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8.15.2003

If the Devil Says It, It Must Be True

Purposefully releasing incorrect information in news reports is a clever little trick officials have long used to verify the credibility of what they are told. These are - most often - not accidents. A few slight adjustments to true evidence can help the police wade through hundreds of crazies who would claim responsiblity for a crime (this technique is most famously used with serial murders, such as with the Zodiac Killer or the Son of Sam), and also to prevent a vengeful person from pointing their fingers at enemies innocent of the crime. In Kirstin Lobato's case, the police did the same thing.

One example: Seperate news reports claim the victim's body was found in the trash bin, and in other cases, behind or vaguely "near" the trash bin. Only the police - and the murderer - know for sure. (If you'd like more examples, scan the various news reports for the locations of Bailey's stab wounds).

Enter Korinda Martin, jailhouse informant and the prosecution's star witness.

Martin described Kirstin as bragging about the murder, in effect setting herself up as a hearsay witness. Martin, however, is hardly a poster girl for witness credibility. She had a history of doing everything she could to alleviate her own sentence, including the mailing of forged letters to a judge. She also quoted some of the newspapers' misrepresented facts as though Kirstin had told her about them. And jurors would probably not realize the weakness inherent to Martin's claim to have been unable to read the papers, mostly because your average juror doesn't think about - or know about - the nuances of reality in a prison.

So how could Korinda Martin's self-involved and obviously falsified testimony be taken legitimately by a jury, when Kirstin Lobato's own alibis (six of them) were never put on the stand to defend her innocence? Well, that can be summed up with two words:

Public Defender.


8.13.2003

Sent an email to a site called the Injustice Line, and asked for some linkage. Hopefully they'll respond. And if they will link, I'll return the favor.


Butterfly Wings

At the risk of going Yoda on everyone, I'm going to tap into a bit of philosophy today. A bit of wisdom was emailed to me the other day. Seriously, this is smart stuff. Consider it, and then I'm going to tell you how to change the world.

Each smallest act of kindness reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it's passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.
Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.


- This Momentous Day, written by H.R. White

Nature repeats itself over and over, on so many different levels and in countless ways. When studying chaos in physics you often run across the Butterfly Effect. That is: a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can affect or even create a future hurricane thousands of miles away.

Taking action - whether it's good or evil or positive or negative - works in a similar fashion. Its not a chain of events easily followed, but even the smallest things you do can be a part of social hurricanes in some other place and time. In short, it matters...it all matters.

Granted, not all good done comes to a good end...but the chances are far greater that events will lean towards the positive. And doing something positive has a major benefit over doing something negative. Even if you cynically believe (as I do) that doing good is no assurance of having good come to you, the same is not true with kissing the hand of evil. Whether you believe in sin, or karma, or conscience, or morality, or just flat out fear punishment for wrongdoing, your own evil devours you. At the very least, it causes biological stress. And mentally, it makes you more aware and suspicious of unseen and unknown retribution, and this eats away at your spirit. Even though it may not assure you of a great life, acting good doesn't do have such destructive side effects. It's healthy living.

Better yet, you can focus positive energy just like you focus anything else. Ever focused on revenge? Or seduction? Ever been purposefully and repeatedly cruel? All three of those things involve power. Yours. You take control of your inner strengths and skills and bend them towards accomplishing your goals. This same effect can be applied to creating a better world.

That's how you change the world.

Right now, there is a young woman caught in the grip of startling injustice. You may not be able to fix her problems. But you do have the power to focus some good in her direction. The smallest action - reading Kirstin Lobato's story, signing her guestbook, just letting her know someone is aware and that she has not been left to suffer by herself - could be your own personal butterfly wings, creating a hurricane.


8.12.2003

I'll admit it. I speed.

Maybe that's putting it mildly. Perhaps it would be better to say I travel at "decidedly unsafe speeds." For example, my girlfriend and I went down to Key West this past weekend, and I paid over $20 in tolls for the luxury of using the Florida Turnpike, without a doubt the fastest means of travel up and down Florida's length. The speed limit there, barring a few exceptions, is 70 mph, and it is basically the straightest route with little traffic (especially when US-95 is a free road, though it takes longer).

Without admitting my actual speed, let's just say the highway patrol doesn't usually give out tickets on the Turnpike unless you're going well over 100 mph, and I like to push the envelope, so to speak...further than I should (and let me add my thanks here to that unknown officer who was kind enough to flash his headlights at me instead of slamming me with a couple-hundred dollar ticket).

Given some light traffic, a few twists and turns and tolls and the like, it takes the average [speed limit-following] individual 4.5 hours to get from where I live to Florida City, where the Turnpike ends. It took me 3.5 hours to travel almost 300 miles (294, actually). Average mph: 84, including the slower speed limits before getting on and off the Turnpike.

Now, to the point...

It is about 200 miles from the center of Panaca to the center of Las Vegas, according to the online mapping engine I use. That is taking the fastest route. Now if I (an admitted speeder of greater-than-average proportions) could make the 294-mile trip from where I live to Florida City in three-and-a-half hours, then I could probably make the trip from Panaca to Las Vegas in 2.5 to 3 hours. Speeding like the devil, of course, and taking into consideration the fact that the roads are basic US and Interstate highways...no speedway Turnpike. If I knew a few back roads to take some miles off, it still wouldn't be enough to do much more than compensate for the fact that back roads are slower to begin with.

According to the timeline of events, Kirstin Lobato had to make the Panaca-to-Las Vegas drive, there and back, in about 5 hours. Okay, very late at night, speeding with idiotic recklessness like I do, I can certainly see it as possible...barely. But if you throw in the time it would take to locate a specific homeless man I was going to buy drugs from, then murder him in a rather brutal and hands-on fashion (we're not talking bang bang you're dead, now drive away here), then remove all physical evidence so successfully that all the prosecution had to throw at you was a bat you kept in your own car...and even that was eventually shot down as evidence...well...

I have a reputation for doing things well with startling quickness...and that's with 99% of the things I do. I hear "You've done that already??" on almost a daily basis, even from people who should know better by now. I'm the swiftest person I know. But there is no way I could do what the prosecution has claimed Kirstin Lobato did, during the only window of time she could have done it in.

Maybe I'll have another chance to test this speeding thing. I'll be gone on a road trip to San Fran next week and, strangely enough, we'll be going by way of Las Vegas.


8.11.2003

Can you cheat the polygraph test?

Common rumor says yes. Scientific backers say its still reliable. But either way, the polygraph will do no good (at best) for the innocent.

The problem is one of universal perception. By themselves, polygraph tests cannot acheive reasonable doubt. But they are still accepted as a way of bolstering evidence for a trial. Yet the very existence of the question "Can you cheat the polygraph test?" drives a dagger into the heart of an innocent defendant's case.

For a moment, place yourself on the jury for a murder trial. Let's say that, according to the prosecution, the defendant has voluntarily taken polygraph tests and failed each one. Even though it was voluntary, every result showed that he or she lied about being innocent! Wouldn't this be, to the heart and to the mind, a powerful evidence of guilt?

Now turn the situation around, and note that the defendant passed each polygraph test, implying that they told the truth. It's not hard to imagine this creeping doubt, an underlying awareness that the defendant could have cheated the polygraph. Even if you accept the 'passed polygraph' as a sign of innocence, where is the sense of conviction you would feel if they had in fact failed it?

We can more readily accept it as proof of guilt, but absurdly, we cannot accept it as easily as proof of innocence.

Of course, no one would cheat a polygraph to prove themselves a liar. But the test is at odds with the rights of the defendant to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The door only swings open in one direction.

That is one reason most states no longer accept the lie detector test. However, it may still be admitted if both parties - defense AND prosecution - consent. This is certainly true in Nevada, and let it be noted that a prosecutor doesn't need to give a reason for blocking it. But if the polygraph says a person is innocent, what are the chances the prosecutor is actually going to allow it in as evidence?

Let's say you were on trial for murder. You are innocent, but your freedom (and perhaps your life) is on the line. Yet, you have passed several polygraph tests, and each determined that you were truthful about your claims to innocence.

Congratulations. It doesn't mean a thing.

Polygraphs didn't help Kirstin Lobato, either...despite the fact that she passed three of them. Remind me where the justice is again?


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