Sarah Koenig is back reporting on Adnan Syed

At the retrial, a woman has told the court she was dissuaded from providing an alibi


Serial’s second season is disappointing – which is a story for another moment. On the other hand, the drama of its first season continues to sustain us. Especially, as Sarah Koenig has paused in the middle of season two to start re-telling Adnan’s story.

Since the series was broadcast, the state of Maryland has reopened the case and this week, the hearing began. Presenter Sarah Koenig is back in Baltimore reporting, which sounds a bit like a very bleak school reunion, and creating new episodes for Serial. She discusses the first day of the trial and breaks down some of the more forensic detail of the case that we didn’t get the first time around.

The headline news is that Asia Chapman (who you likely remember as Asia McLean, and appeared mainly in the first few episodes of season one) has said that she was dissuaded from providing testimony on a potential alibi by the former prosecutor in the original case.

She says that she was in the library with Adnan on the day that Hae Min Lee was murdered in 1999. And she testified that the prosecutor from the case, Kevin Urick, later misrepresented one of their conversations, claiming that she had taken back her affidavit about this alibi (a statement delivered under oath). She says she stood by that affidavit.

According to Chapman, she left school at 10.45am on 13 January 1999 and went to Woodlawn Public library to wait for a boyfriend. But he was late, so she was there when school finished.  She told the hearing: “Shortly after 2:15, I was sitting there waiting for my ride and [Adnan] walked in and I was so glad to see someone I knew.”

She says that she and Syed sat at a table and talked for between 15 and 20 minutes until her boyfriend and one of his friends arrived. Those who have listened to Koenig’s forensic analysis of what a group of high school students were doing for about 20 minutes in 1999, will know that this was the period of time in which prosecutors believe Hae Min Lee was murdered.

When Asia heard that Adnan had been arrested, she went to his parents’ house to explain she had a possible alibi. She wrote two letters to Syed providing her contact details. However she says that no one from the defence team ever contacted her. She was persuaded by Serial to come forward.

One of the letters Asia sent Adnan, from March 1 1999

One of the letters Asia sent Adnan, from March 1 1999

“There was a lot of drama in the room when she was testifying,” Koenig said, and observed that it was surreal to hear Asia tell the courtroom that it was Serial that had impelled her to act. “She was very sure of herself and what she remembered,” Koenig said of McClain. “She came off really well for the defense.”

The case, and our prurient thrill in it, continues.