Kirstin Blaise Lobato was convicted in October 2006 of voluntary manslaughter and sexual penetration of a corpse. However, even though there is no evidence of Lobato committing this crime (including no eyewitnesses, a more than substantial alibi, false testimonies, and 150,000 supporters that have signed and stand behind Lobato’s innocence) Lobato still remains behind bars 11 years later.
In late May 2001, Lobato was attacked by a man who tried to sexually assault her. Lobato defended herself and stabbed the man in the groin. For the next several weeks, Lobato repeated the incident to friends and family. Like many rape incidents, there was no official charged filed and follow up to the attack.
Months later, Duran Bailey was found dead in Las Vegas only miles away from where Lobato’s attacker approached her. Through third person accounts, police heard of Lobato’s attempted rape incident and quickly arrested Lobato as the main suspect in the murder. At the time of the arrest Lobato was not informed of the circumstances, location, dates of details of the crime in which she was in custody for.
Lobato was initially offered a plea deal of three years, which she rejected because she had confidence and belief in the American Justice system.
The defense brought forth important and exculpatory evidence and alibi testimony on behalf of Lobato, clearly showing that the prosecution has little to no evidence to convict Lobato of manslaughter and penetration of a dead human body. It was made absolutely clear through evidence that Lobato was 170 miles away in her hometown of Panaca at the time of the crime. She passed a lie detector that was administered by a professional who Las Vegas prosecutors regularly use. According to the defense, there were four identifiable crime scene fingerprints, none of which matched Kirstin’s. There was also a bloody shoe print that was found next to the body, however, according to a footprint expert that testified at the trial, it came from a U.S men’s size 9 athletic shoe.
So with all this evidence supporting the defense, how has this woman been forced to spend the last the last 11 years? Lobato’s initial sentence was secured through a testimony of a jailhouse informant. The testimony of the informant was limited by the prosecutors and by Judge Vega. This was found to be a reversible error by the Nevada Supreme Court in 2004 and they remanded Lobato’s case back to the District Court for a new trial.
Again in 2006, at her second trial, important exculpatory evidence, alibi testimony, and DNA testing were limited. At this second trial, Police detective Thowsen falsely testified at the trial that she made up the story of the attempted rape. The DA’s office claims to the courts, press, and the public that Lobato confessed to the murder, but there was never a confession, her statement about being a victim of a sexual assault in May 2001 was misinterpreted and presented to the jurors as a statement about the murder of Duran Bailey in July 2001. Lobato was again charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, Deadly Weapon Enhancement and Sexual Penetration of a Dead Human Body and sentenced to 13-35 years. Lobato was given the maximum allowable sentence by Judge Verda of 35 years.
The one thing that can save Lobato from spending another decade in prison is DNA testing of 13 pieces of evidence that tested prior during the first two trials. Judge Vega has denied all new evidence including DNA testing and habeas corpus. Lobato’s petition for habeas corpus is currently pending before the Nevada Supreme Court. It includes new evidence, affidavits, expert testimony along with evidence of witness tampering and prosecutorial misconduct. Currently there are over 150,000 people that have shown support and signed a petition to allow DNA testing in the Lobato case. The Innocence project, an organization that has freed hundreds of innocent people from prison through their DNA testing work, has offered to pay for all the costs to test and re-rest the 13 pieces of evidence that are in question. However, Clark Court District Attorney Stephen Wolfson has denied the allowance of the testing.