Tag Archives: dna evidence

Update: Details Revealed About Evidence, Previous Arrests of Las Vegas Ex-Cop Finally Charged in 1997 Rape and Murder

Previous Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer Murder

At a preliminary hearing, court documents revealed LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall already had a criminal history before the 1997 rape and murder he was finally charged with in January.

Last week, I wrote about former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr., who was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. The original story was that a “lack of funding” prevented the testing of the Iverson’s rape kit and other DNA evidence from the crime scene. Presumably, that made it impossible to prosecute him at the time from a lack of evidence.

After receiving a grant from the New York District Attorney’s Office, the rape kit was finally sent for testing in 2016. Then, in February of 2017, Sewall’s DNA was positively matched to that rape kit. As a result, Officer Sewall was finally charged with rape and murder earlier this month (Jan. 10th).

A sample of Sewall’s DNA had actually been available since 1999, when he was sentenced to (just) probation for a separate arrest on multiple on duty sex crimes, and he was accused by prosecutors of Iverson’s murder the very same day her body was found. Once again though, since they couldn’t scrape together the cash to test that one rape kit, Sewall was able to avoid prosecution for twenty-plus years.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

When he was eventually arrested  last month Sewall essentially confessed to the murder of Iverson in a statement to Metro detectives. Although, in a quote published by Mike Shoro of the Las Vegas Review Journal it does sound like he is looking to claim it was an accident:

“During the interview, he admitted to engaging Iverson in sex for money,” Sewall’s arrest warrant said. “During their sexual encounter, Iverson was shot. Sewall couldn’t account for why his gun was out or pointed at Iverson. He knew she was shot in the head and he immediately fled the scene.”

A Previous History of Violence Against Women

However, like most cases of crimes and misconduct committed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers, it has now come out after the fact that the real story is quite a bit different than what was originally reported. Not only did court documents reveal even more details about his arrest history that predated the murder, but it also raises serious questions about why he couldn’t have been prosecuted even without the DNA evidence.

Rape Murder Charges Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr.

Those documents, which were made public at a preliminary hearing last week, also show that Metro police officers had responded to a domestic violence call at Sewall’s house in 1995, two years prior to the murder. Although he (not surprisingly) was never charged with a crime as a result, a .357 revolver was confiscated from Sewall by those officers.

As I mentioned in the original post, Officer Sewall was also arrested earlier in 1997 in a video sting operation for forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts. He was on duty and used the threat of arrest in those sexual assaults. That arrest led to his resignation from the LVMPD.

In addition, although he was only sentenced to probation for those rapes, that sentence is what required him to submit a DNA sample in 1999. As was once again mentioned in the previous post, Sewall also was arrested while he was awaiting sentencing in 1999 for propositioning an undercover cop who was posing as a prostitute in San Diego.

Sufficient Evidence Twenty Years Ago?

Based on those court documents, that .357 revolver and those previous arrests would have represented a pretty significant piece of evidence in the 1997 case for which Sewall currently faces charges. In fact, had it been pursued that alone probably would have been more than enough to tie him to the murder and secure a conviction.

Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Sewall Murder Rape Victim Nadia Iverson

An Undated Photo of Nadia Iverson.

Back then, before Clark County’s “Blue Card” law was overturned, all handguns had to be registered with Metro. As a result, Sewall’s was officially listed as an owner of such a weapon. Obviously, there was also a record of that from when he had it impounded during his domestic violence incident as well.

According to the current arrest warrant detectives at the time determined a bullet “consistent with a .357 revolver Sewall previously registered with Metro” was used to kill Iverson. In spite of that, Las Vegas police seemingly did not even attempt to match the bullet to the gun they knew Sewall had at the time.

Not only that, but when Sewall was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in San Diego while he was already awaiting sentencing for raping prostitutes, he had that same revolver in his possession. Meanwhile, neither the LVMPD or Clark County prosecutors mad any effort to acquire the gun they obviously suspected he had used to murder someone after it was confiscated by San Diego police.

Instead, Sewall was sentenced to probation and that revolver was later destroyed by the SDPD, eliminating any chance it could be tested for a ballistics match. Officer Sewall proceeded to violate that probation numerous times over the course of the next five years with relatively little consequences for those violations. Also, as can be evidenced by his Facebook profile, Sewall was living a pretty comfortable life during the twenty years Iverson’s rape and murder went unpunished.

Incompetence or an Intentional Lack of Effort?

As has already been pointed out in previous posts, the excuse that there was a lack of funds is a ridiculous excuse for not testing the thousands of rape kits that have sat untouched in evidence rooms from as long ago as the mid-eighties. Las Vegas area city governments and police departments have had no problem coming up with well over a billion dollars in total for new government buildings, publicly funded NFL stadiums, and faulty radio systems.

They even came up with $400,000 to pay off the police chief and deputy chief at the Henderson Police Department after they were forced to resign for sexual harassment. The idea that they couldn’t somehow come up with enough money to test that one rape kit that would positively identify the person they suspected in the case literally from day one should be considered an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

But even if you disregard the DNA evidence altogether, they shouldn’t have had a very difficult time charging and even convicting Sewall. Detectives investigating the crime scene had already determined she was killed by a gun matching one they knew for a fact he owned.

The fact he had it impounded by the San Diego police during his 1999 arrest obviously means he still had it in 1997 after the murder. They very easily could have gotten a warrant to have it tested right after the murder or while it was in the possession of the San Diego police.

Regardless of any other evidence (which I’m sure there was), matching the gun to crime would by itself be pretty damning. A prostitute being raped and then killed using a gun owned by someone with a history of sexual assault and violence against women (and in particular prostitutes) would be pretty hard to explain away.

Instead of presenting (or apparently even seeking) that evidence however, investigators just filed it away along with the rape kit that they don’t seem to have had any interest in ever having processed. At best, this would have to be classified as a huge case of incompetence by the Las Vegas police and prosecutors.

In fact, it’s almost like they intentionally tried to avoid prosecuting one of their own by making sure the evidence didn’t get found. Almost exactly like that.

Original Local News Report

Related Posts

Murder Charges Filed Against Former Las Vegas Cop After 1997 Rape Kit is Finally Processed Twenty Years Later

Rape Kit 1997 Murder Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. has been charged with murder after a rape kit from 1997 was finally processed in 2017.

Earlier this week, former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. Iverson’s body had been found by a construction crew at an unoccupied apartment in May of that year. He was finally arrested on January 11th in Reno, where he had been living recently.

Sewall was named by prosecutors as a suspect the very same day that her body was discovered. However, although they had acquired a sample of his DNA in 1999, a positive identification of Sewall wasn’t made until February of 2017. The reason for that is because, due to a lack of funding, the rape kit collected from Iverson was not sent for processing until March of 2016.

In the meantime, Sewall spent a large percentage of those twenty years on probation for sex crimes committed while on duty prior to Iverson’s murder. In February of ’97 Officer Sewall had been caught on video attempting to force a woman to perform oral sex on him. Instead of being fully prosecuted for that crime, he was allowed to resign from the department and given a plea deal for two charges of oppression under the color of law.

He was then sentenced to probation, even though he was arrested in San Diego for soliciting a prostitute while awaiting sentencing. During that time on probation, he was caught in possession of a knife and gun by probation officers, failed to submit required reports, and also did not comply with a sex offender counseling program he had been ordered to complete.

Finally in 2004, he was sentenced to almost two years in prison for repeated probation violations. Even after being released from prison, he still didn’t comply the restrictions he was subject to as a convicted felon. At the time he was arrested in Reno, he had not registered his address change after moving from California and had to be tracked down by detectives. According to media reports (video embedded below), he then confessed to the murder of Iverson.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

The failure of police departments and city governments to fund the testing of rape kits across the country has left huge backlogs and prevented the arrest and conviction of rapists. As a result, many of those perpetrators have been able to continue victimizing women and committing other violent crimes for years and even decades in some cases. Others have been falsely convicted only to be exonerated once the testing was finally conducted.

In Southern Nevada alone 6,473 rape kits went untested, including approximately 5,600 connected to investigations within the LVMPD. It wasn’t until they received a $2.7 million grant from the New York State District Attorney’s Office that those kits began to get tested within the past couple of years.

Over 4,000 of those rape kits are still in the process of being tested or have not been sent out for testing to this day. Meanwhile, in recent times Metro has spent almost $300 million on a new headquarters complex, $42 million dollars on a new radio system that never worked properly (of which allegations of favoritism and kickbacks have been made), and another $26 million dollars to pay for the radio system that replaced it.

The City of Las Vegas also spent $185 million to build a new City Hall. That and the LVMPD’s HQ were both initiated in 2008. So somehow they managed to find the funding for those optional (and heavily criticized) expenditures during the worst recession in 70 years, but not for the (relatively) tiny fraction of cost that would be involved in the testing of the rape kits.

And that doesn’t even take into account the annual cost of payouts to victims of the misconduct and violence perpetrated by Las Vegas area police officers. In several recent years that money alone would have paid for all of the rape kits to be processed. That’s especially relevant when discussing a crime that was committed by one of those officers and then went unsolved for twenty years because there was no money for the rape kit to be processed.

Related Posts

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.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

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.

Related Posts on Nevada Cop Block

False Imprisonment: Its Increasing Frequency and the Huge Cost It Imposes on Society

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously by a reader, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Police Abuses on the Rise

It’s no secret that police brutality and misconduct has been on the rise recently with cases in the news like Eric Garner who was suffocated in a choke hold by police and killed for illegally selling cigarettes. Similarly, a 12-year-old boy Tamir Rice was shot and killed after playing with a toy gun in the park. The level of uneasiness between police officers and citizens has hit an all-time high and we see this unrest play out in society. Police brutality is not the only form of police misconduct- false arrest of citizens can be an excruciating experience that sends innocent people to prison for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For example, Chicago’s taxpayers have had to pay over $120 million for the racial torture committed by one police commander, Jon Burge. Part of the disconnect between officers and citizens is the unfairness in power and how that power is used. To add on to this, police are offered different treatment when it comes to false arrests or misconduct. Although Burge oversaw the torture of over 118 black men – which would typically lead to decades in prison – he was released in three-and-a-half years and sent to a halfway house. All the men he tortured remain behind bars.

Police officers were granted a Qualified Immunity Doctrine by the Supreme Court which essentially states that police officers are innocent of harm towards their suspects in most cases due to their risky and honorable line of work. The best intentions are seen to be associated with most police officers, but has that been the case recently?

Typically, false arrest from police officers falls into the police misconduct category, which can also encompass police brutality and wrongful death. According to the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations report, 75% of homicide exonerations involved police misconduct. One widely publicized example of a wrongful arrest was James Bain, who was convicted of kidnapping and rape at the age of 18. He served 35 years for a vicious crime he did not commit. Although DNA evidence was tested and presented prior, he was refused further DNA testing from the courts until his fifth try in 2006. Although misidentification from eyewitnesses account for 75% of all convictions that are overturned by DNA evidence, Bain was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated by police.

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

How Does False Imprisonment Affect the Public?

Some people may think that the police arrest people who they think are guilty of a crime, and if they are wrongfully arrested, they are quickly released and go about their happy lives. That is far from the truth in most cases where the arrest was outright wrong and unlawful. Many people who are falsely arrested fight back and sue the police officer who wronged them and because of this, the public is responsible for paying that fee.

Amount of Money City Taxpayers Have Paid for Police Misconduct:

  • Chicago: $521 million from 2004-2014
  • Cleveland: $8.2 million between 2004-2014
  • Denver: $12 million since 2011
  • Dallas: $6.6 million between 2011-2014
  • Los Angeles: $101 million between 2002-2011

For example, Robert Graham was arrested for disorderly conduct by a police officer who was stuck in traffic behind him. Due to the gridlock traffic in New York City, Graham was also stuck in traffic and unable to move. The police officers wrongfully arrested Graham due to the circumstances of the situation. Graham’s wrongfully arrested cases was one of the ones that contributed to New York taxpayers paying $18 million to pay back people who were wrongfully arrested by officers.

According to Jon Norinsberg, a false imprisonment attorney, New York city police may only legally arrest citizens if:

  1. The police have an arrest warrant.
  2. The police have probable cause that you committed a crime.
  3. You are interfering with a police investigation or arrest.
  4. The police believe you are a criminal attempting to flee a crime scene.

Why are Police Officers Getting Away with False Imprisonment?

The number of innocent people behind bars is the highest number it has ever been historically, so it is only natural to question the source – the police. Why has it become okay to so quickly convict people and rarely face punishment as a police officer for wrongfully arresting someone? The issue gets stickier when videos of police officers using excessive force and even killing citizens when they appeared to pose no threat. Are there consequences for that? Rarely.

Unfortunately, false arrests happen and can be scary to argue your case in front of a judge – especially because police are most often shielded by the Qualified Immunity Doctrine exercised by the Supreme Court. This is a protective order that is designed to protect police officers from facing punishments from their mistakes or unlawful actions. In theory, this Qualified Immunity Doctrine was originally designed to shield officers who are properly bringing justice to criminals and who handle situations appropriately – if someone is upset for getting arrested if they deserve it, well this doctrine will protect the police from this potential complaint or lawsuit. Since videos have been released of police officers using unnecessary excessive force on unarmed people, citizens are growing scared that officers are abusing this immunity from the Supreme Court to get away with their unjust behavior. This is where a disconnect lies between police officers and citizens.

Where is the Accountability From the Police?

Why is it that as a society we only started paying attention to police misconduct and false arrests when Netflix featured programs like Making a Murderer?

Police officers are designed to keep our communities safe. While most cops are heroes and upstanding citizens who work hard to protect our safety, those who entered the police force to unlawfully assert power over others and take advantage of their badge are getting more press in recent news. Although it’s an unfortunate circumstance, it is important to stay educated on what is happening in society to better educate yourself and to hopefully make a positive change.