Adnan and Occam’s Razor

Somewhere in my rhetorical or literary education i internalized the notion that to argue effectively for your own position you must argue (and acknowledge) the position of the opposition.

So here are some facts–

Cristina Gutierrez was widely, maybe universally, regarded as a bulldog defense lawyer–merciless and effective.

Her disbarment was voluntarily signed because she was suffering from the debilitating symptoms of MS. She could no longer practice law and therefore saw no point in fighting the disbarment.

The anonymous tipster was Adnan’s peer both in age and background.

At least one other person from his closest peer group reported that he had talked of how to cover a murder of a girlfriend.

Jay had no motive to kill Hae. Adnan did.

And this, not exactly a fact, more of a logical problem–

If Adnan did not kill Hae then Jay is either a liar and a murderer or a liar and police patsy.

Hae Min Lee deserves justice. If you believe Adnan is innocent then you must answer the question of who did kill her.

And why?

She Played Lacrosse?!

When I found the archival link to Hae Min Lee’s memorial I was grateful for a glimpse of Hae the way she was, not as a static prop for the Serial podcasts.

It is a dangerous thing to make the alleged perpetrator of a crime the hero of his own story without a balancing reference to his victim.

His victims.

Her friends were victims.

Her family members were victims.

Her teachers…

And she has not been given life by the podcasts so far so focused on the man purported to have killed her.

And here is the first and easiest disagreement I have with Adnan Syed–All Asian girls do not look alike.

Hae played lacrosse. Which was and is pretty badass. If we are to be anything but serialistic voyeurs we will have to find the pictures, the voices, the memories of this young woman who was so much more than the last day of her life.

Pictures of Hae

I am haunted by the grief caused by the murder of a girl.

I am not convinced Sarah is. She seems to have an almost Capote-esque crush on the alleged the murderer.

Understandable. Why would he talk to her if she did not establish rapport? But in establishing a cozy rapport with the alleged killer she may have jettisoned her objectivity and an accurate m├ętier for the humanity of Hae Min Lee.

Sarah says she read Hae’s diaries. She has surely interviewed dozens of her classmates. She should be able to paint a better picture of this young woman who…

Believed rather recklessly in love

Made good grades

Had a solid plan for her future

Played lacrosse and helped the wrestling team

And left a hole in the heart of her community.

If you cannot conjure up the living girl, you cannot comprehend either the depth of her loss or the demand for justice.

A life was taken. What good is clever reporting if the one who lost the most is but a cartoonish shadow of the young woman who was Hae Min Lee?

Jay, Serial-podcast-Jay

I have a bad habit of wanting to adopt people, and one of the people I would like to adopt is Jay.

Jay without a last name Jay

Jay from Serial Jay.

I know we are all deeply imperfect, flawed, untrustworthy, which makes adoption risky for all parties, but the way Jay was described in this week’s Serial podcast made me want to adopt him.

It seems to me, a kid like Jay deserved a chance. And if he told a messy version of the truth–some version of the truth, then he was one more victim of a terrible, terrible crime.

That is something that echoes in nearly all the voices in this story–people now in there 30s grappling with a violent loss.

The effect of the murder of Hae Min Lee was so devastating for so many.

Where do you go? Where would you go with such a fragile, unbearable story?

The Day I Lost You

The sky was very blue in Beaver, PA on November 13th, 1998. There was a cop car parked down the block. I looked at it and wondered–did they put it there for me?

Had I planned a run to Canada I would have take off already.

People from our church came. Reporters came. They gathered around us in our pain.

Then the caseworker came.

I will never forget what happened between the house and my last glimpse of you in that car, but even after 16 years I don’t want to write it down.

Still too painful.

All of it, too painful.

Hae Min Lee

Like millions of other listeners, I have become deeply entrenched in Serial, an episodic treatment of the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999.

The podcasts are mostly riveting and leave the listener grasping for answers.

But some things demand to be confronted emotionally, not just in the clinical language of forensics, but in the enduring vortex of loss and grief.

I have hunted for archival traces Hae Min Lee–glimpses of the girl from before her life taken and then reduced to jurisprudential conjecture.

Who was Hae Min Lee to those who loved her? A picture, a memorial–something. I found this– a piece on her memorial.

She played lacrosse…

left a grieving family…

…a family whose grief is indicated mostly by their present silence. Surely they would be appalled by the surgical reduction of this vivid girl to…a piece of evidence not properly disposed of.

I keep returning to the snowstorm; days her family must have spent hoping and praying for her safe return.

When she could not.

Would not.


Because she had been rendered helpless, cold, and alone in the shallow grave, in the silence of falling snow.

It seems to me American justice requires a return to that quiet wood and all the things that were stolen from Hae Min Lee.

Perhaps we are all too accustomed to our fictional procedurals to realize that real crime leaves empty places in the heart and a grief that never lifts or relents.

Maybe Splendor

Maybe splendor
Is a girl
Rowing her younger brother to the
Far shore

She tells him she he will be
A cowboy there
He asks her how he can be
Without a hat

She tells him
you will make one
From the twigs and branches
And leaves there

And you will have a cow you will name Horse and another named Ted or Fred, he said

She says, and a chicken…now get your clothes and race me up the hill.

A chicken named