Innocent Under Arrest

question mark.jpg
Everything is questionable.

Maybe, possibly, if, perhaps, assuming, supposing; these are words that describe and basically summarize Adnan Syed’s case. I personally believe that Adnan is innocent based on the information presented about the case in both episodes 1, and 12 of the Serial podcast. I recognize that there are some discrepancies between some claims Adnan has made, and some evidence, but they do not overcome my reasoning for why I believe he is innocent

adnan.jpg
Adnan Syed recently.

A

 

In episode 1, Koenig introduced the audience to whom the prosecution’s star testifier was in the case. This man is no other than Jay. The way I look at it, there would be no case if the prosecution did not have Jay on their side. Is the story of one person versus another enough to convict someone? In this case, it was, and that is not all that was surprising. The court accepted Jay’s testimony even though his recollection of what happened that day kept changing every time he retold the story. Bad liar; that is the only thing that pops up in my mind when I think about Jay. Yes, it is possible that Jay might not have remembered exactly what happened on that day, as it was a few weeks back, but then again, he shouldn’t have said something if he wasn’t sure about it. Also, it seemed like Jay’s story kept changing in a way that the prosecution would benefit from. I think that it is a definite possibility that the prosecution “influenced” Jay to change his story. Not only am I basing this thought off the fact that it kept changing in their favour, but in episode 12, Don talks about how the prosecution was literally yelling at him for telling the truth. They wanted Don to make it seem like Adnan was a creep, but when Don testified truthfully, they got mad at him. When I heard about the prosecution getting mad at Don, I immediately thought how the case went from going against the accused murderer, to it being more of a personal attack. If there is no evidence of who the murderer was, then the prosecution should not pick and choose someone random, and then mould the entire case up. Is their objective to achieve justice, or is it to simply have someone locked up so that their job is technically complete?

asia.jpg
Asia Mcclain
christina gut.JPG
Christina Gutierrez

 

 

 

 

 

The first episode was called, “The Alibi,” and this title is referring to Asia Mcclain, who was the unheard of alibi. To this day, Koenig, or anyone involved in the case cannot really say why Mcclain was not used to testify as an alibi, or why she wasn’t even contacted. It may be seen as a technique to not use an alibi, but not contacting the alibi is a complete mistake in the eyes of any qualified attorney out there. For this reason, I believe that Mrs. Gutierrez was also at fault for Adnan’s conviction. I don’t only think this because she made mistakes in the case itself, but there are other factors. According to a source, Gutierrez had family problems going on, and she was actually disbarred shortly after this case (due to connections in other cases). I do not entirely blame Gutierrez for Syed’s conviction, but she definitely had outside factors affecting her role as an attorney. Back to Asia Mcclain; if she had been used as a witness, and told the court that she saw Syed at the time the prosecution claims Lee was killed, then the state’s claims would have been absolutely knocked down.

innocent.jpg
Justice

Another reason why I believe Syed is innocent is because there just is too much doubt in the case. The US constitution states that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Does Jay’s constantly changing story fall under the category of reasonable doubt? Absolutely not. It is also said in the constitution that it is up to the state to prove the defendant guilty, and it’s not the defendant who proves himself innocent. When I hear this, I think about how the state has proved the defendant guilty. They make Syed look like a bad person, by trying to influence Don to talk down about him during his testimony. I also believe that they formulated Jay’s story for him, and these two actions are their way of holding up to the constitution, and “proving the defendant guilty.”

att.png
AT&T Cover Sheet

There is also the cell tower records that were used against Syed to prove his location at certain times. The evidence itself would not be doubted, but Syed’s defence failed to look at it carefully, and read that the incoming call location pings are not reliable enough to be used for location, and ironically, this was the other big piece of evidence used against Syed. The fault in this goes back to the lawyer, as she did not even bother to check if there were any loopholes or fineprint to make the evidence inadmissible.

ronald-lee-moore-2.jpg
Ronald Lee Moore

 

In the final episode, Koenig also reveals a man named Ronald Moore. He was a serial-killer and rapist who had been in jail. Moore was actually released from jail into the Baltimore area only 10 days before Hae Min Lee went missing. There is no actual evidence yet that Moore was in any way involved with this murder, but DNA testing is planned on being done. Also, Moore was connected to another murder case where someone had been arrested mistakenly, but this was found after he had already committed suicide. People may think that since he was just released from jail, he would probably refrain from criminal activity, but no, he was actually arrested again a short while after for burglary, and sexual assault. This indicates that he had not learned his lesson, and still makes him a prime suspect. What are the odds that Moore is connected to this case? Well, it isn’t certain that he was the murderer, but one thing for sure is that it is very possible.

locked up.jpg
Hands holding prison bars.

I have talked about Syed’s lawyer, and Moore (who is another possible suspect), but it all comes down to the state proving Syed beyond reasonable doubt, which they clearly have not. For this reason, my opinion that Syed is innocent remains unchanged.

 

 

Works Cited:

Prince, S.J. “Ronald Lee Moore: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” Heavy.com. N.p., 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

Staff, Crimesider. “Prosecutor: “Serial” questions don’t make Adnan Syed innocent.” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

Model Charge: Burden Of Proof Presumption Of Innocence, Reasonable Doubt. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

“625-00839469.” Masterfile Stock Photos. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.
Zurawik, David. “Latest twist in Adnan Syed story makes it even more media mighty.” Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 01 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.
“Asia McClain Chapman -.” Asia McClain Chapman. N.p., 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.
ThingLink. “Innocent Until Proven Guilty by Mari.” ThingLink. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.
“Serial: How Prosecutor Kevin Urick Failed to Understand the Cellphone Records He Used to Convict Adnan Syed of Murder.” The View From LL2. N.p., 17 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 July 2017.
News, Postmedia. “Innocent man locked up 19 days after ex-wife makes up story: ‘You hurt every real victim out there’.” National Post. N.p., 01 June 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.

 

Koenig, Sarah and Julie Snyder. “The Alibi.” Serial, season 1, episode 1, WBEZ, 3 Oct. 2013, serialpodcast.org/season-one/1/the-alibi. 28 July 2017.
Koenig, Sarah and Julie Snyder. “What We Know.” Serial, season 1, episode 12, WBEZ, 3 Oct. 2013, serialpodcast.org/season-one/1/What-We-Know. 28 July 2017.

Search For Justice, By Finding the Truth

 

Image result for serial podcast
Serial Podcast cover

 

 

I found this episode of Serial to be very interesting, and I enjoyed listening to it. The major reason why I really enjoyed it was because it has a sense of mystery, and it is like a two-sided argument. There are points in the episode that would lead listeners to think that Syed must’ve been innocent, but then new ideas are introduced that may question this, and it goes back and forth on this basis of innocent or guilty. Another aspect as to why I liked this podcast would be because it is based off an actual case, and and none of it was made up for entertainment purposes. Yes, listening to a fictional story may interest me, but this being completely true brings my interest level up. Personally, I would rather listen to a podcast like this than simply read it out because listening to it allows the voices of the people involved with the case to be heard (eg. Adnan), and this allows for listeners to develop a deeper connection to the content. One thing I found frustrating about the podcast was that if I missed a tiny idea, I would have to click the rewind button which took me back about a minute. If I was simply reading, I would be going at my own pace, and therefore I wouldn’t miss an idea and if I somehow did I can always look back to exactly where I want. But, with a podcast, it is easier for the listener to hear and see the emotion in the speaker’s voice whereas when reading a text, it may be difficult for the reader to pick up on the emotion by simply looking at the words. Another positive feature of a podcast is that it allows the listener to do something else while listening to it. For example, someone driving home from work could be listening to the podcast at the same time. However, they can’t, or at least shouldn’t, be reading while driving. I found this episode of Serial to be very interesting, and I enjoyed listening to it. The major reason why I really enjoyed it was because it has a sense of mystery, and it is like a two-sided argument. There are points in the episode that would lead listeners to think that Syed must’ve been innocent, but then new ideas are introduced that may question this, and it goes back and forth on this basis of innocent or guilty. Another aspect as to why I liked this podcast would be because it is based off an actual case, and and none of it was made up for entertainment purposes. Yes, listening to a fictional story may interest me, but this being completely true brings my interest level up. Personally, I would rather listen to a podcast like this than simply read it out because listening to it allows the voices of the people involved with the case to be heard (eg. Adnan), and this allows for listeners to develop a deeper connection to the content. One thing I found frustrating about the podcast was that if I missed a tiny idea, I would have to click the rewind button which took me back about a minute. If I was simply reading, I would be going at my own pace, and therefore I wouldn’t miss an idea and if I somehow did I can always look back to exactly where I want. But, with a podcast, it is easier for the listener to hear and see the emotion in the speaker’s voice whereas when reading a text, it may be difficult for the reader to pick up on the emotion by simply looking at the words. Another positive feature of a podcast is that it allows the listener to do something else while listening to it. For example, someone driving home from work could be listening to the podcast at the same time. However, they can’t, or at least shouldn’t, be reading while driving.

 

Image result for adnan syed
Adnan Syed as a teenager

 

Memory plays a huge role in the entire case of Adnan. In fact, the prosecution’s only evidence was Jay’s testimony, and the details for this testimony was supposedly solely based off Jay’s memory (which is very questionable). Koenig makes a very serious point as to how it is hard for people to remember a specific day, and time from weeks, or even days ago. Adnan had the exact problem, as he was not able to remember exact details of what he was doing, or where he was during the time that the prosecution claimed that Lee was killed. Koenig also explains that when something special or abnormal happens on a day, it is much easier to remember. The murder of Hae Min Lee took place on January 13, 1999, but Adnan was standing in front of the judge almost 2 months later, on March 1, 1999. I can barely remember what I was doing last Friday, so how is this guy supposed to testify as to exactly what he was doing, when, and where for a date that was two months ago? Rabia backs this point up by saying, “All the days are the same to me, you know”(Koenig 2014)? I have to agree with this, as I feel like all days feel somewhat repetitive, and therefore they really can’t be distinguished from each other. What I found surprising was that Jay, at some points in his testimony, appeared to have a very clear idea of exactly what was going on during that day. This may reveal a number of things. It could mean that Jay has a really clear memory because the day of the murder was abnormal to him. Another possibility could be that he is framing Adnan, and making up a fabricated story as to what happened that day. What I find very suspicious is that the details of Jay’s story kept changing, and could this indicate that the story is made up, or could it be because he does not exactly remember what happened on that day? There are just so many unanswered questions and doubts raised in this case, and I just cannot believe that Adnan was found guilty. This verdict was decided by a jury, but I believe that if it was a judge’s final verdict, then Syed would not have been found guilty with the evidence provided (McDonell-Parry 2016). Was he really proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? No, as I mentioned before, Jay’s story kept changing (which raises suspicion), and that was the only real evidence that they had against Adnan. In this case, rather than the defendant being innocent until proven guilty, it seems more like Syed was guilty until proven innocent, which is a major judicial flaw.

 

Image result for hae min lee
Hae Min Lee as a teenager

 

Something that I wonder about is how does Lee’s family feel because of this podcast becoming so popular? I don’t think that Lee’s family is very amused or entertained from this podcast. This incident happened about 15 years from when the podcast was released, and I don’t think they want to be reminded of their daughter’s murder. What makes it worse is that this murder was done with pure knowledge and hatred towards Lee, and it was not an accidental or natural death. The family does not want this death to become a roadblock to the rest of their lives, but reminding them of it will create this problem for them. According to a poll from the Baltimore Sun, 60.23% of the 4,051 people who took part believe that Syed is innocent (The Baltimore Sun 2016). Also, 17.6% said they were unsure, meaning that only 22.17% of the poll takers believed that Syed was guilty. This case would be just like any other murder case if this podcast was not created, unheard of. Nobody would look back on the details of the case, but due to this podcast, people are, and they are being convinced that Adnan Syed is an innocent man who has wrongly been convicted. In 1999, Syed was sentenced to life in prison, and Lee’s family did believe that Syed was the one who had killed their daughter (Izadi 2016). Putting the man who had taken away their daughter’s life would have been the only form of relief for the family, but now that relief is being taken back. The podcast does not directly say whether Syed is innocent or not, but in my opinion is sways towards persuading listeners that he is innocent (due to the rebutting against the prosecution’s evidence). People are looking to have a retrial for Syed, and if he is acquitted of his charges, then what will the family be left with (Macatee 2016)? A dead daughter. I am not saying that Syed should stay in jail just so Lee’s family knows that someone is suffering for the murder, but if I were in their shoes, this is how I would feel. Another indication that the family must not be happy about this podcast is that nobody from their family was spoken to in the podcast as the main point has gone beyond the death of Lee, to the innocence of Syed. There were a lot of people that Koenig talked to, including some random librarian, but they could not get someone to represent Lee’s stand in the entire situation? Koenig seems like a very good investigator, and I believe that she must have at least thought of getting in contact with Lee’s family, but maybe they outright denied the request, or maybe Koenig did not want to resurrect any unwanted thoughts for them.

 

Image result for adnan syed
Recent picture of Adnan Syed in prison.

 

Sarah Koenig is searching for the truth of what had happened on the day of the murder, and this takes a thorough and in-depth analysis of the case. All in all, I believe that this investigative podcast is a great idea, and I would highly recommend to people that are interested in mystery and crime.

Works Cited:

Macatee, Rebecca. “If Serial’s Adnan Syed Didn’t Murder Hae Min Lee, Then Who Did?” E! News. E! News, 01 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

McDonell-Parry, Amelia. “‘Serial’ Subject Adnan Syed Seeks Prison Release While Awaiting Trial.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Adnan Syed: innocent or guilty? [Poll].” Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 04 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Izadi, Elahe. “Adnan Syed granted new trial in ‘Serial’ case after spending 16 years in prison.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 01 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah and Julie Snyder. “The Alibi.” Serial, season 1, episode 1, WBEZ, 3 Oct. 2013, serialpodcast.org/season-one/1/the-alibi. 21 July 2017.

 

The Glass Castle Feminist Multimedia Presentation

Works Cited

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle: A Memoir. New York: Scribner, 2005. Print.

“Women aren’t weak: challenging gender stereotypes.” Templar Advisors. N.p., 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

Clapsaddle, Diane. “TheBestNotes on The Glass Castle”. TheBestNotes.com. 20 July 2017. 09 May 2017.

Walsh, Kenneth T. “The 1960s: A Decade of Change for Women.” U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 July 2017.

“The Glass Castle.” Simon & Schuster Canada. Scribner, n.d. Web. 20 July 2017.

The Archetypes Presented in The Glass Castle

Image result for the glass castle
Cover of The Glass Castle

 

The first half of “The Glass Castle,” written by Jeannette Walls, was very interesting and full of excitement. There were various characters in the book, but I believe two of them stood out to portray specific archetypal characters.  

Rex Walls (Jeannette’s dad) reminds me of the trickster. This archetypal character likes to live in the moment, and Rex definitely shows this in the book (Soulcraft). Rex is referred to as an alcoholic, and he sure is portrayed as one. Drinking alcohol is his way of escaping all his responsibilities/worries, and to just do as he pleases. The fact that he is an alcoholist shows his trickster personality, as the reason for his addiction is to live in the moment and not care about the future, or how it will affect others. A characteristic of this archetypal character is that they like to be funny and make jokes. Jeannette says, “One payday Dad owed the mine company eleven cents. He thought it was funny and told them to put it on his tab”(Walls 35), and this is just one example in the book about Jeannette’s dad being funny. Jeannette says, “Dad appeared alone in the doorway of my room. He told me we were going to check out, Rex Walls–style.” Right after this, Rex grabs her and runs out while the nurses are telling him to stop. This is taking place in the hospital as Rex believes Jeannette doesn’t need to be in the hospital. This is not allowed, but a characteristic of the trickster archetype is that they do what they please, and this is just another example of how Rex is shown to possess this archetype.

I can also associate the explorer archetype with Jeannette. It is said that this archetype desires to find out who they are through exploring, and is looking to better their life. Jeannette’s family is always travelling from place to place throughout this book, and Jeannette over this time really gets to know herself. “We moved around like nomads. We lived in dusty little mining towns in Nevada, Arizona, and California” (Walls 11). This quote is Jeannette describing her early experiences of them travelling. It shows that they never really spent much time in one spot, as she just vaguely says the states. At the beginning of the book, the author shows Jeannette in the future, and how she is living in New York in a building on Park Avenue (known to have upper-class houses). This shows how Jeannette has this life living in poverty, sometimes without food to eat, and shows how she becomes successful and escapes the impoverished life. Also, I found that there was a key archetypal symbol in the book.

Image result for fire
Fire

 

The major symbol that appeared in the book was fire. There were various fires throughout this book. The first one was when Jeannette was cooking hot dogs at the age of three and burned herself. The next one was when they were in a hotel in San Francisco, and a fire erupted in the middle of the night. A bit later in the book, the family was staying at a place called Battle Mountain, and Jeannette and her brother were playing with matches in a laboratory. They mixed nuclear fuel with some other liquids, and lit it with a match. This caused an explosion to occur, and set one of the walls on fire. The most surprising fire in the first half of this book was when Rex set the Christmas tree on fire (because he was drunk). This in turn burned up all the other presents under the tree. Fire as a symbol in this book is very important. It shows the destruction of the family as they have had something positive come into their lives. For example, the fire Rex started with the Christmas tree was symbolic. They had just gotten possession of the Grandma’s mansion, and this was the first time they decided to celebrate Christmas. This was all positive, and brought joy to the family, but the fire destroyed this happiness, and was a main reason for them leaving. I believe that the archetypal hero’s journey was present in this book. 

The hero’s journey consists of various stages (which you probably know about), and I believe that Jeannette’s journey has similarities and differences with the archetypal hero’s journey. Jeannette at first lived in the ordinary world in the trailer camp (thewritersjourney). Then her “call to adventure” would have been the night when her dad told their family that they had to leave immediately(thewritersjourney). There wasn’t much hesitation from Jeannette, but she did leave her toy doll that she was mentally attached to. The “meeting a mentor” stage is somewhat absent, but she does come to a few realizations(thewritersjourney). For example, she started to question people in her family like when she said, “And that made me wonder if she was the one who’d stolen the can of corn the night before, which got me a little mad “(Walls 43). These small realizations are actually very crucial, as they influence the relationships between her and her family members. In my opinion, I would believe that Jeannette “crossed the threshold” when her family decided to go live with Rex’s family(thewritersjourney). I believe this is how the main character’s journey aligns with the hero’s journey. Based on this, I can also predict how the journey will evolve in the later half of this book.

Later in the book, I expect the archetypal hero’s journey to be continued. The main challenge has not really been shown, but I can tell that Jeannette doesn’t like Rex’s parents and is making connections between them and Rex’s personality. For example, Jeannette makes the connection between how difficult Rex’s parents act, and why Rex initially left Welch. I can also see the last step of the journey is  present as Jeannette’s success is shown (indicated by her apartment on Park Ave.).  

Works Cited:

Golden, Carl. The 12 Common Archetypes. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

“The Glass Castle Symbols from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes.” LitCharts. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

“The Hero’s Journey Outline.” Hero’s journey. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

Gr.12 University English as a Requirement

Making grade 12 university English a requirement to get into a university program is a very debatable topic. There are positive and negative effects for making it a requirement, but also for not making it a mandatory.

Image result for university program
Students studying in a university library

I believe that grade 12 university English should be a requirement for all university programs. There are various reasons why I believe that it should be a requirement. For example, the skills learned in grade 12 English may be useful in both the university program, but also may be useful in the workplace environment after university. Also, not being able to effectively and correctly communicate ideas to the professor of the program may negatively affect the student’s potential success.

Image result for university lab
A university chemistry laboratory

Yes, it is true that many writing skills will be taught in grade 12 university English, but where will those skills be used? In most science related programs, formal labs will have to be written. These formal labs include a lot of writing, and may take up hundreds of pages. If these labs are not written with clarity the professor may deduct a fair amount of marks as the important ideas have not been successfully communicated.

Image result for university textbook
Textbooks used in various university programs

Reading skills are also developed upon in grade 12 university English. Many programs require large very texts to be read and understood. Grade 12 university English will help students be able to comprehend advanced texts, and help them be able to take out the key ideas in large texts. These skills will not only be useful in university, but they will be useful in the work environment.

 

 

Image result for student talking to professor
A student talking to her professor

Oral skills are also learned by taking grade 12 university English. This can include listening skills, and those are very important. Someone may give specific instructions to a student in university, or a professional in a workplace, and if they do not follow those instructions the outcome will only have a negative effect. Oral skills also include talking to others. In university, and in the workplace people will have to talk to each other, and these conversations must be both professional, and clear.

If this was made a requirement, then the universities would not see as many issues with communication skills between the professors and students (reading, oral, and written). This ultimately will increase the success rate for the universities, which is good for them, but less people failing also means that less people are wasting their money on the programs by not succeeding.

References:

Cross, Mallory. “What Is the Importance of English for University Students?” Quora. , 5 June 2016. Web. 5 July 2017.

“ELC Blog | 4 reasons why learning English is so important.” ELC Schools. Web. 05 July 2017.
“E10alpha (Herve, Siu Chung, Junlin, Jingyi, Michael).” E10alpha Herve Siu Chung Junlin Jingyi Michael. N.p., 8 Nov. 2009. Web. 05 July 2017.