POST: "Nevada Supreme Court reverses denial of appeal," by Stephen Jackson, published by The Wrongly Convicted Group on November 24, 2016. (Stephen Jackson is a public defender and Peabody award winning journalist.)
BACKGROUND: See Wikipedia entry at the link below: "Kirstin Blaise Lobato is a Nevada woman who is serving time for the July 2001 murder and mutilation of Duran Bailey, a homeless man from St. Louis who was living in Las Vegas at the time of his death. At her first trial in May 2002, she was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 40 to 100 years in prison. In a 2006 retrial, she was convicted of the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and sexual penetration of a dead body and sentenced to 13 to 45 years. Lobato's case gained significant notoriety due to the large amount of evidence that advocates for her release believe points to her innocence of the crime. Prior to being accused of this crime, she confessed to another incident where she stabbed a man in the penis. In this previous incident, she claims that a man was going to rape her, and so she stabbed him in the penis. She told this to eight friends. The police did not charge her for this incident. However, when the police heard about this, they suspected her in the death of the homeless man. ACCUSATIONS:In May 2001, Kirstin Lobato, then 18, described an attempted sexual assault that supposedly took place at a Budget Suites hotel. Lobato stated that during the attempted assault, she pulled out a knife and mutilated her attacker's penis. She went on to tell several friends about the alleged attack in the following months.On July 8, 2001, the mutilated corpse of Duran Bailey, a homeless man, was found on the opposite side of Las Vegas. Lobato was charged with the crime more than ten days later, after one of Lobato's friends informed police of her account of the sexual assault that supposedly occurred two months before. During a police interrogation, Lobato acknowledged stabbing a man in the groin, and police believed this constituted a confession to Bailey's murder, while Lobato claimed to be describing her attack.[7 FIRST TRIAL: While prosecutors expected Lobato to plead not guilty by reason of self-defense, Lobato denied committing the crime entirely; she even refused a plea deal offering a 3-year prison sentence on the charge of manslaughter. She insisted that she was at home in Panaca, Nevada, nearly 200 miles from Las Vegas, on July 8, 2001, and her family confirmed that. Her attorneys also attempted to discount her supposed confession. However, prosecutors contended that Lobato was a known methamphetamine user and that she killed Bailey during a dispute over sex and drugs. During the May 2002 trial, Lobato testified to her innocence, and her attorneys brought in experts who also stated that Lobato could not have committed the crime based on physical evidence, but Judge Valorie Vega suppressed much of the experts' testimony. In their closing statement, Lobato's attorneys compared her trial to the Salem witch trials. After deliberating through the night, the jury convicted Lobato of first-degree murder. On August 27, 2002, she was sentenced to 40 to 100 years in prison. APPEALS, SECOND TRIAL AND ONGOING LITIGATION: "Over two years after her conviction, on September 3, 2004, Lobato's conviction was reversed; the Supreme Court of Nevada argued that her attorneys were unable to cross-examine a prosecution witness, who was a woman whom Lobato was incarcerated with while awaiting trial. Her case was remanded for a new trial. On October 6, 2006, she was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 13 to 45 years in prison. Lobato's appeal of her conviction was denied by the Supreme Court of Nevada in October 2009. In May 2010, Lobato filed a writ of habeas corpus petition that asserted 79 grounds for a new trial. Among those was her claim of actual innocence based on new evidence discovered after her trial proving she was in Panaca, Nevada, during the time when Bailey was killed. Judge Vega denied Lobato's petition in June 2011. Lobato appealed that ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court on August 1, 2011. In February 2011 Lobato filed a post-conviction petition for DNA testing of crime scene evidence. The Innocence Project agreed to pay for the testing if Lobato's petition was granted. The petition was opposed by the Clark County District Attorney's Office, and denied by Judge Vega. Lobato appealed that ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court, which on January 12, 2012 dismissed her appeal on the basis Judge Vega's ruling was not appealable under NRS 176.0918. After Lobato's DNA testing petition was denied, an online petition has called for the Nevada courts to test the crime scene evidence in Lobato's case, claiming it can prove she is an innocent person. A book about the case, entitled Kirstin Blaise Lobato's Unreasonable Conviction by Hans Sherrer was published in May 2008 by the Justice Institute, and a second edition in November 2010. As of March 17, 2015 more than 53,000 copies have been downloaded at no charge from the website, Justice Denied. Retired FBI agent Steve Moore, noted for his advocacy on behalf of Amanda Knox, has referred to the case documents in the Lobato case as, "...complete and utter bullshit." After having been charged with misconduct and publicly reprimanded by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, Judge Vega, the judge in both of Lobato's trials, did not run for re-election in 2014 and stepped down from the bench in January 2015. On September 9, 2014 the Nevada Supreme Court, sitting En banc, heard oral arguments related to Lobato's habeas petition. The case has been "Submitted for Decision. En Banc", and the Court's ruling is pending as of April 1, 2015."
A copy of the complete ruling is here.