Asia McClain, AKA Adnan Syed’s Alibi Witness, Is Writing A Book!
Big news, Serial fans and #FreeAdnan supporters: Asia McClain has written a book about her role as an alibi witness in Adnan Syed’s case, to be published by Post Hill Press on June 7. For those of you who weren’t able to attend the post-conviction relief hearing in February, when McClain finally testified, may I suggest preordering Confessions of a Serial Alibi, um, NOW?
McClain (now Asia McClain Chapman) was a classmate of Syed’s at Baltimore’s Woodlawn High School on January 13, 1999, the day Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend, went missing and was presumed to have been killed (her body was discovered less than a month later). When Syed was he was arrested for her murder, McClain immediately recalled talking with him at the public library on the school’s campus the day Lee disappeared. Despite doing her due diligence to make Syed aware that she would be able to help account for a portion of his whereabouts that afternoon, McClain never heard from his attorney and assumed the information wasn’t relevant. Little did she know that she was the one person who could provide Syed with an alibi and that her testimony might have changed the jury’s verdict.
For over 18 years, McClain has held on to the crystal clear memory of seeing Syed that day in the library and talking with him for about 15-20 minutes, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that she finally got to tell her story in court. At a post-conviction relief hearing in February, McClain took the stand and recounted not just the details of her conversation with Syed in 1999, but the steps she took to inform him, including writing him two detailed letters in the days after his arrest. She also testified about writing a affidavit at the request of Rabia Chaudry a year after Syed’s conviction, and a phone conversation she had with prosecutor Kevin Urick many years after that, in which he dissuaded her from responding to the defense’s efforts to contact her. Urick later testified at a hearing that McClain told him she only signed the affidavit under pressure from Syed’s family, which Serial’s Sarah Koenig noted in an episode of the popular podcast. McClain testified that when she listened to Serial, she was shocked to discover that not only had Urick lied under oath about their conversation, but that her testimony might have been the key to Syed’s defense all along.
I was present in the courtroom for all five days of Syed’s post-conviction hearing, and watched as McClain, who is married, lives on the West Coast and is pregnant with her third child, finally took the stand. I found her to be utterly compelling, reliable and convincing, and agreed with legal expert Dave Irwin when he stated that, had she been called to testify in 1999, McClain’s testimony would have been a “game-changer.” Judge Martin Welch is still reviewing the evidence, testimony and case law, and has yet to deliver his verdict on whether to grant Syed a new trial based on the defense’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Naturally, McClain’s testimony was not without controversy. There are those who continue to insist on Syed’s guilt, despite a lack of physical evidence, a timeline that makes no sense, debunked cell tower evidence and an eye witness who has changed his story at least four times. They, like Deputy District Attorney Thiru Vignarajah, who represented the State during February’s hearing, would have you believe that McClain is lying, that she and Syed hatched this plan to falsify an alibi 18 years ago – and are only following through on it now, I guess? Since testifying in February, McClain has been heralded as a hero – but she’s also seen her fair share of hate from those who question her motives, her memory and her honesty.
Confessions of a Serial Alibi, will hopefully put an end to speculation and give McClain’s full account of her role in this headline-making case. I, for one, cannot wait to read it.
Photo: Danielle Mize