Supporters Seek DNA Testing in Killing

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Supporters who claim a Nevada woman was wrongly convicted in the July 2001 killing and sexual mutilation of a
homeless man in Las Vegas are asking the Clark County district
attorney to allow DNA testing of evidence they think will exonerate
her.

Change.org representatives and backers of Kirstin Lobato
presented boxes of signatures Monday at Wolfson's office in Las
Vegas, an aide to District Attorney Steve Wolfson said.

"Innocent people are not supposed to go to prison," Lobato
friend Michelle Ravell said later. "People who are in prison
should be there because they did something wrong, not because
someone was convicted following shoddy investigations. We believe
the evidence will show who really killed Duran Bailey."

Lobato, who also uses the name Blaise, is now 29. She is serving
13 to 35 years for killing the 44-year-old Bailey, cutting his
genitals with a pocket knife and leaving his body in a trash bin in
Las Vegas. Lobato could be eligible for parole in August 2018.

Police and prosecutors said Lobato confessed to killing Bailey
after he tried to rape her when she refused his attempts to trade
sex for drugs. But at trial, Lobato maintained she was 165 miles
away, in her hometown of Panaca, when Bailey was killed.

In an interview, Ravell said more than 128,000 signatures
collected online were submitted to Wolfson.

Wolfson declined to comment. But Chief Deputy District Attorney
Steven Owens, who handles appeals for the DA's office, noted Monday
that juries have twice convicted Lobato of killing Bailey during
what prosecutors characterized as a methamphetamine-induced rage. Lobato was 19 at the time.

The Nevada Supreme Court threw out Lobato's 2002 conviction on
murder and penetration of a dead body charges. She was tried again
in 2006 and convicted of manslaughter and penetration of a dead
body.

"Two different juries have heard the evidence on a court of
law," Owens said Monday. "That's not just reading about it online
or hearing from someone's impressions. Two times the jury said they
were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Kirstin Lobato
committed this crime."

Last year, the Clark County District Court judge who oversaw
both trials, Valorie Vega, denied a request by Lobato's lawyer,
Travis Barrick, to test the DNA of several items found in and
around the trash bin with Bailey's body. They include plastic
sheeting in which the body was wrapped, clothing, and a bloody
shoeprint of a men's size 9. Ravell said Lobato wears a women's
size 6½.

Vega's ruling not to allow DNA testing can't be appealed to the
state high court, but Ravell said the materials could be turned
over to the New York-based Innocence Project. The non-profit legal
clinic would pay for testing, project spokesman Paul Cates said.

Barrick said Monday that he wasn't directly involved in the
request for DNA testing.

But he said he hoped the state Supreme Court would agree in a
pending appeal that there is enough doubt to take another look at
Lobato's case.

Jurors heard that Lobato told police she killed Bailey because
she didn't think anyone would miss him. The Las Vegas
Review-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/OXISXy) that a former
cellmate at the Clark County jail testified that Lobato bragged
about killing and mutilating Bailey.

Barrick insists that Lobato didn't confess, and she never had
contact with Bailey.

Evidence that Bailey was found with semen in his body after
being sodomized showed his killer was a man, not a woman, Barrick
said.

"There's plenty of evidence that she didn't do it," the lawyer
said. "There's no evidence that puts her at the scene. She was in
Panaca at the time. There's plenty of evidence leading to alternate
suspects, but (police) never followed it."


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