Alibi says prosecutor misled her about murder appeal featured in 'Serial' podcast

BALTIMORE -- An alibi witness for a convicted murderer profiled in the public radio podcast "Serial" testified Wednesday that a former Baltimore prosecutor misled her about the importance of her testimony and that he later gave a deceptive account of their conversation when he testified about it during a hearing.

See Full Article

Asia McClain, now known as Asia Chapman, testified Wednesday during a hearing for Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murder and is seeking a new trial in a case that was spotlighted by the popular podcast.

Chapman has said she saw Syed in a library within the time when prosecutors contend he was killing his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999. But McClain was never contacted by Syed's attorney to testify at his trial.

Chapman told the court that years after Syed was convicted, Syed's defence attorney, who was working on an appeal, visited her at her home and left a business card. She called then-prosecutor Kevin Urick because she figured he'd be less biased than the defence attorney.

During their 34-minute phone conversation, Chapman said she took detailed notes and Urick told her that Syed "killed that girl."

"I walked away feeling like (the defence) was trying to manipulate the court to get him in front of a judge," Chapman testified, adding that Urick convinced her that Syed "was 100 per cent guilty, and it was a waste of my time to get involved."

But she says Urick later testified at Syed's first post-conviction hearing that his phone call with her lasted only five minutes, and said that she'd told him that her affidavit was false.

"He said I told him everything I said in the affidavit was not true, that I wrote the affidavit because I was pressured," Chapman said of Urick's testimony. "All of this was news to me. I was in shock. I was angry that I had allowed my thoughts and opinions to be represented by a third party."

After learning of Urick's testimony Chapman said she requested her phone records and verified that her conversation with Urick lasted 34 minutes.

Chapman also said she would have come to court to testify even if she hadn't been subpoenaed.

"I felt it was the right thing to do," she said. "For justice to be served all information has to be on the table."

A message left at Urick's office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, Syed's attorney Justin Brown told Judge Martin Welch that previous defence attorney Cristina Gutierrez made a mistake in failing to call the alibi witness. But Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah said there were reasons to think the witness might be unreliable.

Vignarajah argued that Gutierrez was a dedicated and effective attorney, and that Syed was convicted not because his lawyer was incompetent, "but because he did it." Vignarajah added that Gutierrez made a decision not to pursue McClain as a witness.

"There were all sorts of reasons that this was not a reliable witness, and perhaps a risky witness," Vignarajah said.

But Brown linked the decision to personal problems that were plaguing Gutierrez, who was later disbarred in connection with other cases.

"At the time of the Syed case (Gutierrez) was unable to handle her cases," he said. "Her health was failing, her family was in turmoil. What was happening at her business, it was becoming unwound. As a result of the wheels coming off the bus, the single most important piece of evidence, an alibi witness, slipped through the cracks."

Syed was present in court, dressed in light blue prison garb, wearing a long beard and a knit cap. His hands were shackled. Spectators filled a row reserved for the public, including friends, supporters and members of Syed's family.

The case had been closed for years when producer Sarah Koenig, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, began examining it in the podcast in 2014, drawing millions of listeners each week.

The podcast raised questions about the fairness of Syed's trial, gained a cult following and uncovered evidence that helped prompt a Maryland appeals court to grant a hearing on the possibility of a new trial.

Syed's motion for a new trial also involves cell tower data that defence attorneys argue is inaccurate.

The state, too, will have a chance to call witnesses.

A motion filed Tuesday shows that prosecutors intend to call Urick and other members of the prosecution team. An FBI agent who specializes in cell tower data is also on the state's potential witness list, as is an expert in criminal defence practices.

At a news conference Wednesday, Vignarajah read aloud a statement from Lee's family, which has shied away from commenting on the case.

"We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her," it read.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Wonder Woman sequel gets a title: 'Wonder Woman II'

    Entertainment CTV News
    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Wonder Woman has a few reasons to celebrate. As of Sunday, the superhero pic is now the highest-grossing film of the summer with US$398 million from North American theaters, and the sequel is official. Source
  • Shakespeare's Globe names Michelle Terry artistic director

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON - Shakespeare's Globe -- London's open-air, Elizabethan-style playhouse -- has appointed Olivier Award-winning actress Michelle Terry as its new artistic director. The London theatre says Terry will take up the post in April 2018. Source
  • Richards: Rolling Stones working on new original album

    Entertainment CTV News
    While the band have released covers, live albums, compilations, and box sets in recent years, this will be the band's first original output since 2005. In late 2016, the Rolling Stones released an all-covers album of blues classics, “Blue & Lonesome. Source
  • 'Mother Nature's joined the debate': Al Gore returns with An Inconvenient Sequel

    Entertainment CBC News
    Torrential downpours, unbridled wildfires, massive storm surges, deadly droughts — dangerous, extreme weather events becoming commonplace are a wake-up call from Mother Nature, says Al Gore. "Mother Nature's joined the debate and all these extreme events related to climate have really awakened a lot of people [to climate change]," the former U.S. Source
  • Mike Tyson: 'I was molested as a child'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Boxer-turned-actor Mike Tyson has revealed a childhood molestation turned him into a fighting machine. The Hangover star was talking about his challenging childhood in Brooklyn, New York during an ESPN E:60 interview with old pal Jeremy Schapp when he let slip he had been the victim of a local pervert who dragged him into a building and “molested” him. Source
  • It's official: 'Wonder Woman II' is coming

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    SAN DIEGO — Wonder Woman has a few reasons to celebrate. As of Sunday, the superhero pic is now the highest-grossing film of the summer with $398 million from North American theatres, and the sequel is official. Source
  • Something was fishy about the Phelps vs. shark showdown

    Entertainment CBC News
    Michael Phelps is the fastest swimmer in the world. It would be a shame if something just turned up, out of the blue, to challenge his supremacy. Live look in at Michael Phelps preparing to battle his greatest opponent The Great White Shark#SharkWeek2017pic.twitter.com/l7Rc5T71Xf— @ScoutTeamRadio Source
  • Comic-Con hits: Black Panther, Batman, Stranger Things

    Entertainment CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- From "Black Panther" to Batman, "Stranger Things" to "Blade Runner 2049," and "Ready Player One" to Rep. John Lewis, Comic-Con had something for almost every pop-culture appetite. As the annual fan convention in San Diego wraps Sunday after four days of panels, presentations, screenings and autograph signings, here's a look at some of the highlights. Source
  • Discovery Channel’s Shark Week showdown featuring Michael Phelps race ends in loss for gold medal swimmer

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Olympic swimming icon Michael Phelps took on his greatest challenge ever in a Shark Week showdown. As the main attraction to The Discovery Channel’s annual event showcasing an endless schedule of shark-related programming, Phelps vowed to race a real-life shark. Source
  • 'Star Wars' fan clubs honour Carrie Fisher at Comic-Con

    Entertainment CTV News
    In this 1977 image provided by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation, from left, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill are shown in a scene from "Star Wars" movie, released by 20th Century-Fox. Fisher, who played Princess Leia in 'Star Wars,' has died at age 60, her daughter's publicist says. Source