“If you didn’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about,” has become the mantra of wealthy white people when talking about law enforcement.
The reality for the poor and persons of color is different.
An example of the stark differences occurred in Las Vegas in tk. Now, November 2017, justice may finally happen.
Duran Bailey died violently and gruesomly. Homeless, Bailey didn’t have many friends on the gritty Las Vegas Streets. No one turned in a missing person complaint. No one stepped forward to ask for help in finding the drifter.
Bailey’s killer stabbed him, slit his throat, knocked out six teeth and cut off his penis. Over 30 injuries were counted by the medical examiner who said between the blood and brusing Bailey wasn’t just killed. He was brutalized beyond all recognition.
Police didn’t know where to look for the killer. Rumor’s said the killer had fled to Panaca. Ten days later Lobato was arrested.
Kirstin Lobato, known as Blaize by her friends, was 18-years old, a drug addict and sexual assault survivor. When she was arrested for Bailey’s killing, she readily told law enforcenment of being attacked and using her knife to cut at the man’s exposed genitals. It’s a story she still sticks to.
There’s just one problem with her story. Her attack took place weeks before Bailey’s was murdered. Lobato’s confession was to an incident which happened on the Boulder Strip — not across from the Palms where Bailey’s body was found.
Hans Sherrer, author of “Kirstin Blaise Lobato’s Unreasonable Conviction,” said, “There isn’t any similarity between the rape attempt described in her statement and Bailey’s murder.” At Kirstin’s first trial each piece of physical evidence appeared to exclude her from the crime. A shoe print was too large. Tire tracks didn’t match her car. Fingerprints and pubic hairs belong to others.
Overzealous prosecutors painted Lobato as a meth addict whose mind and moral circuity had been scrambled by years of abuse. The prosecution ignored evidence that Lobato was in Panaca — over two hours away from the murder scene. Even the prosecution’s own expert insisted that Bailey’s murder was “almost certainly” the work of a man.
Rebecca Lobato, Kirstin’s stepmom, said Kirstin was never violent and she was surprised to hear her stepdaughter accused of such a gruesome crime. Kirstin’s family was conifdent enough that Kirstin would be found innocent, they encouraged her to turn down a plea offer that would have dropped most of her sentence to probation. Kirstin listtened to the family and ended up getting 40-years behind bars.
“I think about it every day. She could have been home,” Rebecca Lobato said.
When Kirstin’s case was retried in 2007, her conviction was reduced to manslaughter. Her sentence was reduced to 13-to-40 years. Until tk, that reduction was the last good thing the courts have done.
Kirstin’s conviction possibly saved her life. Drugs had taken their toll yet Kirstin has rebuilt her life inside prison. Meth no longer has a death grip on her.
Rehabilitation came at a high price. Having already spent more than tk years behind bars, she may serve many more
“Enough is enough,” Rebecca Lobarto says today. “She’s been through enough. It’s time for this to end.”