay's story is an unlikely coincidence. 

- The Nisha Call

- Adnon never called Hae after she went missing. Again, it's weak, but it sure is fishy. (edit: Realized Hae didn't have a cell phone...makes more sense...but I maintain there is fishiness)

 

I actually teach very close to the school they went to. I work at Woodlawn Middle, they went to Woodlawn High. I'm tempted to ride by the school and some other key locations this week just to take my creepy intrigue with this case to the next level.

Edited by carmellomangexp

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I'm not at all surprised they didn't wanna rehash the case or be involved in Serial, but SK quotes one of the detectives as saying he believes beyond a shadow of doubt that Adnon was guilty.

 

For some reason that stuck with me. Not because it's a great piece of evidence, just because of the apparent strength of his conviction. At a point when I felt Adnon was more than likely innocent, that prompted me to strongly consider the possibility that he was guilty, which is the direction I'm leaning in currently, although I also kinda hope I'm wrong.

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I am inclined to believe Adnan mainly because I just don't want to believe he did it and that's Koenig s main goal and hope maybe is to help out an innocent man possibly. But I don't know who else could have done it...I don't take what the detectives say seriously because it's just secondhand and want no part of the podcast.

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Not yet but I plan to soon, at least from Woodlawn High to the Best Buy. I'm sure it won't be particularly enlightening. Possibly on Thursday while listening to the new episode.

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Saw it, subscribed to it in PocketCasts, and never listened to it. Finally took a stab at it today based on this thread and I'm super glad I did, I'm 3 episodes in right now. I'll probably catch up before the next episode comes out.

I'm inclined to believe Adnan as I'm always a fan of proven innocent stories, and underdogs in general. But they better get to identifying other legitimate suspects or I'm probably gonna start thinking he did it again. The fact that this is a true story makes me feel weird about having theories or ideas or believing him or not believing him.

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Very cool to see a few of you are getting into it. I've gotten a handful of my friends hooked in the past few days and it's been fun talking about it.

 

I think the initial impression, even after listening to every episode so far, is that Adnon seems innocent. Hearing him speak, realizing the apparent weakness of the case against him, the shadiness of Jay...it all prompts you to at least want to believe he's innocent. 

 

But the more I comb through the details, the harder it is to believe he had nothing to do with it, even if he's not guilty of strangling her himself. 

 

In a vacuum, most of the dozen or so key details implicating him seem to have a plausible explanation. But in total, it becomes harder to chalk all of them up to horrible coincidence. I at least begin to understand how he was convicted in the first place. 

 

I'm assuming the next episode will focus on Jay heavily. Would also be nice to learn more about Hae. We know so little about her at this point. 

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This is tremendous. I am all caught up. I love podcasts and this is one of the best I have heard. This is more intriguing than pretty much anything on TV right now. I cannot wait to hear the next one about Jay. 

 

I really don't know what to think. 

 

Do any of you listen to other crime podcasts? The only other one I listen to is Criminal and I like that for the most part. They are all short and cover a different topic each episode. I love the episodic format of this one covering only one story. 

Edited by donwayneleach

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-Jay never went to jail (pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact...but got a deal where he never went to jail; Sarah Koenig is going to talk more about Jay in another podcast)

-Jay is a black dude, got compared to being Dennis Rodman-ish in his appearance/personality...black jury and got badgered hard by white lawyer could have been an appeal into believing him

 

the main thing would be what motive would Jay have to kill Hae OVER what Adnan's motive would be? Revenge on Adnan somehow? Maybe for buying presents for his girlfriend Stephanie or something perceived?

Why would Jay admit to it, bring anything up?...but, more importantly, how the hell did he NOT get any time in jail?

Lot of inconsistencies in his story above the norm.

But he DID point out where Hae's car was.

 

They tried to get Jay to talk in this episode...but, yeah, not happening.

Jay and the detectives would be the people you'd most want to hear from that we haven't heard from. But you know that shit isn't happening because both have EVERYTHING to lose in different ways and obviously Adnan has nothing to lose since it's been taken away already.

 

Adnan is painting Jay as not a 'friend' even though...

-he was some guy he smoked weed with

-Jay was out of high school and someone he hung out with...even Jay picking up Adnan at high school (in that version, that would make me think he's his friend)

-Adnan included Jay in on the crime why? Because Jay was involved in illegal shit? Freaked out and needed help to bury the body and find a place to bury it?

 

I don't mind if fellow high schoolers/people who grew up on Jay is painted as a 'liar' because every high schooler lies/exaggerates stories in high school.

 

Thing is, Adnan has no answer for Jay or what motive he could have. None. The #1 thing he has is how consistent he is in his story.

 

Main thing: it's a weak case to put Adnan away...but you also can't think of anybody else who could have really done it either or had more motive.

and that somebody did say Adnan's cell phone was inside that park at that time, even though there are issues with the cell towers.

 

Adnan NEVER took the stand in his murder trial...that happens all the time, but I find that troubling whenever someone does that. That's a bias against the person.

I feel like he got put in a bad place from his lawyers possibly.

 

Alan Sepinwall on 'Serial' and ambiguous crime stories

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/the-city-that-bleeds-on-serial-homicide-the-wire-and-ambiguous-crime-stories/

Edited by Cassidy

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haha his first words, "I KILLED HAE!"

yeah, I wasn't expecting anything to happen.

 

He answered his door with a beer can in hand: GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

yeah, I don't know.

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It shouldn't be enough to convict Adnan, but I am starting to feel like he's guilty simply because there isn't a better explanation. As much as I want to say Jay did it and is trying to frame Adnan, there's really no evidence at all let alone more compelling evidence.

Also, now I'm wishing it was somebody else who is likely innocent that killed the girl. I wonder if Jay could sue for defamation of character, technically they haven't lied, but they damn sure have made millions of people think he's a murderer. 

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How annoying was Maria Gutierrez? The audio of her cross examining Jay was borderline hilarious. Knowing that Adnon never took the stand and Gutierrez was such a huge part of the image of his defense makes me understand the conviction even more. She sounded like a wild nut, regardless of what the underlying tactics were. 

 

I believe more than ever than Adnon is guilty...which makes me still only about 68% sure. 

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Only halfway through but Adnan defense attorney is awful. I think they played her voice earlier in the series. But if you were on a jury, youd hate her and her deliberately slow cadence. It's the worst.

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Great epidode...didn't inform us on anything new. Defense fucked up badly but doesn't mean he did it or not....next week sounds like they're doing the psychopath test

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