The Intercept has published its interview with Kevin Urick, the lead prosecutor in the case featured on Serial. Urick declined an interview with Serial host Sarah Koenig, but after the podcast’s first season ended, agreed to an interview with The Intercept, following in the footsteps of key witness Jay Wilds.
“The case itself I would say was pretty much a run-of-the-mill domestic violence murder,” said Urick of Maryland’s case against Adnan Syed for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.
Both the article and Urick’s interview touch on Koenig’s Serial storytelling techniques. “The reality is that Serial only worked if it could demonstrate that there were serious doubts about the fairness of Syed’s trial and conviction,” the article stated. “If he were guilty, there was no story.” Reporters Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Ken Silverstein also wrote that Serial‘s “storytelling device was to amplify claims that favored Syed’s defense and contrast that with a watered-down version of the state’s case.”
The Intercept reporters added that Koenig’s “underwhelming efforts” to speak with Urick were the “most troubling part” of the podcast. Urick claimed Koenig only emailed him during the last week of the podcast, on Dec. 12. Serial‘s executive producer Julie Snyder told the publication, “We reached out to Kevin Urick multiple times, at multiple locations, during the winter of 2014, about nine months before the podcast began airing. Urick did not respond to any of those interview requests.” Urick denied Snyder’s account.
Urick stands by the state’s case against Syed, despite inconsistencies in key witness Wilds’ story, which was a focal point of Serial. “The reason is that once you understood the cellphone records, in conjunction with Jay’s testimony, it became a very strong case,” he said. He added that people “very seldom tell the same story the same way twice” and that almost all of Wilds’ inconsistencies involve collateral, rather than material, facts.
“We take our witnesses as we find them,” said Urick. “We did not pick Jay to be Adnan’s accomplice. Adnan picked Jay.”
During the podcast, Koenig often brought up Syed’s cellphone log discussed at his trial, which was used to corroborate Wilds’ testimony. Serial questioned whether the state used the cellphone records accurately and if the evidence could be used reliably. Urick said Koenig is trying to “implant doubts by sleight of hand” and is not accurately portraying how the state presented the evidence. He also provided a detailed account of why current cellphone technology criticism is not relevant to this particular case.
“It is disingenuous of Koenig to cite those criticisms of current cellphone technology and its use as courtroom evidence to try and imply that what we did was doubtful,” he said.
“Most of Koenig’s line of attack is to concentrate on areas we did not consider relevant and never really developed,” said Urick, adding, “For the relevant time period and the relevant events Koenig is unable to discredit us.”
Part two of Urick’s interview will touch on DNA evidence and jury polling.