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10.15.2003

Reasonable Doubt - Part 5

I'm doing a study in contrasts today, and the reason for it is simply to show the unbalanced weight of testimony on both sides.

If you don't know what this is about yet, then here's the nutshell. Kirstin Lobato was convicted for the murder and mutilation of a man named Duran Bailey despite reasonable evidence of her innocence. One of the main sources of evidence for the prosecutors was a statement where she told the police she defended herself from a rape and in the process probably injured the man's penis. During the statement, neither party mentioned specific time frames like which days or months events happened on, and this added to the confusion because it was automatically assumed by both sides that they were talking about the same event.

The attack Kirstin Lobato was referring to took place in mid to late May. Bailey's murder was on July 8th, over a month and a half later. Due to a similar wounding on Bailey (the severing of his penis), it was presumed she was speaking about Bailey's murder. However, Kirstin had spoken to several individuals prior to Bailey's murder about the attack she defended herself from, and has also said she was two hours away in the town of Panaca during the early morning night of July 8th when Bailey is most likely to have been killed. The prosecution has argued she was in Las Vegas - where the murder occurred - and their time frame has her Las Vegas from 5th or 6th of July straight through to the 13th.

So, witness by witness in the order they appeared - and using the witnesses' initials only - here is the testimony that was heard about time frames (only witnesses who testified to having knowledge of a time frame that supported either the defense's or prosecution's arguments):


Prosecution Witnesses:

J.D. - Testified that he found the defendant's car in his driveway for unknown reasons just before Memorial Day weekend, which was late May. Kirstin Lobato has said that was where she took her car after the attack, though J.D. was not home at the time.

S.P. - Testified that he had heard about the attack in June, which was prior to Bailey being killed. S.P. also testified that Kirstin had talked about cutting someone's penis off, though he had assumed she was joking or showing some characteristic bravado.

D.T. - Testified speaking to Kirstin about the incident in late July, after Bailey's murder. D.T. also said that Kirstin was upset about it, and D.T. had gotten the impression that it had happened rather recently.

M.A. - Had a conversation with Kirstin the weekend before July 4th about the attack. Bailey was killed on July 8th.

P.B. - Overheard Kirstin's conversation with M.A. in July. P.B. testified that he could not say for sure when that conversation happened. He orginally told the police it had happened roughly a week before his interview with the them in late July.

T.T. - Testified that he was one of two officers who took the taped statement from Kirstin Lobato on July 23rd. At the very start of the taped statement T.T. told Kirstin that he was aware she had to defend herself "a couple of weeks ago" in Vegas. Later in the taped statement Kirstin states that the attack happened "over a month ago."

C.C. - Testified he had seen Kirstin Lobato on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th of July in Panaca.

D.A. - Testified that C.C. had gone to see Kirstin Lobato on the 5th and 6th in Panaca, and had no knowledge of whether or not C.C. saw her on the 7th or 8th.

Defense Witnesses:

B.L. -Kirstin's mother, who testified that Kirstin was in Panaca from the at least the 2nd of July until the 9th of July before returning to Las Vegas. B.L. also testified that she took Kirstin to the doctor on the 5th who prescribed an at-home followup procedure, and both days are supported by medical documentation.

Kirstin Lobato - Testified that she was attacked in May. Also testified that she was two hours away in Panaca during the time of Bailey's murder.

D.T. - Testified calling from Las Vegas to Panaca to speak to Kirstin several times from the 2nd through the 9th, and complete phone bill records were presented as proof of his claim. Testified to picking Kirstin up from Panaca on the morning of July 9th and driving her down to Las Vegas.

R.G. - Testified that B.L. had taken a day off work on July 6th specifically to take care of Kirstin because she was sick, and offered logs as proof.

S.K. - Testified to being with Kirstin at her home in Panaca during the early evening hours of July 8th.

J.A.D. - Testified to seeing Kirstin four-wheeling late in the morning on July 8th, in Panaca.


(The source for all of the above was the court transcription of Kirstin Lobato's jury trial.)

There were other witnesses for both the defense or prosecution, but none but the above-mentioned claimed knowledge of time frames (except for forensic experts, whose testimony of time frames regarded purely forensic matters, such as when Bailey died and how long bloodstains last). As I have mentioned before, the prosecution's theory needed Kirstin in Las Vegas by July 5th at the earliest (the blog entitled Reasonable Doubt - Part 2 goes into why). No person testifies that Kirstin claimed her act of self-defense was any time other than May. Even D.T. and P.B., who come the closest to saying it had just happened, do not know for sure. For D.T., she states that it was merely her impression. P.B. says he was not sure because Panaca was a small town and everyone had heard about Kirstin's arrest (and why) and all he knew with certainty was that the conversation he had overheard had happened prior to her arrest.

The prosecution went to great lengths to convince the jury the witnesses were covering for Kirstin or deceived by her family, even submitting their own witnesses to an assault on their honesty (except for those parts that supported their own theory). The defense team did a shockingly bad job at clearly driving these time frame discrepencies home. The defense argument is sort of like: "Well, you heard it yourselves." Compared to the prosecution's direct, step-by-step "this is what happened, ladies and gentlemen" the last impression the defense gave was muddled and vague, whereas the prosecution's final argument was specific and targeted, cleanly cleaving away any problems with their time frame while maximizing what little support they did have.

But if a witness said something about a time frame that supports either the defense or the prosecution, I've put it down here. And without the manipulative (or bungling) presentations of any lawyers, I'd say the weight of all this testimony is heavily on Kirstin Lobato's side. I wouldn't even consider this a close call.

More to follow.


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