A woman whom activists for the Innocence Project say was falsely accused of killing a homeless man whose penis was cut off has officially been freed by a Las Vegas judge, but not before she spent nearly 16 years in prison. Kirstin Blaise Lobato, 35, was reportedly convicted in two seperate murder trials in a case in which the prosecution reportedly had zero witnesses and refused to examine DNA evidence. A third trial was set to proceed after a judge ruled that Lobato’s conviction may have been caused by ineffective assistance of counsel, but taking into account her time served prosecutors said they would decline to pursue a third trial.
“By the time the third trial could proceed, Lobato would be immediately eligible for parole if convicted,” said Las Vegas Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo. “Although we fully believe in her guilt, as did the 24 members of our community who found her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, our resources are such that we are electing not to proceed with the third trial of this defendant, particularly considering the more than 15 years she has served in prison.”
While a medical examiner for the prosecution had claimed that the homeless man, 44-year-old Duran Bailey, died as early as 10 p.m. on July 7, 2001, four forensics experts for the defense testified in October that evidence implied he hadn’t died until 9 p.m. on July 8. Uncontested evidence presented by Lobato’s defense team had shown that she was in her hometown of Panaca, more than a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, at that time. In 2007, Lobato was given an additional one-year conviction for sexual conduct between a prisoner and another person, but lead defense attorney Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation for the Innocence Project, said that they would nonetheless push for Lobato’s immediate release.
Watch more about Lobato’s case in the two videos below.
Read the full story at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.