By Hans Sherrer
Las Vegas Tribune Exclusive
On February 8, 2016 a two-part investigative series about Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s case was broadcast on Las Vegas’ KVVU-TV (Fox Channel 5). Reporter Cyndi Lundeberg did a commendable job of trying to condense a case that has gone on for almost 15 years, and involves two trials and three Nevada Supreme Court appeals.
However, KVVU didn’t report on one of the most compelling aspects of Ms. Lobato’s case: Three days after her arrest on July 20, 2001, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office and the Metropolitan Police Department began obtaining evidence she wasn’t involved in Duran Bailey’s July 8, 2001 homicide next to a bank on Las Vegas’ Westside.
Ms. Lobato’s *habeas corpus* petition that seeks to overturn her 2006 convictions is currently being reviewed by the Nevada Supreme Court (NSC case no. 58913). The following facts are detailed in Ms. Lobato’s petition and other public documents related to her case.
Bailey’s crime scene was extremely bloody because he lost around two quarts of blood.
The 18-year-old Ms. Lobato gave a statement when she was arrested at her parents’ home in Panaca, by Metro Homicide Detectives Thomas Thowsen and James LaRochelle. Her statement describes that before mid-June 2001 she brandished her pocket knife to fend off an attempted rape in the parking lot of a Budget Suites Hotel in east Las Vegas. She described trying to cut him but didn’t know if she did so.
However, she doesn’t make a single mention in her statement that there was any blood on her, her clothing, or her car in which she fled from the man. That suggests he wasn’t bleeding.
The detectives assumed she was talking about the homicide of Bailey, whose penis was amputated. That was an incongruous assumption because she specifically said her assailant was alive when she escaped, and she described the incident as occurring weeks prior to Bailey’s death eight miles from where she was attacked.
On July 23, 2001 the DA’s Office filed first-degree murder charges against Ms. Lobato. The charges were based on Thowsen and LaRochelle’s Arrest Report which doesn’t state any evidence: that Ms. Lobato was at the scene of Bailey’s homicide; that she inflicted his fatal blunt force trauma head wound and contributory neck wound; or, that she was even in Las Vegas on the day he died.
On the afternoon of the 23rd the two detectives began their investigation to find evidence supporting the murder charge filed earlier that day. However, their investigation backfired by finding substantial evidence Ms. Lobato didn’t commit Bailey’s homicide.
Diann Parker lived 100 yards from the crime scene; she had reported being brutally beaten and raped by Bailey on July 1, 2001, and she was at the scene of Bailey’s homicide on the morning of July 9 while Metro officers were still investigating. The detectives informally questioned Parker on the 9th, but they didn’t take a statement or collect any evidence from her. On July 23 the detectives obtained a statement from Parker at her apartment. She admitted that on the
morning of July 9 *she had a bloody shirt and pants* that she had since washed — but she *forgot* to tell the detectives about her bloody clothes on the 9th. After Parker’s disclosure the detectives
made no effort to collect any evidence — not even her shirt and pants that may have still had traces of blood that could be tested to determine if it was Bailey’s — and they didn’t report her as a
On the afternoon of the 23rd the detectives also interviewed the first of eight witnesses who described an incident Ms. Lobato began talking about in late May 2001. She told the witnesses that in escaping from a would-be rapist in Las Vegas she used her pocket knife to try and cut his penis. None of the witnesses said they were told her assailant was killed. The eight witnesses are not related to Ms. Lobato, and she told each of them about the incident prior to July 8.
Yet, after the detectives belated investigation discovered compelling evidence they had arrested the wrong person, the DA’s Office didn’t dismiss the charges against Ms. Lobato. The DA’s Office went forward with her prosecution even after the exculpatory witness accounts were corroborated by tests of crime scene evidence that were negative for Ms. Lobato’s DNA, fingerprints, shoeprints, and car tire treads.
Furthermore, the Metro crime lab found none of Bailey’s blood in her car, on her shoes, or any personal item.
During Ms. Lobato’s 2006 trial Judge Valerie Vega didn’t allow the jury to hear any witness describe being told by Ms. Lobato that the attempted rape occurred weeks prior to Bailey’s homicide, and there was no testimony about Parker’s bloody clothing. The prosecution did not introduce any physical, forensic, eyewitness, or confession evidence that Ms. Lobato was at the crime scene, or even in Las Vegas on the day of Bailey’s homicide.
Ms. Lobato’s asserts in her “habeas” petition that Thowsen committed wholesale perjury during her trial to help the DA overcome the absence of incriminating evidence, and create the impression for the jury she wasn’t truthful in her statement. She asserts Thowsen fabricated testimony about at least four investigations related to her case that he didn’t conduct.
Ms. Lobato’s “habeas” petition states: “Under the principle of “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” (“false in one thing, false in everything”) everything that Thowsen testified to that is not corroborated by independent evidence should be disregarded as inherently untrustworthy.” (NSC, No. 58913, 6 App. 1275)
During the retrial Ms. Lobato seeks, a jury would be able to assess Thowsen’s credibility when his testimony is subjected to withering cross-examination. The jury would also be able to assess evidence by more than two-dozen witnesses supporting Ms. Lobato’s actual innocence, that her jury in 2006 didn’t hear.
After current District Attorney Steven Wolfson took office he doubled down on the previous DA’s policy of unrelenting opposing Kirstin Lobato’s efforts to be granted a new trial for crimes the DA’s Office and Metro PD have known since July 2001 she didn’t commit.
In spite of the wrong person being arrested, charged, and convicted of Bailey’s homicide, Ms. Lobato remains imprisoned at FMWCC serving a 13 to 35 year sentence.
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Hans Sherrer is President of the Justice Institute based in Seattle, Washington that conducted a post-conviction investigation of Ms. Lobato’s case, and promotes awareness of wrongful convictions. Its website is, www.justicedenied.org.