DiscoverSerialS01 Episode 07: The Opposite of the Prosecution
S01 Episode 07: The Opposite of the Prosecution

S01 Episode 07: The Opposite of the Prosecution

Update: 2014-11-0681
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Adnan told Sarah about a case in Virginia that had striking similarities to his own: one key witness, incriminating cell phone records, young people, drugs - and a defendant who has always maintained his innocence. Sarah called up one of the defense attorneys on that case to see if she could offer any insight into Adnan’s case, and got much more than she bargained for.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

because if you got to know what she herself or someone else say it is really nice guy at all previously on cereal the on and on remember you saw her on the phone with like me to settle for this number he had told my daughter he had seen a body of a girl in the back of such an attractive some vehicle I think the guys seem was me at nine The The move from the inmate The The The from This American Life and WBC Chicago it's cereal one story told week by week and Sarah Canuck the I heard about this other case of a kid named Justin Wolf actually and nine mention the case to me kind of in passing remember how he heard about it he's a lot of different stuff in prison we've been talking about the cell records and how they were used in Don's case in a non said that in this other case of Justin Wolfe sell records had also been used against him but then Justin last conviction was overturned in part because of the cell records so I look at this case of just a mall just to see and on paper I have to say it's sort of uncanny how many similarities there are with the nuns case all young people first of all Justin Wolfe was a suburban kid eighteen football player people thought him as a good kid though he was selling pot and hang around with some tougher types this next part is different obviously he was convicted in the two thousand one murder of a drug dealer who was shot nine times Justin Wolfe was not the shooter the shooter was a slightly older friend of Wolf's named Owen Barber who got a deal in exchange for testifying against Justin Wolfe Owen Barber told the cops that just a month it hired him to kill the drug dealer was sentenced to death in Virginia Woolf trial attorney later gave up his law license after the bar had initiated disciplinary charges against him for this is the technical term being a crappy lawyer oh and there was a witness who has never heard from other than that totally different case anyhow eventually Owen Barber recanted he said Justin Wolfe had nothing to do with the murder he'd only implicated Wolf to avoid a death sentence from self the the and so I read all about this and thought let me talk to the lawyer who helped figure out the flaws in the state's case against Justin was off maybe she has some tips about how we should be looking at the cell records differently in animes case I looked her up her name is Deirdre and right and she works at the University of Virginia School of Law she runs the innocence Project clinic there they do what innocence project's do they re investigate all cases to see if someone's been wrongfully convicted and I called and asked how she dealt with the cell records in the Justin Wolfe case and she was kind of so so on that topic again a couple in Ames to try no great insights but man on every other topic I found her so helpful she started asking me about an ons case and I ended up sending her a summary I'd made of the detectives reports and then the next time we talked I asked if she'd mind going to Studio J you know I read your synopsis of year just to jump right into your case ok I have a million questions for you but very very thin case yeah after I started reading all the all the what you had I started thinking so so everybody years in high school right and why is Don this doesn't appear to be of interest anyone Don was his new boyfriend the police considered his alibi ironclad he was working at lens crafters all day but this is how it is with Deirdre a conversation with her never seems to begin exactly it's already their ongoing her thoughts churning and you just kind of join in and hope you can keep up she's not a small talker or a beat around bush as you discuss whatever it is you came to discuss full on looking it squarely in the face she is no time for bullshit and not because she's a bun or anything but because she actually has no time she's one of the busiest and most curious people I've ever met you know when you first talk to me that this case the first thing I thought is OK do we have a jailhouse informant do we have a person who got way too sweet of a deal or what when I read through your police notes or summary of your police notes I just kept going back to motive and thinking that's a big black hole for me I still don't understand why you want this girl dead yet because she broke up with you people break up with people all the time and I canned them a little concerned about racial profiling here you know on on on the part of a nun in other words some Pakistani Muslim and great and people are saying you know his dark side of man his you know there was some notation about he was very controlling mom and I thought I wonder if he was really very controlling and so there there's that then a little bit I had a cell phone thing for us in Justin Wolf is that they used to the cell phone records to say they they have been out the period of time when the shooter is driving to the place where the victim is and shooting him and then coming back and so they they put those up on a board in the courtroom and say Look at this he calls him right before he commits the murder any calls him right after he commits the murder you know but and then you get everybody's phone records write all these kids that are buying pot smoking pot and selling pot and everybody's calling each other all the time so so then you stop and stand back and say also what are they trying to say that Justin Wolfe and these kids is up from upper middle class kids are so stupid that they get in a car and call and say OK I'm him okay I just murdered I'm coming back now I just heard you don't mean like who does that in so you know now all these witnesses are saying oh no we were to stop calling each other to buy pie like those calls are the bitter infused with meaning by the prosecution's theory have no in space yet and it's funny like do you get cases like cousin Don's case I feel like from what I can tell others not to gross negligence or or or or or malfeasance or something on the part of the detectives or the state attorney's office like everyone seems to be doing their job you know responsibly just doesn't seem like there's an obvious like Oh they never looked at the new boyfriend never question the guy who found the bot like it seems like it on himself is not supplying anything super useful to say like here's why I can prove I didn't do this like he has set out front like I can't give you like some clinching piece of information or evidence that's going to solve this week I wish I could but I can I just don't have it like I don't know I don't know how to prove this you know that's that's I love hearing that because somewhere along the line I started realizing that when you have an innocent client see they are the least helpful people in the whole world because they are but they don't know they don't they have no idea like as soon as I realize I have an innocent client in that situation I think like okay we'll talk to you again when I've solved it because I'm not going to need you here because what's happening with a nun is where all find something out the looks kind of bad for him and I'll come to him with and be like Why does seem like you may be made this phone call in the middle of the afternoon at a time when you're saying you are a track but the phone number is to someone who only and J didn't know and so like there's this phone call with this girl Nisha and it's like this glaring thing to me in the middle of the phone wreck around like hats the one kind of looks bad for you like explain that to me how do you explain a call to me and then his his answer is so kind of mealy or not so satisfying where he's like I don't I can explain it like maybe it was a butt dial and like a machine picked up a name like but she's testifying that there is no machine on it and he said I don't know what to tell you but like idea I didn't have the photo the track and it's like I wanna be like Dolph explain it should have and they are and that's not surprising to you not at all so there was a case that I had the federal capital murder case right where my client Darrell Rice rate charged with killing two women hikers in the Shenandoah National Park and blahblahblah they filed a motion saying the motive in this case was hatred it was a heated lesbians that's why he murdered these two women so Darrell Rice was easy for me not in the beginning because his answers weren't self serving and helpful the way you'd think he's had time to think about this why I didn't have a better answer than that and many I started to realize because he hasn't been thinking about this because he didn't murder anybody and so like I remember their maps right to show him I like where the crime scene was versus where the lodge was versus where mile marker forty two point you know and so I put I put this all out on a table and get my reading glasses and an innocent soul so when you would camp there can you show me where you were and then he was like okay well I didn't I didn't camp there I I would ride bikes there and of course I'm like okay well whatever that you are whatever you're in you've been in the park foreign and finance said but in relation to the crime scene and then he looked at me it was so simple it can be said Well I don't I don't know where the crime scene was so can you show me that and I remembered thinking of course I'm like everybody else I think he knows where the theme is right how many legged you only take on cases where it's super clear to everyone involved like on your side of the year side of the bar or the bench rather I guess that that this person is and isn't around for a connected or do you take cases where like you really a new start and rode in like three quarter case it turns ugly and he probably did it so let's not take on that one or you are you only working with cases where you're pretty sure from the get go that well we don't know if the get go because we're the people that decide whether it's going to be it's going to go or not so so it goes every different way right sometimes we start down the road and very quickly we talked to four witnesses all of whom say knows absolutely him they have no reason to Latino and weed is not we quickly realized OK we were being had here so we are in the weeds about a lot of things for a long time until we figured it out to like today we had team meetings for four clinical cases and those are four cases you know to whom we are sure already two of whom were just trying to figure it out yeah but your guy went to a jury which you know that's relatively unusual and I'm assuming he went to a jury because he was saying I didn't do this right right and so sometimes people say I did some of this but I didn't do all of this so I'm going to trial but he wasn't saying that I have always said the same thing which is again nothing to do this raid which I don't know people a unilateral or so they're all go the their old lady I generally feel like with specially for most of my career I was dealing with people and I wasn't a director in innocence Project and I had a very clear sense of which my clients to Dwight and that's because they told me like you know so I put some stock in people saying I didn't do it and staying with that you do er yeah now I know some people would say I'm naive but I also think like I've been doing this work for really long time I don't think naive is a good word for me um you know was so happy I'm I'm I feel like um because I feel like I'm having this experience where I'll read some thing or I'll do an interview like Okay yeah there's no way he did it just doesn't add up it doesn't add up and then of the very next am like Oh God Oh My Goddess look at the phone call to Nisha lol Yes yes or lake you know move this friend said that he you know behave this way during the relationship but this other girl just talk to us they was like no use really overbearing possessive and my cui my God maybe did you know Heidi do you have that link does that still happen to your duty as though I know I now actually teach that I tell people all the time you you are late you are juggling and everything's in the air and your frozen and you have to stay there until you're just you've eliminated all questions because if you if you come down or catch one and get attached to it to make the same mistakes that law enforcement do and I think to when you keep going like what happens to me is that I reach a tipping point where I have answered questions to my satisfaction and I have answers for everything and in my answers are better than law enforcement answers so when I read what you've given me I just think you guys just don't have it just didn't he nobody's really doing anything bad ever people are trying to and talk to people but they don't have enough to go forward but they do anyhow write so people so you know you've got bad feelings and you've got J a changing story you know like I look at this is this a case that wasn't ready to be brought you don't have enough to put odd non away like that and not to me you don't it doesn't the fact that they did put him away mean that they have to put them away well and yet they would say yes and I would say no and the reason I say that is because I look at this and think law enforcement and prosecutors and defense attorneys um we all would we act like if the jury will convict them that's fine and I think those of us who know a good case from a bad case should know that even if we can get a jury convicted doesn't mean we necessarily should ask them to do that is so sore you not does it not happen to any more where you're just like one day you think like oh he did an x they think Oh no you know for the first however many months thinking oh yeah of course it's him no no it's not him but in order to revisit it in any kind of careful way you have to revisit everything right in the good in the bat in whatever and look at it with you know an eyebrow up yet and sometimes it gets to stay exactly the way it is and it's unsatisfying that's my fear to get through all this and move to an end you might and I can't pretend that that that I just thought of something that I think we should do unless you don't want to do it and you can just think about this so just today one of my teams and it's one of my better teams because it's a kid who has a law student who has some urge at the FBI and is going to work for the U S attorney so he doesn't have my tree hugger you know everyone's innocent instinct but he's a really hard worker Annie as a team and we just closed their case and he came to me tonight and said Are you find me another case and I said yeah let me flip through tonight and see what we got home city are thinking wait I should assign them oh my gawd rates that's really um like I literally just thought OK I'm here thinking you know it's a lot of legwork hub if we had a team of five students we could get those things done you know with people that are being supervised so think about that I'm totally hooked the the the the the the uh the thing about it I said yes go ahead not that I would work with her my job unlike theirs is not to figure out if or how I can exonerated not sure if they wanted to take a look at the case on their own of course I welcome that many more sets of eyes some fresh some jaded could only be helpful it seemed to me went down to Charlottesville to see how they were getting along here is the sound of a law clinic getting ready to consider a new case that the scanner scanning its little scanner heart out man by any wonder can grab her students mostly couple of kids come by the officer gets one of her daughter scanning he said the scanner smells good yes it smells like laundry and ink and I don't know what laundry smells like it's Deirdre so now what we do usually in Him we are cases is we collect what Mom has what in me has what is in the court file what a paper everywhere that's what we do is click all the paper and then do exactly what they're doing and then put the team and we say take a weekend and read it all hosts conviction work often involves going back and looking at physical evidence in a case some innocence Project only work with cases that have DNA evidence for instance his group isn't one of those but still she will definitely take it if she can get one point deer to read the printout of an email regarding evidence in an arms case so this is an e mail in two thousand and eight from the Baltimore police saying that he believes items from this case have been destroyed but he doesn't have a document saying that that is true So hippy hundred percent shore and he's the evidence control unit person so yeahh that's not good I think there's two things to think about there's this statute usually in every state about evidence retention and that you can't destroy evidence until a case is over and done with doesn't mean they always honored the other thing I'm thinking about is I can tell you the number of cases where somebody says I think it's fun and then you go can you be annoying and you poke around and say Can I come back their look and they say OK we'll look into something so here it is like so it's not fatal to the see how I refuse to accept anything but it's true I can think of anyone more optimistic than Deirdre which I don't know I would have guessed that after doing this kind of work for decades and knowing how rare it is to reverse a conviction you naturally settle in as a pessimist but maybe the opposite is true that because your chances are so low you have to look on the bright side in order to do this work at all otherwise you can function when sturgeon are students digest this massive amount of paper the next step is decide what they've gotten their hands first thing they do says Deirdre is to give in on back the presumption of innocence was kind of a profound thing when you think about it it supposed to happen the first time around a trial this seems like no one in the profession really believes that it does because you can't help it as a juror you figure the guy sitting behind the defense table must have done something wrong so dear just team starts with the promise that he didn't do it and then they see where that road takes them where they end up is that they think maybe a town really is innocent then they have to figure out if there's any way they can prove that in court the answer to that could definitely be now because the evidence is gong on the people won't change their minds there's no legal remedy the um it's just those things are just after time those things are usually harder to get to as a legal question Deirdre says they should only have to prove and nine isn't their guy he's not the killer but as a practical matter she said their chances are much better if they can go a step further and say to the state not only is this not your guy we can tell you who is your guy the truth is when you can give the answer of who it is it makes a whole lot easier on everybody else to walk away and do this thing that no one ever wants to do and usually there's some logical explanation right there's there's a guy there is a serial killer there's somebody who's motivated to somebody who hated a like usually there's something so you don't have to but I always tell people you have to of course after looking everything over division her team might well decide that maybe a nun is guilty in which case they would quietly pack up the files and just keep their mouth shut but I'm saying is like that could happen here in another case that you could look at and be like me it looks like it at the state to me I mean not to the world right I would say to you I would say to time but I wouldn't say it to anyone else you do that the four weeks later I checked back in with your dress and two of her students Katie Clifford and Maya pay a good read through all the files you guys to any of you guys think Aidan's guilty now now I wouldn't be I would have been able to find him guilty with this now that this is one of the things that was very odd when I first started reading this case is how precisely he was convicted under this amount of material but no I've not seen as being guilty at this point I would just add this point knowing what I know I would say I guess I'd have to put him in the person of interest category because he was an old boyfriend but even that I would think like but I see no evidence that he was mad mountains of reasonable doubt The The The The surprise me somehow I thought at least one or two of them would end up on the fence but they all sounded so forthright they said the big things that trouble them with the same things that trouble me namely Jays shifting statements to police and how the cell tower information didn't fully matched his narrative but the other stuff they seized on with stuff I hadn't paid much attention to it all the forensic reports are out of the relative lack of forensic reports this is Katie is in our files we have a lot of things evidence they collected the sand off and we don't have reports for everything are curious about the results that we don't have and whether or not those existing just lie around the house that we have a liquor bottle from one bottle of cornet días que Brandy that was found right near his body and a lab reports as they recovered new pleaded with the li'l from the mouth of the bottle and from the cab but that's all it just says quote retained for future possible analysis and quote but the future never came they never tested those cells for DNA then Mario didn't like to report on the fibers to fibers one reddish that was found near his head and one that I think was fluorescent blue it's a little hard to tell from the airport was found underneath her in soil Mario didn't think they were tested against enough samples for instance they weren't test against a rope that was also found right near the body I would think that you would be able to compare the fibers to the Roper compare the virus to whatever you can get your hands on and I didn't actually see that ever get tested the fibers were tested against some things but nothing NOTHING came back of significance and five assists the fact of the fire is just kind of went away as for the rope which from a photo looks like a laundry it wasn't tested at all for anything this is the kind of thing happens a lot where investigators will say Oh that item we corrected it's not relevant it's not connected to what happens is no point in testing so another case that I had anything that didn't match those that purr that or the suspect that they had they just ignored it right and they would say well that's that's outside the crime scene that's really not inside the crime scene so those beer cans over there were no contest there because that's too far way we're going to call that outside the crime scene and when I talked to a DNA expert about that they were saying Yeah I mean if you swab that and you get some sms in cells or saliva and it's just randomly get no hit on any body will then it's been it's neither here nor there but they were saying but if you if you put it in you get hit on a serial killer right or the one of two other people who killed Asian women within a year in Baltimore well now we've got enough to charge and convict somebody so what you call relevant and irrelevant you can only do once you have a test result finally dear Jenna and Katie overall confused by the swabs that were taken from his body the medical examiner had done what's known as a perk it stands for physical evidence recovery kit is a standard procedure in a rape case but is also done in some murder cases there was no evidence he was sexually assaulted but they did the swab just the same the medical examiner's report says they came back quote negative for Superman is a quote but that's about it which seemed very thin to Deirdre that these swabs weren't examined more thoroughly that they were never tested for DNA which is just weird that's just that seems very strange to me in a case like that seems very strange to you almost always submit that for DNA testing and that's what we're not seeing is a lab report that says you know if it came back and that's the other with being Lucy Goose see about whether it's um not Jade not odd nine you know that strains right so OK so so is that something that you guys would want to get tested absolutely yes due to incorrect me if I'm wrong but this certainly seems to be quite a bit to get started do you have any metric of how hopeful slash hopeless this one looks at this point in terms of finding out something useful and usable Mario's shaking his head because he's a pro government right wing I Republican operative the visa but then I checked with Mario he said it's fine you know it's always an outside shot always there's enough here is I guess what I'm saying is there's enough here that you think it's worth asking these questions like Do you guys independently feel like know something went wrong here or is this just like the well we're sort of shimmering you the reporter know I would I would look at this as this I would have a team on this case saying keep going I see they all seemed so hopeful so sure that with enough digging they're going to shake something loose but was more skeptical mean I felt like I'd been in that same mindset for so many months and I haven't found anything that absolutely tip the scale of the non favor anyhow dear ger noticed fair you sound really down at noon today I don't know yer I do I go up and down I go up and down sometimes I'm totally with them and then other times I'm like Oh do this doesn't why I can't remember anything wise is nothing I don't know that I just go back to look like a new account for this day of all days you knew it was important to you got a call from a cop that day asking where ex girlfriend was surely you must've gone over it before or six weeks had passed surely you know I don't have that reaction but I see what you say Hannah and then I just am aware of Lake Wi Fi is this amazing sociopath and that is being played now I don't get that sense but here I mean he's really charming he's really smart he's really he's funny and you're like Yeah any quick fix up everywhere I go with that like in my twenty how I'm six years of doing this I pray for a sociopath because I never get those guys I get the innocent ones and I get these dumb show me my friend's book work for three days we drink five bottles of whatever and then we got to play
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S01 Episode 07: The Opposite of the Prosecution

S01 Episode 07: The Opposite of the Prosecution

This American Life