Serial LogoFrom the makers of This American Life comes a new podcast which takes a decidedly old way of presenting a story by giving it to us in serialized format.  One bit at a time over a period of time.  This particular one is about the case of Adnan Sayed who was convicted of first degree murder in the State of Maryland in 1999 for the death of his ex-girlfriend.
The case is complicated and I won’t go into the various bits here however there is one issue which I need to write down and discuss, briefly before I can move on.  Please note that there are some spoilers going forward from here.  I highly recommend you go listen to all twelve episodes at before continuing.


In one of the episodes, the journalist and her producer attempt to produce the timeline from the point of view of the State’s case.  There is a hard time limit of 2:36pm (or thereabouts, I don’t have it in front of me) for the crime to have occurred following the release of school at 2:15pm.  They attempt to go from the classroom to the car to the other stops the victim was known to have made and end up in the BestBuy parking lot that the crime allegedly took place in.

I say allegely even though the case has been adjudicated because it just doesn’t work with the state’s timeline.

Anyway, after running the the entire gauntlet, they discover that there is just a minute and a half to commit the crime.  However, the rub occurs because the victim was manually strangulated – in other words, someone killed her with their bare hands.

  1. All of us have had CPR/First Aid training and it may have come up in those training that the brain has about 4.5 minutes of oxygen in it once blood supply is cut off.  That means that, conceivably, a person can continue to live for at least that period of time.  I found a range on the internet from three minutes to six minutes however.  Being that the victim in this case was 17 years old and in peak physical condition (or very near it), I think it is safe to assume that my mid-range number is probably close to the truth.
  2. As with anything having to do with strangulation or smothering, there is the fact the victim is naturally going to fight every step of the way during this process.  It is not an easy task to kill someone from either of these ways and requires a significant amount of constant strength of the course of this three to six minutes.
  3. This killing happened in a public parking lot not far from a busy street.  Granted, the journalists note that it was in a far reach of said lot, but that it was pretty public nonetheless.

Summarizing all this into a theory:  a minute in a half is in no way long enough to manually strangulate someone – especially across a car in a public parking lot without anyone noticing the vicious struggle that would have occurred.

Your thoughts?


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