Tag Archives: DA’s office

Kirstin Blaise Lobato Freed After 15 Years in Prison for Las Vegas Murder Prosecutors Knew She Couldn’t Have Committed

Wrongful Murder Conviction Overturned Kirstin Blaise Lobato

In spite of evidence of her innocence, the Clark County DA’s Office did everything they could to prevent Kirstin Blaise Lobato from being freed after over 15 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

After spending her entire adult life in prison for a murder she didn’t commit, a Las Vegas woman has finally been released. Kristin Blaise Lobato spent over 15 years behind bars in spite of evidence that she was over 150 miles away at the time the killing took place. However, she was finally able to walk out of the Clark County Detention Center a free woman for the first time since she was 18 years old on January 3rd.

Meanwhile, even after a judge had declared her innocent and ordered her release, prosecutors with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office refused to acknowledge the improprieties carried out during her trial(s). In fact, they even briefly had plans to force her to spend another year in the county jail for having been caught having sex with another inmate during the time that she was wrongfully imprisoned.

Fortunately, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez also dismissed that case, instead ruling that the time she had already spent in prison for a crime she didn’t commit was sufficient punishment for that as well and giving her credit for time served. Judge Gonzalez then ordered that Lobato be released from custody immediately.

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District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo have attempted to justify their efforts to keep an innocent woman in prison by contending that the fact she was found guilty at trial by two juries means she is. However, the case against Lobato was very much flawed from the start and those verdicts were more a product of what was kept from the juries than the strength of the evidence actually presented to them.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato Released From Prison

There was virtually no physical evidence tying Lobato to the murder of Duran Bailey, a homeless man who was found beaten to death and castrated in a Downtown Las Vegas dumpster in 2001. The only real justification for her to even be a suspect was a story that she told to several people that she had fended off a rape attempt by cutting her attacker’s penis with a knife.

She had told that story weeks prior to the murder, though, and had identified the location where that incident happened as a different area of town. In spite of that, police investigators characterized her description of stabbing a man attempting to sexually assault her in the groin during an interrogation as a confession of Bailey’s murder.

More importantly, Lobato was positively verified to have been at her parents’ house in Panaca, Nevada, nearly 200 miles from Las Vegas on July 8, when Bailey was murdered. Based on that and other inconsistencies in the physical evidence, experts brought in by her defense attorneys testified that it would have been impossible for her to have carried out the murder.

However, that testimony was suppressed by Judge Valorie Vega during the original trial. Meanwhile, the prosecution was allowed to present a expert witnesses that made the ridiculous claim that flies in Las Vegas act completely different than flies anywhere else in the world do.

In addition, the district attorney’s office actively fought to prevent additional DNA testing on the physical evidence recovered at the scene, even after the Innocence Project offered to pay any costs involved. All previous DNA testing had excluded Lobato and, due to the violent method of Bailey’s death, it’s unlikely the person who murdered him could have done so without leaving their own DNA behind (such evidence from an unknown source was in fact found).

Of course, if Lobato was guilty those tests would more than likely definitively prove she was present at the crime scene. So realistically the district attorneys should have had their own incentive to cooperate with the DNA tests.

Regardless of that, Judge Vega ruled against allowing the testing. Shortly after, Vega chose not to run for reelection following an (unrelated) official reprimand against her by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. In what’s probably not a coincidence, almost exactly three years after Judge Vega left the bench Kristin Blaise Lobato walked out of the front door of the Clark County Detention Center.

Background on the Case and False Convictions

Not Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and his underlings at the DA’s office have gone to great lengths to keep someone who was obviously innocent in prison. Not too long ago, I reported on the case of Demarlo Berry, who was falsely convicted of murder based on testimony from a witness that was coached and paid off by detectives from the LVMPD.

Not only were the prosecutors in the case complicit in manufacturing evidence against Berry, they also delayed his release for four years after that witness recanted his testimony and the real murderer had confessed. Then, once they finally realized that they couldn’t prevent his release, they portrayed it as if they were responsible for freeing him.

In another case, Fred Steese was issued a pardon last month in order to clear his record of a murder he was falsely convicted of and spent twenty-one years in prison for after he was beaten and coerced into confessing. Prosecutors also hid evidence that definitively proved he was in another state at the time and photo lineup results that pointed to his innocence.

Instead of releasing him after he was declared “actually innocent” by a judge, they threatened to refile the charges and drag out the process coercing Steese into accepting a plea deal for second degree murder to ensure he wouldn’t have to stay in prison for years while fighting those new charges.

Numerous other convictions in Clark County have been overturned recently, including several death penalty cases, due to racial discrimination by prosecutors during jury selection. Obviously, for Wolfson and his prosecutors the important issue isn’t guilt or innocence, but rather simply whether they can get a conviction, even if it they know it’s a false conviction.

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NYPD Civil Asset Forfeiture Thefts Have Spurred Federal Class Action Lawsuit

NYPD Civil Asset Forfeiture Lawsuit
As everyone in the world (and several other parts of the galaxy) knows, civil asset forfeiture laws are essentially a license to steal for police departments. Without any real or substantial evidence being required, members of the Gang in Blue are given the opportunity to snatch cash and other valuables from citizens not affiliated with the mafia family they work for.

Even if those that have had their money and/or property stolen are never convicted or even charged with a crime, it’s very difficult and sometimes impossible for them to get those possessions back. Not only is there no legal burden for the government to prove what they stole was derived from illegal activity, victims of their thievery are instead forced to prove a negative and show that it wasn’t.

There’s no shortage of examples of innocent motorists being preyed upon by Road Pirates, many times based on nothing except the fact that they have out of state license plates. Sometimes, it’s just a crime of opportunity and nothing more. I.E. some very minor “infraction” is spotted by a Revenue Generator and they use that as a pretense to pull a driver over when the true and sole purpose is just to troll for something worth stealing.

The other common source of forfeiture plunder is even more problematic. Along with that license to steal comes a license to kill during drug raids. Once those Drug Warriors suit up in their military gear, strap on their military weapons, and climb into their military vehicles, even babies sleeping in their cribs and innocent neighbors aren’t safe. But that money ain’t gonna steal itself and drugs aren’t gonna disappear from evidence lockers by them self. You know how the old saying about omelets go: sometimes you gotta murder an innocent, 92 year old woman and then plant drugs at her house if you wanna steal her money.

Civil Asset Forfeiture CashOver the years, the for-profit policing methods spurred by the advent of asset seizure laws have been so lucrative that many police departments, especially those in small otherwise crime free communities, have come to derive a good percentage, if not the majority, of their budgets from a combination of forfeiture theft and speedtrap/checkpoint revenue (the latter often overlapping with the former). As was reported by CopBlock Network contributor Asa Jay last week, the Road Pirates in Oklahoma have even come up with a way of stealing money from debit cards recently.

Obviously, New York is a big enough city to have other ways of stealing from citizens beyond relying solely on the police to shake people down directly. However, the world’s seventh largest army, otherwise known as the NYPD, does its share of fleecing people within that city, too. After all, when you have access to what amounts to free money, why not take advantage? (Outside of ethical reasons, which they constantly prove aren’t an issue for them.)

In fact, they have a pretty elaborate system and a set of co-conspirators within the District Attorney’s office working to ensure that people don’t get their money and property back once police find an excuse to grab it. The Bronx Defenders, a law firm that has filed a class action lawsuit against the NYPD on behalf of the victims of asset forfeiture within the city has detailed just how their scheme works within the suit and it’s really pretty simple.

Via the New York Daily News:

“They have set up such a complicated process that some people give up and never get their property back,” said lead attorney Molly Kovel of The Bronx Defenders.

Kaleb Hagis, one of the new plaintiffs, said cops seized his car, $2,932 in cash and four cell phones when he was arrested in Sept. 2015. His vehicle was returned in December, but he is still fighting to get the phones and cash — even though charges against him were dropped in March.

He said the Bronx District Attorney’s office has refused to issue release forms necessary for the NYPD property clerk to hand over the items…

After putting in a request to the NYPD property clerk for the items, an individual has 270 days to get a release form from the district attorney.

After that deadline, the NYPD can “dispose” of the property.

“My case was dismissed,” said plaintiff Kenneth Clavasquin, whose phone was seized when he was arrested in June of last year. “I don’t understand why I can’t get my phone back from the city!”

The original plaintiff, Victor Encarnacion, said he only received his phone taken during his November 2014 arrest after the lawsuit was filed earlier this year and seveal months after his case was dismissed.

Requests by his attorneys were ignored, according to the complaint. During a Sept. 2015 visit to the DA’s office with his attorney, Encarnacion was told he could not get a release.

It’s a good racket if you can run it. After you steal people’s property you give them a limited amount of time to get it back before you are allowed to “dispose” of it. Then you get your friends at the DA’s office to stonewall them until that time runs out. Robbing banks is for amateurs.

Fortunately for them, the guy who gets to decide whether they have to stop stealing people’s money is also on the same payroll as them. More than likely, at worst their robed co-worker will just make it just a little bit more difficult for them to snatch people’s stuff.

John Oliver, of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” explains civil forfeiture laws

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