‘Serial’ Podcast: The Season Is Over But The Controversies, Conflicting Statements, And Concerns Continue [UPDATE]

The Serial podcast resonated with listeners in a way perhaps no podcast has before. The story of Hae Min Lee, and Adnan Syed, who was convicted of her murder, but still maintains his innocence, constituted a 12-episode podcast that had listeners hanging onto every word, and counting down to the next episode.

The first season of Serial ended in December, but the public debate about the story hasn’t ended. If Rabia Chaudry (family friend to Adnan, now a lawyer seeking a new trial for him) hopes the podcast would garner public attention for the case, she got her wish. Here’s a rundown of some of the new information and controversy that has arisen since the Serial podcast ended.

Perhaps the biggest is that Jay Wilds, Adnan’s high school friend and the witness on whom Adnan’s conviction hinged, has come forward for an interview. During the Serial podcast, host Sarah Koehnig attempted to interview him, and did succeed in one brief conversation that she spoke of in the podcast, but that didn’t actually air.

Just before New Year’s Eve, though, Jay allowed The Intercept to interview him, and gave them some additional information. Among other things, he corrected his initial story about first seeing Hae’s body in the Best Buy parking lot — he says it was actually in front of his grandmother’s house, and that he lied both to protect her, and to protect the drug dealing he was doing from that location.

Rabia and Sarah have been accused of leaking Jay’s address and thus inviting harassment to him. They both deny this.

Another big issue is that Rabia Chaudry hints that she was less than happy with how the Serial podcast told the story. Among other things, Rabia takes issue with Koehnig referring to the cell phone records as solid evidence. The following is from Rabia’s blog.

“But what I cannot get over is how the Serial team continues to use the cell towers ‘pinged’ as gospel, a map showing exactly where the phone was at any given time.

“Julie says ‘I can see where the phone was moving’ at 30:05 of the episode. No Julie, no you can’t. Because cell phone pings are NOT a reliable indicator of where a phone is, and as I’ve explained in detail before, have been declared as inadmissible by courts around the country.”

Rabia has also set up a location to donate to Adnan’s legal fund.

On Sunday, Rabia tweeted yet more information: she says that while Sarah stated in the Serial podcast that phone records showed Adnan had never paged Hae, she admitted in a message to Rabia that the Serial team was never able to verify Hae’s pager number.

Sarah Koehnig has previously expressed a willingness to continue to follow the story if there were new developments, so, despite that Serial podcast has promised to cover a new story in its second season, it’s quite possible that those following Adnan’s story may find there’s still more to come.

UPDATE: Rabia has withdrawn claims that the pager information was never checked, saying that there was a misunderstanding in an email.