Shrien Dewani. Amanda Knox. Adnan Syed. They hail from different walks of life, but a single correlation connects the three: they have been tormented by the trials and tribulations of the court of law. Scant justice overshadowed by the eye of evil- the power of persuasion through simple storytelling in court.
I've always held an intriguing curiosity for criminal justice... while it initially stemmed from watching fascinating criminal shows on television (ie America's Most Wanted) an alternate facet fixated my interest. After studying Forensics in high school and personally following high-profile cases, I learned of an increasingly popular discourse- exonerations that DO occur in the United States for the innocent, thanks to advanced DNA testing, further highlighted by the Innocence Project. By the way, it's a great cause and I urge you to check it out. Criminal law practitioners... check it out and become familiar with it!
I've also developed a strong riposte to the critics who affiliate guilt to any of the above three names- do not base your verdicts on emotions, eschewing presented evidence. Examine rock-hard evidence, look at patterns of behavior. Of course, I'm not a lawyer or investigator. However many legal experts would agree that, in each of these cases, a horrid caricature was concocted BY prosecution... an exaggeration that does not boil down to the basic ingredients the case began with!
It is in my firm opinion that all three are truly innocent of the crimes they were accused and convicted of. Court transcripts, documentaries, interviews, research studies, podcasts.. I've pored hours into analyzing whatever has been made publicly available, whatever I could grasp for each of the three cases, from the perspectives of both the defense and prosecution teams. Read on below for a brief synopsis.
In 2010, Shrien Dewani was accused of murdering his wife Anni Hindocha on their honeymoon trip in South Africa. Four years after the murder took place, in December of 2014, courts ruled there was not enough evidence to place a conviction on Shrien. It is true, there is not a single ounce that would tie Shrien to Anni's murder. What that translated to for the Dewanis were four years of torturous extradition hearings- a terrible living nightmare Shrien and his family had to ride around in, mourning the death of Anni and answering to the public's outcries of guilt.
This year, the coroner continues investigation into Anni's death and Shrien will most likely have to answer in a public questioning.
My belief? The newlywed Dewanis were targeted as a wealthy couple while vacationing and unfortunately were the pinpoint of a robbery gone awry. This documentary provides eye-opening insight into Dewani's innocence.
In 2007, Amanda Knox supposedly killed her roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy, while studying abroad. The murderer, a man with a criminal background, was caught and jailed. Italy prosecuters have boldly claimed that Amanda supposedly 'took part' in facilitating Kercher's death. That same year, Amanda was sent to jail for four years, after which she was finally acquitted. However, the nightmare did not end. In January 2014, a higher court in Italy convicted her.
This year, Amanda is set to return to Italy this year for an appeals hearing. It will then be decided whether another trial will launch for the killing of Kercher.
My belief? Amanda Knox found her roommate dead and Italian courts lumped together pieces of her personal life in Italy to essentially fabricate a motive for the crime.
In 1999, Adnan Syed was convicted of murdering ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, with no evidence directly linking him to the crime. The reason? A poor defense team and a prosecution who used racist tactics to drive the jury, based on a fabricated painting of the scene. The man who testified against Adnan, Jay Wilds, has changed his story three times.
My belief? Jay Wilds was rehearsed by investigators, and there is plenty of evidence to support this, believe it or not. Those who know me, know how strongly I believe that Adnan was victimized and received an unfair trial. I could go on and on about the numerous visible and hidden layers of this case, but I urge you to check out the Serial podcast. If you can't get enough, visit the blog of the woman who has launched the biggest awareness campaign for his case. Adnan's case has become a national 'phenomenon' thanks to the podcast Serial, which detailed the case week by week. It even includes recorded phone calls directly from prison, as well as key witnesses who were not asked to testify in trial! The podcast has been a useful social legal tool- it raised useful theories, spurred independent investigations across the country from listeners, and uncovered new evidence!
Adnan has been locked up for sixteen years, he is now a 33 year old man. This year, Adnan was granted a motion to appeal his case. I wrote to Adnan last month and received a heartwarming and thoughtful reply the day before this update. This Spring, a NYC fundraiser to help his legal defense costs, will take place. I hope to see you there! Check it out here. If you can't attend, then you can donate and sign the petition for his innocence. Remember, mass public attention has helped bring a once languishing case to a newly revived state, so be a part of the cause.