Adnan Syed’s Post-Conviction Hearing, Day 5: Closing Arguments & Final Thoughts
On Day 4, the defense and State rested — it sounds so Biblical — and on Day 5, after declining any rebuttal witnesses, both sides presented their closing arguments.
Closing Argument: C. Justin Brown, defense attorney for Adnan Syed
Brown began by thanking Judge Welch for his patience and coming out of retirement to oversee these proceedings. Brown has been Syed’s attorney for seven years, and, while standing behind Syed with his hands on his prison blue-clad shoulders, he stated, “I am proud to represent this man.” I want to take a moment to say how much I appreciated Brown saying this. One of the more difficult things about attending this post-conviction hearing was listening to the prosecution describe Syed as a merciless killer, who murdered his ex-girlfriend because she had moved on with another man. I believe so very deeply in Adnan’s innocence, having studied this case pretty goddamn thoroughly, and after meeting his family and friends, I am even more sure. I found it almost painful at times hearing Syed described as almost cartoonishly evil, so I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for the people who know him personally. To have Brown acknowledge that Syed is someone he is PROUD to stand up for was moving; it was a reminder that he is a human being who is incredibly important to many people.
“This case is really a battle of two witnesses,” Brown said. “Two witnesses who are emblematic of our case and the State’s case. Those two witnesses are Michelle Hamiel and Steve the security guard.” He went on to say that Hamiel got on the witness stand and testified that she was “100 percent sure” that there was indeed a video camera inside the Woodlawn Public Library in 1999, because she, as the branch manager, was the one who changed the tape in the camera every morning.
“Now, contrast her testimony to Steve the security guard’s testimony,” Brown said, making sure to add that – despite the allegations of “cyber-bullying” — he really liked the guy, because he was brave enough to get up on the stand and admit to his uncertainty. Steve testified that despite what the detective wrote in that signed statement, he was not sure whether or not there was a camera — he didn’t think so, but it’s possible there was. He was brave enough to tell the truth, even though that was different than perhaps what the State expected from him. (Chad Fitzgerald could learn a thing or two about being an honest witness from “Useless” Steve.) As a result, one of the State’s two witnesses ended up being “a great witness for us,” Brown said.
But Brown’s point was that each and every witness the defense put on the stand — from Phil Dantes, to Asia McClain, to Gerald Grant, to Dave Irwin – was confident in their testimony, they had firm answers, they knew with certainty the things they were testifying to. On the other hand, the State’s witnesses — all two of them — either didn’t have any information (like Steve) or went out of their way to not answer any questions that did not directly fall in line with the State’s case.
“This whole time, the State and Mr. Vignarajah have been trying their hardest to fit a square peg into a round hole,” Brown said. “While the defense has been dealing facts,” the State was asking hypothetical questions about “spaceships and the moon.”
Moving on to the cell tower evidence, which Brown called a “complicated issue that’s actually quite simple,” he reiterated perhaps the most important fact which demolishes any argument the State tried to put forth — Abe Waranowitz, the State’s original cell expert in Syed’s 1999/2000 trial, has submitted not one, but TWO affidavits (the second was submitted that morning, to clarify a few points that the State had tried to misconstrue), saying that had he seen the fax cover sheet with its instructions on how to read subscriber activity reports, “he would not have affirmed the reliability of the incoming phone calls.”
“That’s engineer talk for recanting his testimony,” Brown emphasized. “This is the same evidence that the State keeps talking about over and over again as being reliable.”
Both sides called their own experts to testify to this issue, but the defense’s expert, Gerald Grant, “answered the questions he was asked, and if he didn’t know, he said, ‘I don’t know.’ He was very credible,” Brown stated. As for Chad Fitzgerald, the State’s expert from the FBI? “He wouldn’t answer any of my questions unless he thought it would help the State’s case.”
“Both experts agree that there is something wrong with the incoming calls,” Brown said. “They just disagree on what that problem is. The State has tried to argue that [the warning] only applies to subscriber activity reports, and that exhibit 15 is not a subscriber activity report.” Brown grabbed the State’s own foam-core displays, showing the judge how they were designed to mislead, as the display showing the calls and their associated cell tower sites was deliberately divorced from its source document, which on the last page says at the very top in all caps, SUBSCRIBER ACTIVITY REPORT.
Moving on, Brown returned to the problem of the incoming calls, pointing to the example he used from Syed’s call log on January 16, with one call pinging a tower on Woodlawn Dr. in Baltimore, and another incoming call, just 26 minutes later, pinging the Dupont Circle tower in Washington, D.C. which is at least a full hour away. Acknowledging that the calls placed on January 16 have nothing to do with this actual case, Brown emphasized that this is an example which proves that there is something wrong with incoming calls and their tower locations, just as the fax coversheet instructions warn.
“Chad Fitzgerald tried to propose an explanation for this discrepancy, saying that it had something to do with the subways,” Brown said, referencing Fitzgerald’s suggestion that the Dupont Circle tower was a subway stop that would be pinged by any incoming calls receiving along that route, conveniently choosing the Glen Mount stop, which is the closest stop to Woodlawn Drive, as Syed’s likely location when he received that call.
“But there are still two problems with that theory,” Brown said. “Even if the phone was at Glen Mount, that is still 45 minutes away from Woodlawn Drive,” meaning it doesn’t explain how that tower could be pinged only 26 minutes later. “And the other problem is, the incoming call data is still not accurate!”
Seriously, this part is so maddening to me. The State’s own cell expert’s testimony only made the incoming call issue even more unreliable. The subscriber activity report says the incoming call hit the Dupont Circle tower, so Fitzgerald’s argument was that Syed was actually at an entirely different location? How does that make the incoming call locations accurate?!
“No matter how obstinate he may be,” Brown said, “it’s still trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.” He went on, “When Abe Waranowitz took the witness stand in 2000, he didn’t understand what was going on, he had no time to study the reports and they did not provide him with all the records. The State hung him out to dry. If he had that coversheet in 2000, the two incoming calls playing Adnan Syed in Leakin Park at the time of Hae Min Lee’s alleged burial would not have made it in.”
Brown said that in addition to massively undermining the State’s case against Syed, the cell site issue also supported the defense’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel by Cristina Gutierrez. “The State says they had an open file policy,” Brown argued. “But even if she did have access, she didn’t get everything she needed.”
“I showed Fitzgerald Exhibit 40 and he got furious,” Brown continued, citing the agent’s temper tantrum during cross-examination. “He realized that the way this document is photocopied and cropped makes it useless. He admitted that it’s an important document in this case, but he can’t understand it without knowing the dates and times. The problem is, that the exact copy found in Cristina Gutierrez’s file. … That’s what she had to work with, and it shows that she did not understand the cell records.”
Next, Brown moved on to arguably the defense’s star witness, Asia McClain, and her alibi testimony. “Some facts are stubborn, and no matter how much you try to scrub them, they won’t go away. Asia McClain saw Adnan Syed in the library after school at precisely the time Hae Min Lee was killed according to Jay Wilds. The State can scramble to create a new timeline 17 years later, but it doesn’t work that way.” (Oh, Thiru disagrees, but we’ll get to his closing statement in a second.)
Brown said that at the very latest, as of July 13, 1999, Gutierrez was on notice of McClain as a potential alibi witness – there are notes from a law clerk in the defense’s files. “Yet nobody from Gutierrez’s legal defense team ever spoke to Asia McClain. That evidence has not been shaken. At the end of the day, a mistake was made in not talking to Asia.”
While Judge Welch resisted the defense’s efforts to include supporting evidence of Gutierrez’s failing health and the impact it had on her abilities as a lawyer, Brown insisted in his closing that this information provides context for their claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. He said he believes that Gutierrez tried, that she wanted to win this case, that she was a fighter, but there was something wrong and there were plenty of red flags. He referred back to both Phil Dantes and Bill Kanwisher’s testimonies on Day 1, and how much they both clearly care about Gutierrez’s legacy – yet they still testified to the fact that she began having problems with her health and her business well before her disbarment in 2001, and her death in 2004.
“The State will argue that her file shows that Gutierrez was at the top of her game,” Brown said. “That’s what Mr. Vignarajah has been saying, not any actual witnesses. And comments by attorneys are not evidence.” LOL, oh just you wait, JB.
“Dave Irwin, who has been a defense attorney, looked at her files and he testified that it was disorganized,” Brown said. “There were lots of lists of things to do. But the best evidence is that Asia McClain, a diamond, slipped through the cracks.”
Try as they might, the State “cannot conjure up a strategic reason to not call an alibi witness to testify,” Brown said. “You can’t speculate as to why Gutierrez might have chosen not to ever call Asia McClain. If the State were allowed to just guess, Adnan Syed could never win.” He reiterated that Detective O’Shea’s testimony during trial – that Adnan said he went from school, to track practice, to the mosque, does not contradict McClain, because the library is on the school’s campus, and regardless of any inconsistencies between McClain and Syed’s stories, per Irwin’s testimony, Gutierrez still had an obligation to investigate. Just because Gutierrez submitted an alibi notice with 83 other names on it does not lock a defense attorney into a strategy or absolve her of her responsibility.
Moving on to Thiru’s vague reference to a guy named “Ju’uan” telling a police officer that Syed asked Asia “to type up a letter” for him, Brown brought out Ju’uan’s own affidavit, which attests to the fact that his comment had nothing to do with some plot to concoct a fake alibi — he was referring to Syed seeking character letters for his bail hearing. And besides, “I can assure Your Honor, the detectives would have followed up with Ju’uan if they really thought something shady was going on. The State has to prove it, not just give us conjecture.”
And that’s the thing, isn’t it. The State failed to PROVE anything. “It would have been nice to hear something,” Brown said. “They called two witnesses! Steve the security guy and Agent Chad Fitzgerald.” His tone was quite rightly dismissive of those two witnesses’ impact.
Returning to the subject of Gutierrez, Brown said, “There are no fewer than 70 cases that say a defense attorney must interview and investigate an alibi witness before making a strategic decision about whether to call them to testify. Asia McClain is as close to perfect a defense witness as you get. If Adnan Syed was with Asia McClain in the library on January 13, 1999, he could not have killed Hae Min Lee.”
“So the question, Your Honor,” Brown said, facing Judge Welch, “was Asia McClain good enough for you? Strickland vs. Washington says that if there’s a reasonable probability that a trial’s outcome was impacted by a defense attorney’s failures, their client has been denied their right to a constitutional defense. In 2016, Asia McClain was a compelling witness, a diamond. Seventeen years ago, she would have been a diamond in the rough.” He said that McClain didn’t embellish or exaggerate, the little facts in her letters and testimony — like the fight with her boyfriend, the two snow days on January 14 and 15, her reflection on Syed’s “calm demeanor,” the notes she took during her call with Kevin Urick, her repeated questions about there being a security camera in the library — all point to her credibility. All these years, “she just didn’t know how significant” her recollection of January 13, 1999 actually was.
“Asia McClain does not have a dog in this fight,” Brown said, reminding the judge that McClain now lives on the West Coast, is married and has two kids with a third on the way. “She doesn’t speak to Adnan Syed, she didn’t really know Hae Min Lee, yet she flew here to be skewered on the witness stand — why? ‘Because it’s the right thing to do.’ Dave Irwin said he’s spent his career looking for ‘his Asia McClain,’ she’s just that credible.”
All of the State’s attempts to poke holes in McClain’s testimony, even under duress, failed. “Mr. Vignarajah cross-examined Asia McClain until she started crying, but she maintained her credibility throughout. She could have changed the outcome of this case in 1999.”
As for the Vignarajah’s assertion that Gutierrez was not failing in her duties by ignoring McClain, Brown demanded to know where the testimony was to support that notion. “The State called two witnesses!” he exclaimed. “If you want to argue that it’s okay to not contact an alibi witness, put someone on the stand to testify to that.”
As for his efforts on behalf of Adnan Syed, Brown was firm in his belief that he and his co-counsel, Chris Nieto, had made their case. “Brown said. “We put Asia McClain on the witness stand, we corroborate her testimony, Dave Irwin spoke about her significance in this case — we did exactly what we said we would do. We proved our case, Your Honor.”
Closing Argument: Deputy Attorney General Thiruvendran Vignarajah, on behalf of the State of Maryland
Some context: Brown’s closing argument lasted, oh, an hour and 15 minutes, I’d say. Thiru’s, on the other hand, took well over two hours. Why? Well, because he needed that much time to actually make the State’s case — which included offering up a new theory of his own – since his two witnesses did not.
As Thiru put it, Adnan Syed has now “had his second day in court.” Despite a “passionate and vigorous defense” by Cristina Gutierrez, “Syed was convicted by a jury of his peers thanks to overwhelming evidence and witnesses. He did it,” Thiru said. “Nothing that has been marshaled in the course of this remand changes that.”
Nevertheless, Thiru said he was glad the hearing happened, despite the State’s opposition, because “this is an opportunity to instill a little more faith in the justice system.”
Thiru then said to the judge that he wanted him to consider four questions as he deliberates the merits of the defense’s request for a new trial. He did not actually list four questions – I think maybe there was one: “Was Gutierrez ineffective?” – before he began rambling down one of many detours in his exhaustingly verbose closing statement. Here are a few short quotes from those detours:
- The defense’s argument that there was a Brady violation “was just an excuse to get their evidence in front of a judge”
- The fax cover sheet instruction “did not refer to cell sites”
- Gutierrez’s defense of Syed showed her “Herculean efforts”
- He referred menacingly to Asia McClain as having “surfaced — a diamond in the rough mind from some dark cave”
Thiru maintained with arrogant confidence that the intuition Judge Welch had during the last PCP hearing “was not diluted by a broader record” presented during this hearing, “it was reinforced.”
Thiru argued vehemently that Gutierrez was a stellar attorney who even Syed himself wanted to keep early on, when the State tried to have her removed during the grand jury proceedings. If the defense wanted to prove ineffective assistance of counsel, it was “their burden to produce witnesses.” He said, “They could have called the other members of Gutierrez’s defense team, but they didn’t” — though it’s worth noting that if Thiru wanted to prove that Gutierrez was a “Herculean” attorney “at the top of her game,” the State could have also called those same people, but chose not to either, relying on Thiru’s word instead. He went on to say that her name has been “smeared” as “a vehicle for the defense to make their case, and that’s unfair.” Still, Thiru said, “She’s probably smiling.”
Thiru went on to laud Gutierrez for challenging the State’s cell site evidence “with lines of attack that are still used today,” forgetting to mention that during trial, Gutierrez actually told the judge, “I did not look at the cell phone records because I did not care.”
Turning to Judge Welch, Thiru decided to work his way back through the State’s original case against Syed in order to show prejudice — in other words, if Judge Welch is going to seriously consider giving Syed a new trial, he should know what an EVIL MURDERER he really is! Thiru skated over various hallmarks from the State’s original case, misconstruing certain details along the way, of course, making everything sound far more menacing than it actually was.
- “Adnan never told anyone he asked Hae for a ride” (he actually asked Hae for a ride in front of Krista — later, Aisha overheard Hae tell Adnan she couldn’t give anyone a ride because “something had come up”)
- Adnan wrote “I’m going to kill” on the back of Hae’s breakup letter (also on the back of Hae’s letter were notes exchanged between Syed and Asia’s best friend Aisha during health class — and there’s no evidence that supports the notion that Syed was referring to Lee)
- Syed procured a cell phone the week of the murder and, gasp, called Lee the night before to give her his phone number (uh, so?)
Thiru then started to distance his argument away from the State’s original timeline, though without making explicit reference to Jay Wilds testimony about the 2:36 call that signaled Hae was dead. Instead, Thiru said that Gutierrez noticed “wrinkles in the State’s case,” namely that Debbie Warren and Inez Butler testified to seeing Lee at school at 3 p.m. This is actually not entirely true — Inez said that Lee left school around 2:15-2:20. And Warren testified during Syed’s first trial, which ended in a mistrial not a conviction.
But like I said, Thiru never stayed on one train of thought for very long, and he diverted back to heralding Gutierrez’s fondness for to do lists and paperwork as evidence of her Herculean efforts in Syed’s defense. She wrote a response to the State’s disclosure about Abe Waranowitz! She had the State’s disclosures about the cell tower evidence! She had a staggering number of discovery requests! She had mountains of (disorganized) paperwork, much of which was handled by interns!
But then in order to refute the defense’s claim that Kevin Urick committed a Brady violation by withholding the subscriber activity report instructions, Thiru argued that Gutierrez haddddd access to all the same paperwork as the State and she COULD have used it to attack the cell tower evidence at trial. But she didn’t. Really, this just reinforces the defense’s position that if Urick did not withhold the fax cover sheet from the defense — never mind the fact that he withheld it from his own expert — that means Gutierrez did not do her due diligence in adequately investigating the cell tower evidence, which was basically half the State’s case. So which is it? Urick committed a Brady violation? Or Gutierrez was ineffective?
As for accusations that Prosecutor Kevin Urick committed prosecutorial misconduct in his conversations with Asia McClain? Thiru is offended by the notion! Urick just told McClain what he knew about where the case was at when she called him in 2010. He was being helpful! He had no idea who McClain was, after all. (When she told him that she wondered if the defense’s visit to her house “was about seeing Adnan at the library the day Hae died,” I’m so sure it went in one ear and out the other.) And as for Urick’s testimony in 2012 that McClain told him that she only wrote her affidavit “under pressure from the Syed family” — well, Asia herself testified that when Rabia Chaudry visited her in 2000 and asked her if she would write an affidavit, she was vaguely irritated because she was on her way to meet her boyfriend. She was irritated! TOTALLY THE SAME AS “UNDER PRESSURE.” Isn’t it wonderful that the Deputy Attorney General is so unconcerned with claims that a prosecutor LIED ON THE WITNESS STAND that he’s not even really refuting it? That he didn’t actually call Urick to testify and defend himself? That. Speaks. VOLUMES.
Thiru then moved on to touting his top notch cell tower expert, FBI agent Chad Fitzgerald, who he said “provided confidence” that the cell tower testimony in the original trial was accurate and reliable.
“I think Mr. Brown’s argument with the incoming calls on January 16th was to show an inconsistency in the records that would cast doubt on all the other incoming calls in the records, including those on January 13th,” Thiru said.
“It is,” Brown quipped.
“But it’s not a very good one,” Thiru continued. Uh. Okay. This is where I admittedly started to go a little nuts, because while I can tolerate listening to hours of technologically sound arguments about cell tower analysis, I do not have the same patience for absolutely ridiculous claims that defy common sense. So I doodled this instead, which I believe to be more accurate that Fitzgerald’s analysis of Syed’s records.
Then it was back to discussing Gutierrez, and Thiru’s belief that she did not have an “absolute duty” to investigate McClain as a potential alibi witness, because McClain’s March 1 and March 2 letters were rife with so many red flags that who could blame Gutierrez for tossing them aside? For example, if McClain wrote Syed a letter in the evening on March 1, WHY ON EARTH would she write him another letter the next day?! WHO DOES THAT? WHO WRITES TWO LETTERS IN TWO DAYS, OMG. And who starts handwriting a letter only to type it up that night, adding in new information she learned during the course of the day? That’s crazy talk. Who could believe that?!?! NOT THIRUVENDRAN VIGNARAJAH!
And the language McClain uses in both her letters – could it beeeee more obvious that she was participating in a grand conspiracy to fake an alibi? Thiru pointed to “the contingent nature of the promise” McClain made to help account for Syed’s whereabouts during the afternoon of January 13. She was offering to cover for him between the hours of 2:15 and 8pm! That is, if you read that particular sentence without any understanding of grammar. Asia wrote:
“I will try my best to help you account for some of your unwitnessed, unaccountable lost time (2:15-8:00; January 13)”
Key word: some. Not all. The 2:15-8:00 refers to the totality of Syed’s “unwitnessed, unaccountable time,” not the totality of what McClain was offering to help account for. DUH.
(At this point, my notes devolved into all caps chicken scratch RAGE, by the way.)
So anyway, Thiru went on to say that all these “red flags” no doubt made Gutierrez decide, as he put it, “I should probably approach this [witness] with some skepticism.” The problem with this, beyond the ridiculousness of considering any of these things to be “red flags,” is that Gutierrez didn’t approach McClain with skepticism – because she NEVER APPROACHED HER AT ALL.
Alright, so after all of that, Thiru then decided to drop the bombshell theory he had been kinnnnnnnda sortaaaaa hinting at all week as he implied that Gutierrez might not have pursued McClain because it conflicted with some other strategy — that she had some BIG IMPORTANT reason for not ever contacting Asia McClain.
That theory is this: WHAT IF Gutierrez knew there were witnesses that said Hae Min Lee was still at school at 3 p.m.? (He did not explain how Gutierrez would know that prior to the first trial, when Debbie testified, which is well after she was on notice of McClain.) What if Gutierrez didn’t want to place Syed at the library, because the State would argue that Lee picked up Syed from the library after his conversation with McClain and THEN he killed her?! See! See what Thiru was getting at when he kept implying that McClain might have actually HURT Gutierrez’s defense?! ISN’T YOUR MIND BLOWN?!
No. Actually. It is not. For starters, Thiru seems to forget that there were TWO trials, and by the second trial, Gutierrez knew the State’s timeline had Adnan killing Hae by 2:36, when he called Jay to tell him to pick him up from the Best Buy. And which is it? Is McClain faking her alibi testimony or did she really see Syed at the library? Thiru also admonished the defense for their claim that Gutierrez never checked to find out if the library had security cameras, when the 1999 defense investigator billing notes show that Useless Steve was interviewed on March 3. But this whole time Thiru had been arguing that McClain’s March 2 letter, which tipped Syed off to the camera in the library, was forged and written well after March 2. WHICH IS IT?!?!?!?!
To be perfectly honest with you, there was more, but NONE OF IT MATTERS. It’s all just speculation from the mouth of the prosecutor — there are no witnesses who testified to much of what Thiru said in his closing statement, there is no evidence to support it. In fact, Thiru summed it up perfectly himself, so I’ll leave you with this as his final quote:
“I dunno. It’s just a theory.”
Defense’s Rebuttal: Alright, so after Thiru was done hosting storytime, Brown offered his rebuttal, calling Thiru’s version of the facts “well spun recitation.” Of Thiru’s claims that Gutierrez’s files point to her vigorous efforts to defend Syed, Brown said that all of that paperwork is “not a measure of her as lawyer” and “does not make her effective.” If Thiru wanted to prove that Gutierrez did a great job as Syed’s defense attorney, then he should have called a great defense attorney to testify to that.
“In the end, it’s not what Gutierrez did in this case that matters,” Brown stated. “It’s what she didn’t do.”
As for Thiru’s defense of Kevin Urick, Brown did not hold back.
“Mr. Urick got on the witness stand an swore under oath that Asia McClain told him she’d been pressured to write her affidavit. A large body of evidence shows that is a lie. If you’re going to stand by that, put Urick on the witness stand. When Mr. Urick doesn’t come to court, I have to wonder about that. It scares me and it should scare everyone in this courtroom.”
The same goes for Thiru’s interpretation of the prosecution’s “open file policy,” which Urick could have testified too. Instead, the Judge is being asked to take Thiru’s word for it — to take his word for it that Gutierrez was a great defense attorney for Syed, to take his word for it that the prosecution had an open file policy, and to take his word for it that his BRAND NEW THEORY as to Gutierrez’s strategy in NOT calling McClain, which relies on an entirely different time of death for Lee than the one presented at trial, is a plausible one.
“Everyone in this courtroom has a duty to get to the bottom of the truth,” Brown said. “There are problems with the incoming calls. Abe Waranowitz has recanted his testimony about those calls. I don’t care how big the State’s poster boards are, this undermines the confidence the court should have in that evidence.”
As for Thiru’s conspiracy theory? “That is the most convoluted theory I’ve ever heard,” Brown said. “We’re in all new terrain with this one. That was a theory from a clever man trying to get through this inquiry without putting one witness to support it on the stand. All of this comes from a PROSECUTOR, whose only goal is to win win win.”
“Well, we’re not in the business of conspiracy theories, Judge,” Brown said.
At that point, Judge Welch asked Brown to wrap things up, and said he would be making his decision at a later date, and would release it in written form. It could be days, weeks or months, but trust that I will update all of you as soon as I hear. I think the defense did an absolutely stupendous job making their case for a retrial. I thought Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah was an absolute disgrace. If his goal was to help instill more confidence in the justice system, he utterly failed. After watching a prosecutor like Thiru in action, I have even less faith in the justice system than ever before, and I intend to write a letter to Judge Welch saying as much.
I leave you now, with two clips. The first is from the short press conference Thiru held out in front of the courthouse after the hearing wrapped. I think my face throughout speaks for itself.
The second shows Justin Brown reading a statement from Adnan Syed, which I actually watched him write while the lawyers were making their closing arguments. It took him awhile because his hands were cuffed. My hope is that in the not too distant future, we will hear his own voice declaring that he is finally, at long last, FREE.