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In my opinion, Adnan Syed should not have been found guilty under his circumstances; he was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Hae Min Lee and should be exonerated. Adnan was wrongfully convicted because he was found guilty simply on the basis of reasonable doubt, had been exploited by his defense lawyer, and was provided with ineffective counseling by Christina Gutierrez,.
The main source of evidence that the prosecutors used against Adnan was Jay, who by himself was not a credible informant. There were many inconsistencies in Jay’s testimony, and his side of the story changed each time he was interviewed. As well as Jay’s claims, there were many statements pointing to Adnan’s religious background being a motive for him murdering Hae Min Lee. These two factors were the main reasons contributing to Adnan’s conviction, both of which do not extend beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, Adnan was indeed wrongfully convicted for the murder of Hae Min Lee, because the standard evidence required to validate a criminal conviction must exceed a reasonable doubt. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment states to “[protect] the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt
of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged.” (Legal Information Institute). By convicting Adnan of Hae Min Lee’s murder based on the little evidence they have, the prosecutors, judge, and jury have acted against the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. The only evidence which would normally have exceeded reasonable doubt would be Adnan’s fingerprints in Hae Min Lee’s car, but it was not particularly strong proof, as since Adnan and Hae used to date and were friends, Adnan has been in her car multiple times and fingerprints last more than 6 weeks on a surface.
When Adnan was arrested and interrogated back in 1999, his family hired a highly recommended public defender; Christina Gutierrez. In her prime, Gutierrez had a reputation in her field for her relentlessness and being at the top of her game, and was called a “pitbull on the pant leg of justice”. Later in her career, however, things started to change. She would demand high sums of money in cash from her clients for legal services that would never transpire. This also happened in Adnan Syed’s case. When he was arrested, he received tremendous support from the mosque. They actively participated in his court sessions as well as raised monetary funds to assist Syed’s family with the financial costs of the case. Syed’s mother, when being interviewed for serial podcast, claimed that towards the end of the trial, Gutierrez began to “bully” them for money, and that money would be the only topic that she would talk about. Instead of doing her job and finding evidence to defend Adnan against the prosecutors, Gutierrez was exploiting him, the Syed family, and the muslim community.
Apart from the financial controversy, Gutierrez had also failed to investigate both the alibi provided by Asia McClain and a potential plea deal; both of which would have had Adnan out of prison by now. Soon after Adnan was arrested, Asia sent Adnan a letter. In it, she writes about seeing Adnan in the library around the time Hae Min Lee was said to have been murdered, and encourages his defense to look for the security footage in the library. She also says “…More importantly I’m trying to reach your lawyer to schedule a possible meeting with the three of us.” This letter validated that McClain did have an alibi for Adnan, which was the most important thing he was missing. She also displayed her keen interest in meeting up with not only Adnan but his lawyer (Gutierrez) to further clarify the details of when she had seen him on the day of his girlfriend’s death. Hae Min Lee’s boyfriend, Don, was just as much a suspect as Adnan was, however he was soon acquitted because his boss verified that he was working in LensCrafters that day. If Gutierrez had pursued McClain’s alibi, Adnan, like Don, would be acquitted of the crime. Adnan Syed had also requested for the possibility of getting a plea bargain. This would diminish his jail time by a lot, and he would have been out by now. Gutierrez, on the other hand, failed to seek or look into the possibility of getting a plea bargain. Syed’s family and friends were aware of Gutierrez’s ineffective defenses, and accused her of throwing the trial on purpose in order to further extend her services. A reason for this could be because of her deteriorating health, and she needed money to pay for her medical bills.
In conclusion, Adnan Syed was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Hae Min Lee because of the lack of evidence beyond reasonable doubt, the manipulation by Christina Gutierrez, and failure to pursue information that could have acquitted Adnan or diminished his punishment. He should be both exonerated and be provided compensation for half of his life that he wasted in jail.
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