Adnan Syed, Subject of Popular Podcast "Serial," Wins A Motion to Appeal His Conviction

Also: one of the Vanderbilt rapists speaks up, same sex marriage in Alabama gets complicated, and Jon Stewart departs The Daily Show.
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Amanda Lauren
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Also: one of the Vanderbilt rapists speaks up, same sex marriage in Alabama gets complicated, and Jon Stewart departs The Daily Show.

The conviction of Vanderbilt University rapists Brandon Vandenberg and Corey Batey drew a lot of interest from xoNews Readers. Today, I have an update. Batey recently gave a jailhouse interview to Dr. Phil and his remarks to the television “doctor” (Dr. Phil McGraw is not a licensed psychologist) were interesting, to say the least. Plus, an update that Serial fans (and anyone who is interested in social justice) will be glad to know about. And Harper Lee addresses some recent rumors regarding the release of her new book Go Set A Watchman.

Has anyone listened to Serial? What do you think about Adnan Syed being granted the right to file an appeal? Do you think the new Samsung SmartTVs are just a little too smart? Discuss these or any news stories in the comments or tweet me directly @AmandaLauren.

Vanderbilt Rapist Goes On Dr. Phil

Corey Batey was recently convicted of aggravated rape for assaulting an unconscious and unnamed victim at Vanderbilt University, where he was a student in June 2013.

In an interview with Dr. Phil, Batey said he was sorry for what happened, but he was drunk and doesn’t remember what he did. When asked if he should receive a life sentence for his crime, he responded, “I don’t think I should.”

When asked about the fate of co-rapist Brandon Vandenberg, Batey said,

Honestly, I think he's a good kid. I think he just got caught up in some unfortunate circumstances. I think everyone deserves to be forgiven and to be given a second chance. I don't think that was a clear representation of him. I know that's not a clear representation of me.

Dr. Phil also questioned Batey about the specifics of the incident, such as why he urinated on the victim and why he laughed while she was being gang raped and sodomized by a plastic bottle. Again, he blamed alcohol for his actions,

I was drunk out of my mind so I don't think I was thinking. That's just not a clear representation of who I am. My whole life, I feel like I've always been a caring individual to look out for the helpless or the less fortunate... That just wasn't my heart. That just wasn't me.

Batey hopes the victim and her family can forgive him because the incident wasn’t demonstrative of his true character,

I wish she could really know the type of person I am. I hate that she had to see me in that light and think I’m that person, because I'm not. When I saw that stuff, I was just praying, I was just saying, “Lord just put it in her heart to forgive me, because that's not me. It’s just not me.” I wished I could take it all back. I wish there’s a button that, that I could just delete everything, but unfortunately there’s not. And I’m sorry she’s had to go through this... I just hope [her family] can find it in their heart to just forgive me.

Batey also discussed his own life, saying he was one of thirteen children raised by a single mother (his father died) and that if he had a strong male figure as a child, he would not have gang raped a fellow student. Batey now faces up to 60 years in prison and will be sentenced on March 6.

Adnan Syed Wins Motion To Appeal Murder Case

Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular podcast Serial, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and classmate, Hae Min Lee in 1998, has been granted an appeal. While the podcast didn’t prove Syed’s guilt or innocence, it did prove his counsel was ineffective.

During the trial, Syed had an alibi, classmate Asia McClain, who saw Syed in the library at the time the state believes he was murdering Lee. Syed’s attorney, Christina Gutierrez (who was disbarred a few years after the trial and passed away in 2004) did not call upon McClain nor did she consider a plea deal, which is something Syed says he might have taken, although he has always maintained his innocence. When McClain reached out to Syed’s defense in 2000, the prosecutor, Kevin Urick, tried to influence her to do otherwise. In a statement, McClain said,

[Urick responded to me] in a manner that seemed designed to get me to think Syed was guilty and that I should not bother participating in the case, by telling what I knew about January 13, 1999.

Fifteen years later, McClain broke her silence and filed a new affidavit,

After I learned about the podcast, I learned more about Koenig’s reporting, and more about the Syed case. I was shocked by the testimony of Kevin Urick and the podcast itself; however I came to understand my importance to the case. I realized I needed to step forward and make my story known to the court system.

Even prior to Serial, Syed’s attorneys have been trying for the past five years to get an appeal. But, this doesn’t mean a new trial will automatically be granted. In June, three judges will look at the facts and make that decision.

If You Were Trying To Get Hitched In Alabama This Week…

If you were trying to marry someone of the same sex in Alabama on Monday, you might not have been able to, despite a federal law, which struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage. So what happened? The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, told probate judges to defy the federal ruling and not to marry same-sex couples.

So, is what Moore did legal? Nope. According to Reverend Barry W. Lynn, who is the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State,

No official in Alabama has the right to ignore a federal court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Some zealots apparently believe they have the right to ignore laws they don’t like. They may soon find that they are very much mistaken.

Moore has a history of discriminating against LGBTQ people. In a 2002 ruling of a child custody case, he called homosexuality an “inherent evil”. When Moore campaigned in 2012, he said sex-marriage would be the “ultimate destruction” of the country. It should also be noted that Moore was removed from the bench in 2003 when he refused to obey a federal order and remove a large monument he erected of The Ten Commandments from a state courthouse.

But not all probate judges obeyed Moore, and as of Monday afternoon, judges in eight counties (covering over 40% of Alabama’s population) were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Headlines

· While many fans have been excited about the release of Harper Lee’s new book Go Set A Watchman, others have been concerned, believing the author was duped into signing off on it. Well, Lee wants you to know that’s just not true, addressing the rumor through a statement released by her attorney, “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to Watchman."

· Before a live studio audience on Tuesday, Jon Stewart announced he is retiring from The Daily Show at the end of 2015 after nearly 16 years as host. At least HBO has John Oliver.

· You know how when you sometimes watch television you talk about how you traffic in cocaine or plan to murder your annoying neighbor? Well, if you own one of those new Samsung SmartTVs, don’t do that because the television is recording everything you are saying and transmitting all the information to an unnamed third party. This feature is supposed to optimize the voice commands of the product, so if Downton Abby is suddenly DVRed when you were talking about going downtown to have brunch with your friend, Abby -- you know it’s working. And who would agree to this? Anyone who checks yes to agree to the privacy policy, without reading the fine print (so everyone who buys it). And if you already bought this television, are creeped out, but don’t want to return it, you can always disable the feature.