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Why Nikisha Horton, Jay Wilds' Ex-Girlfriend, Matters In 'The Case Against Adnan Syed'

“I do think he knows ways to manipulate the law,” Nikisha Horton says of ex-boyfriend Jay Wilds in "The Case Against Adnan Syed."

By Ethan Harfenist

Update: On Sept. 19, 2022, a Baltimore judge ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning his conviction for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The move happened after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a motion to vacate Syed’s conviction, citing evidence that casts doubt on the original case. Read more about that evidence here.

In the wildly popular first season of "Serial," a podcast that debuted in 2014, millions of viewers learned about the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school senior Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was sentenced to life behind bars, but as the podcast showed, there has been doubt raised about Syed's conviction, especially as the crux of the case against him came from classmate Jay Wilds, who told police Syed murdered Lee. In HBO's new docu-series "The Case Against Adnan Syed," which re-examines Lee's murder, Wilds' testimony and its flaws are focused on yet again.

But despite his crucial role in both “Serial” and “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” Jay Wilds is notably absent in both (at least in early episodes of the docu-series). His voice only heard through police tapes and court testimony. However, the docu-series doesn't just go over the inconsistencies and contradictions in Wilds’ testimony. It also brings on Wilds' one-time girlfriend Nikisha Horton, who makes a crucial appearance in the second episode of the docu-series and sheds an important light on Wilds’ personality while bringing into further focus how potentially dubious his version of the story could be.

Toward the end of the episode, private investigators with Quest Research and Investigation (QRI) look into Wilds’ criminal history and interview Horton. According to online records, Horton, 42, is “self-employed” and still resides in Baltimore. She revealed during her interview with the investigators that she dated Wilds at one point in her life.

QRI found that Wilds now lives in California, and counts more than 20 arrests on his criminal record.

Among Wilds’ violations are a host of charges that stem from a domestic dispute he had with Horton while her young son was present back in April of 2009; Wilds, who Horton says was drunk at the time of the incident, was charged with second-degree assault, second-degree assault against police, and possession of loaded shotgun, among other things during the spat.

“He comes across as charming, but he can go from 0-100 really, really fast,” Horton says now of her ex-boyfriend in the docu-series.

But despite the serious charges against him, Horton maintains that Wilds got off relatively scot-free on the assault charges against him.

“I do think he knows ways to manipulate the law,” Horton says in the documentary.

Horton goes on to discuss a time in the past when she says she brought up the Lee murder case to her former partner. When she mentioned it to Wilds, “he quickly brushed it off: No ‘[I was an] an accessory,’ 'no, I did this, nothing,” Horton says. “It just makes me feel like, what else is he capable of from the situation that we’ve been through?"

Episode 2 ends with Horton placing a call to talk to Wilds about what happened back in 1999.

Maryland's highest court, meanwhile, denied a new trial for Syed earlier this month, according to The Associated Press.

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