Justice Denied (justicedenied.org)
Special for the Las Vegas Tribune
Kirstin Blaise Lobato has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in Las Vegas against the Metropolitan Police Department and former Detectives Thomas Thowsen and James LaRochelle. Her suit alleges Thowsen and LaRochelle were complying with standard Metro practices when they conspired to frame her for the July 8, 2001 homicide of Duran Bailey in Las Vegas. Thowsen and LaRochelle arrested the 18-year-old Lobato on July 20, 2001, and she was charged with first-degree murder.
Lobato served more than 15 years in prison for Bailey’s homicide before her release on January 3, 2018. Lobato was convicted in 2002 of murder, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned her convictions in 2004. She was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter after her retrial in 2006.
Her 2006 convictions were overturned in December 2017 and a new trial was ordered, based on new forensic evidence establishing Bailey died at a time when the prosecution conceded she was at her home in Panaca, 170 miles from Las Vegas. The Clark County DA declined to retry her and the charges were dismissed.
Lobato’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas alleges: “As a result of egregious misconduct by the Defendants [Metro, Thowsen and LaRochelle], Plaintiff Kirstin Blaise Lobato was wrongfully convicted of a murder that she did not commit.
Although Defendants knew that Plaintiff could not have committed the crime, they decided to pin the murder on her by, among other things, fabricating evidence, obtaining involuntary statements, and ignoring clear evidence of Plaintiff’s innocence. …
At the time that she was wrongfully framed for the murder, Plaintiff had just completed high school and had her whole life ahead of her.
Plaintiff was irreparably and immeasurably harmed when years of life were unjustly stolen from her. This lawsuit seeks a measure of redress for the wrongs done to Plaintiff, as well as to deter future misconduct.”
The following is a summary of the lawsuit’s claims: Count 1. Thowsen and LaRochelle conspired to force Lobato to
incriminate herself falsely and against her will.
Count 2. Thowsen and LaRochelle conspired to deprive Lobato of her constitutional right to due process and a fair trial by fabricating and soliciting false evidence, and withholding exculpatory evidence from Lobato and her prosecutors.
Count 3. Thowsen and LaRochelle conspired to accuse Lobato of criminal activity and exerted influence to initiate, continue, and perpetuate judicial proceedings against her without any probable cause and while knowing she was innocent.
Count 4. Thowsen and LaRochelle stood by without intervening to prevent the violation of Lobato’s constitutional rights, even though they had the opportunity to do so.
Count 5. Thowsen and LaRochelle, acting with other co-conspirators, reached an agreement to frame Lobato for a crime she did not commit.
Count 6. Thowsen and LaRochelle conspired with each other to maliciously institute or continue Lobato’s prosecution without probable cause.
Count 7. Thowsen and LaRochelle procured and exerted influence to continue the criminal proceeding against Lobato with an ulterior purpose other than resolving a legal dispute or resolving her guilt or innocence of Bailey’s murder.
Count 8. Thowsen and LaRochelle conspired to engage in extreme and outrageous conduct with the intention of, or with reckless disregard for, causing Lobato to suffer severe or extreme emotional distress.
Count 9. Thowsen and LaRochelle, acting with other known and unknown co-conspirators, conspired and intended to accomplish an unlawful objective for the purpose of harming Lobato, which resulted in damage to her.
Count 10. Nevada law provides that LVMPD is directed to pay any tort judgment for compensatory damages for which their employees are liable within the scope of their employment activities. Thowsen and LaRochelle were employees of the Defendant LVMPD and acted within the scope of their employment at all times relevant in committing the actions and omissions described in the lawsuit.
Thowsen and LaRochelle filed a response on September 13, 2019, that sought to have seven of the claims dismissed for legal or procedural reasons. The three claims they did not seek to dismiss — and which they may be willing to negotiate a settlement or go to trial for a jury to decide — are Count 2 (fabricating and withholding evidence, and inadequate investigation); Count 5 (conspiracy); and Count 10 (Metro’s financial liability for conduct by Thowsen and LaRochelle).
Lobato is represented by the Chicago based law firm of Loevy & Loevy, which filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss on October 18. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Boulware has not yet made a ruling on the motion.
Loevy & Loevy has won a total of more than $200 million for dozens of wrongly convicted clients. Most recently, they won $9.3 million for James Kluppelberg, who was wrongly imprisoned 24 years for murder in Illinois.
Lobato’s case is: Lobato v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, et. al., Case No. 2:19-cv-01273 (USDC Nev.) (Filed 7-23-19) Hans Sherrer is President of the Justice Institute aka Justice Denied that conducted the post-conviction investigation of Kirstin Lobato’s case. That investigation discovered the new forensic evidence proving Bailey died in Las Vegas when Lobato was in Panaca, which resulted in the dismissal of her charges and her release. The Justice Institute
based in Seattle, Washington, investigates cases of possible wrongful conviction and maintains the world’s largest database of exonerated persons. Its website is www.justicedenied.org