Tag Archives: second degree murder

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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Update: First of Two Louisiana Cops Charged in Murder of Six Year Old Jeremy Mardis Sentenced to 40 Years

Marksville, LA. Police Officer Derrick Stafford was sentenced earlier today to 40 years in prison for the November 2015 murder of six year old Jeremy Mardis. Last week Stafford was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter for the shooting of Mardis and his father, Christopher Few, who was badly wounded but survived. (See below for videos of the actual shooting.) Technically, Stafford was sentenced to 55 years, but the fifteen years he received for attempting to kill Few will run concurrent to the 40 year sentence.

As has been reported several times already on the CopBlock Network (primarily by Brian Sumner and also by me personally), Mardis was killed by Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. after a short car chase. Stafford and Greenhouse, who were working as Deputy Marksville City Marshals at the time, claimed that they had to defend themselves after Christopher Few had backed into Greenhouse’s vehicle.

However, body camera video showed that not only had Few, who was unarmed, stopped prior to the shooting, but that he had also raised his arms outside the window of his SUV. Other officers at the scene, including Marksville Police Lt. Kenneth Parnell, whose body camera recorded the video, did not fire their weapons and also testified that they did not do so because they did not “fear for their lives.” That “extremely disturbing” footage was later cited by Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police as one of the reasons why charges were filed against Greenhouse and Stafford.

After the shooting it was revealed that Few and Greenhouse were involved in a “love triangle” involving Few’s fiancee, Megan Dixon. Prior to the shooting there had reportedly been several prior confrontations between the two. Also, just prior to the beginning of the chase that culminated in the shooting, Few had been arguing with Dixon and attempting to convince her to come home with him.

Stafford and Greenhouse were both moonlighting as Deputy Marksville City Marshals at the time. In addition to that, Stafford worked full time as a Lieutenant with the Marksville Police Department. Greenhouse, whose trial will begin later this year, previously resigned from the Marksville PD and was working full time as an Alexandria City Marshal.

Full Body Camera Video

Cop’s Lies Sent 14 Year Old to Prison for 9 Years, Even Though Real Killer Confessed Weeks After Sentencing

Davontae Sanford James Tolbert Detroit
On Tuesday, a Detroit man who had been in prison since the age of fourteen, due to false testimony by a Detroit police deputy, had his conviction overturned.

Davontae Sanford had received a sentence of 37 to 90 years in prison after being advised by the attorney that originally represented him to plead guilty to four counts of second degree murder for a quadruple homicide in 2007.

Just two weeks after Sanford was sentenced for the murders, the real killer confessed to those murders, along with eight others. In spite of that confession, Sanford remained in prison until his current age of 23. Vincent Smothers, a professional hitman, also signed an affidavit detailing his confession and stating that Sanford was in no way involved in the crime.

Now that his innocence has finally been established, the (unnamed) lawyer who advised him to plead guilty has been suspended from practicing law.

Also, Detroit Police Deputy Chief James Tolbert, whose false testimony was largely responsible for Sanford being charged in the case, was fired. Prior to that, he had been hired as the police chief in Flint, Michigan.

Via USA Today:

Davontae SanfordThe announcement of Sanford’s release comes after Michigan State Police launched an investigation into the killings last year and submitted their findings to (Prosecutor Kym) Worthy’s office last month.

That report included a recorded interview with Detroit Police Deputy Chief James Tolbert in which the cop contradicted testimony that Sanford had drawn a detailed diagram of the crime scene, including location of the victims’ bodies, when the boy was questioned by police in 2007, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“This called into question Tolbert’s credibility in the case,” the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

Tolbert, who went to serve as the Flint, Mich., police department chief in 2013, was fired from that position earlier this year.

Sanford — who was assisted in his legal battle by Dykema Gossett, the Michigan Innocence Clinic, the Northwestern Center for the Wrongful Convictions of Youth, and Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office — could be released from prison as early as Wednesday.

James TolbertIncidentally, Tolbert was a subject of controversy almost immediately after he was hired as the police chief in Flint in 2013. At the time, he was being sued by a Detroit detective who claimed he had blocked his efforts to investigate the killing of a stripper.

The stripper, Tamara Greene, was supposedly murdered to help cover up a scandal involving a party at former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s home. The lawsuit claimed that Tolbert and other Detroit police officials prevented Odell Godbold from doing a full investigation of the murder in order to protect Kilpatrick.

Update: Daniel Shaver Cried, Begged For His Life Before Mesa Policeman Executed Him

As has been previously reported here on the CopBlock Network several times, Daniel Shaver was visiting Mesa, Arizona from Texas on a business trip in January of this year. During that trip, he was shot to death by Mesa Police Officer Philip Brailsford. Ofc. Brailsford has since been charged with second degree murder for the shooting.

Now, more details have been released concerning the circumstances leading up to the shooting. Those details include descriptions from the body camera footage and it does not paint Brailsford or the Mesa police in a good light. In fact, it could not sound worse.

According to that newly released police report, Shaver was following the orders of the officers at the time he was murdered. Furthermore, the report states that as Shaver was crawling on his hands and knees he was audibly crying and begging for his life before Officer Brailsford executed him with five shots of his rifle. The apparent justification that Brailsford used for his actions was that Shaver had touched his waist in order to pull his shorts up.

Via the New York Daily News:

An unarmed man who was shot and killed by an Arizona police officer in January cried, complied with police orders and begged for his life before the fatal firing, according to a newly released police report.

Mesa Police Officer Philip Brailsford has been charged with second-degree murder for the death of Daniel Shaver, a 26-year-old Texas man. Authorities have declined to release Brailsford’s body cam footage from the deadly encounter.

Brailford's AR-15 with "You're Fucked" Inscribed on it.

Brailsford’s AR-15 with “You’re Fucked” Inscribed on it.

But a report released Tuesday includes extensive description of the footage, detailing Shaver’s desperate final moments before Brailsford fired five shots at him with an AR-15 rifle.

Police confronted Shaver January 8 after responding to reports of a man pointing a rifle out the fifth-floor window of a La Quinta hotel.

The night of his death, Shaver had invited a man and woman at the hotel to his room for drinks, according to the report.

After some shots of rum, the man asked Shaver about a case that appeared to hold a musical instrument. Shaver opened it to reveal a pellet gun and dead sparrow inside. Shaver told them he was on a business trip with Wal-Mart and “his job is to kill all of the birds that get inside the buildings,” according to the report.

Shaver then briefly pointed the pellet gun out the window.

When police found Shaver, they warned him that he “may not survive” if he did anything that could be considered a threat, the report says.

Officer Philip Brailsford Mesa PD

Officer Philip Brailsford, who executed an innocent, unarmed man as he begged for his life.

Brailsford’s body cam shows Shaver appeared to making small jerking motions while he had his hands behind his back, according to the report.An officer yelled at him, “If you do that again, we are shooting you. Do you understand?”

“No, please don’t shoot me,” Shaver said.

The footage shows Shaver complying with all other orders, including a demand to crawl toward the officers, as he is “audibly heard sobbing.”At one point, Shaver’s hand appeared to move toward his waist. An officer was heard yelling, “Don’t,” before Brailsford fired.

Shaver was not armed. His hand motion appeared to be him “attempting to pull his shorts up as they were falling off,” the report says.

It’s now quite obvious why the Mesa Police Department has so adamantly refused to release the body camera footage of Shaver’s murder by Brailsford and has even tried to have it formally sealed. The fact that Brailsford had “You’re Fucked” inscribed on the AR-15 he used to execute Shaver had already painted him as a callous and aggressive person. The video of an innocent, unarmed father of two and husband of a pregnant woman being killed as he crawled on his hands and knees crying and begging for his life takes that to a whole different level.

As I posted about last week, it’s been reported that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has offered Officer Brailsford a plea deal that would include him serving no jail time at all. That would obviously be a huge miscarriage of what the police like to call justice, especially in light of this new information.

Below is a video by Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, discussing that proposed plea deal and the details within the newly released police report.

(Donate to the GoFundMe account that has been set up for Daniel Shaver’s family.)

Mesa AZ Police Officer Charged With Murder to Receive No Jail Time (Update)

Information for the following update was shared to the CopBlock Network by Phoenix resident Kelly Brown, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

This case involves the murder of Daniel Shaver, who had traveled to Arizona from Nashville on business, by Mesa Police Officer Philip Brailsford. Shaver was unarmed at the time he was shot five times by Brailsford as he crawled on his stomach in the hallway outside his hotel room at a local La Quinta Inn.

As has been previously described by Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet:

Daniel was traveling for work in Mesa, Arizona. He makes this trip 2-3 times a month and frequently services pest removal stores there. He carries his work equipment: two pellet guns (one approved for flying and one that is not allowed due to an air compressor, I believe.) among other things like a pump, ect. with him on every trip. Due to how expensive his company’s pellet guns are, he takes his hard case into his hotel room every night.

Daniel had dinner with two individuals, a man and woman, in the evening at a local restaurant. They returned to the hotel and went to his room together. I spoke with him on the phone and he had also been online and playing a game with a friend. At some point, someone near the pool called the local police stating that they saw a man with a gun near the window of a 5th floor hotel room. Whether Daniel was the one holding it or he allowed the other man to view his equipment and look into the scope, we don’t know. The man left the room at some point, for what we think was a trip to the gas station. Shortly after, three police arrived to his hotel room and Daniel and the woman came to the door. When asked to step out of the room they both did without hesitation. We were told that Daniel was not aggressive but that he failed to listen when instructing to NOT put his hands behind his back. Due to him putting his hands behind his back, the Mesa, AZ police department took forceful action and shot him. Daniel passed away in the hallway of his hotel, unarmed.

Shaver’s shooting and the subsequent filing of second degree murder charges against Ofc. Brailsford were previously covered in posts by Severin Freeman, Joshua Scott Hotchkin, and Asa J.

Ofc. Philip Brailsford

Ofc. Philip Brailsford – Murderer on the loose.

In spite of Brailsford being charged with murder, it’s now being reported that he will be offered a plea deal that includes no jail time at all. As you can see in the video embedded below, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is rather offended by the idea that somebody would criticize him for allowing a cop to walk without any jail time whatsoever after murdering an innocent, unarmed man and father of young two children, and whose widow is currently pregnant.

After all, he charged Brailsford with second degree murder (before offering him a plea bargain that completely invalidates that) and he can’t bring Shaver back to life, which would be the “perfect justice” in this case.

So, obviously, if they are going to “fall short” of that there’s no point in even bothering to punish in any sort of meaningful way a cop that unnecessarily murdered someone. How dare you insinuate otherwise.

Not surprisingly, Shaver’s wife is very angry about the deal, especially considering some of the indicators into Brailsford’s mindset that have come to light since the murder of her husband. (A GoFundMe account has been set up by Daniel Shaver’s family to help offset the costs associated with his burial and the lack of his income.)

Equally unsurprisingly, the Mesa Police Officer’s Union is enthusiastically backing Officer Brailsford.

Update: “Disturbing” Bodycam Footage Led To Murder Charges in Jeremy Mardis Shooting

Although it hasn’t been released yet and probably won’t be anytime soon, Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police stated that “extremely disturbing” video footage captured by a bodycam worn by one of the officers involved played a large part in why the charges were brought against two of the four officers present at the time that six year old Jeremy Mardis was murdered by Louisiana marshals. Other shocking details about the marshal department itself and those officers has also emerged since the shooting.

According to TheAtlantic.com:

All of it was filmed. The police chase of an SUV after dark on a weeknight. The shots fired. The driver, struck in the head. His son, 6 years old, shot dead in the front seat.

The fatal shooting of Jeremy Mardis in Marksville, Louisiana, on Tuesday was captured on a body camera worn by one of the four police officers present at the scene. And it was that video footage that led in part to the decision to charge two of them with second-degree murder on Friday night.

The footage, Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police told reporters, was “extremely disturbing, and it is partly why we’re here tonight with these charges.”

“I’m not gonna talk about it, but I’m gonna tell you this,” Edmonson said. “It is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen and I will leave it at that.”

Greenhouse Stafford Lousiana Marshals ArrestedAs previously reported here on CopBlock.org, Officer Norris Greenhouse Jr. and Lt. Derrick Stafford (who previously was indicted on two counts of aggravated rape) were arrested late last night (Nov. 6th) on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Jeremy Mardis died at the scene, while his father, Chris Few remains hospitalized with life threatening injuries.

Initially police claimed that Few had fled after the officers tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. In addition, the earliest reports claimed he had a gun and then later that he had backed his car into a police car. All of those initial reports have since been refuted by Louisiana State Police, who made the arrests of Greenhouse and Stafford.

Six Year old Shot Lousiana PoliceIt’s also been reported that all four officers refused to cooperate with state police investigators after the shooting or even state why they were chasing him. According to the Daily Mail, three of the four officers were working for a “maverick” marshal agency, which is run by a local school bus driver who lacks basic law enforcement certification and “has recently begun overstepping his authority.”

Six Baltimore Cops Indicted in Freddie Gray Murder to be Tried Separately Starting in October

bpd-gang-members-killed-freddie-gray-copblockAmid protests, a First Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday that Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter, Caesar Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice, and Sgt. Alicia White; the six Baltimore police officers indicted for the in custody killing of Freddie Gray ; will be tried separately when the cases go to trial starting in October. In addition, Judge Barry G. Williams ruled against defense motions requesting that the charges be dismissed because of claims of prosecutorial misconduct and another motion seeking to force Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby to recuse herself from the cases.

It was a motion by the defense that had requested separate trials for the officers. The prosecution was seeking to have Goodson, Nero, and White tried together. The defense motions to dismiss charges or force Mosby’s recusal were based on a contention by the defense that Mosby had issued orders for police to crack down on the area where Freddie Gray was arrested and that his arrest was a result of those orders.

Defense attorneys have also claimed in court filings that BPD investigators had information that Freddie Gray had been involved in insurance fraud schemes, in which he would intentionally injure himself in order to collect settlements. However, they provided no actual proof of that allegation.

Freddie Gray Baltimore ProtestOutside the courtroom, dozens of protesters (per USA Today‘s estimates) demonstrated against racism and police violence, as well as advocating for convictions against the officers accused of causing Freddie Gray’s death. Signs being displayed outside the courthouse included, “Stop racism now.” There were also chants of “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell” and “Tell the truth and stop the lies, Freddie Gray didn’t have to die.”

The Baltimore Police Department announced, via Twitter, that one person had been arrested during the protests. in anticipation of further protests during the trial, leave for Baltimore police officers has been cancelled by the department.

The officers are facing various charges ranging from reckless endangerment to second degree murder. According to NBC News:

Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter and Caesar Goodson, and Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White — were arrested on reckless endangerment charges. Rice, Porter, and White are additionally facing manslaughter, while Goodson has also been charged with second-degree murder.

None of the officers personally attended the hearing. All six of them have pled not guilty to the charges.

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