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Reasonable Doubt - Part 8
Thomas Wahl is a forensic scientist who worked for the Las Vegas Metropolitan police department. If you ever watch shows like Forensic Files, you see people like Wahl analyzing crime scene evidence and making determinations about what could be connected to an event or person (George Schiro, the defense expert who had a history of testifying for the prosecution, is in a similar line of work).
In Kirstin Lobato's case, Thomas Wahl is the criminalist who examined evidence around Duran Bailey's murder. The prosection naturally called him to testify about what he had learned from the evidence given to him. Wahl offered the following list of items, which he studied:
Blood samples from the deceased, Duran Bailey.
DNA samples from Kirstin Lobato.
Chewing gum found at the scene, covered in blood.
Torn condom pack with a piece of Kleenex, found at the scene.
A pair of Kirstin Lobato's black high heeled sandals with blood near the big toe area inside one shoe.
A pair of Nike Air shoes, also taken from Kirstin Lobato.
Kirstin Lobato's aluminum bat.
Vehicle slip cover from Kirstin Lobato's car.
Driver's side panel from Kirstin Lobato's car.
Three blood samples taken from the crime scene.
Small pieces of plastic with silver coloring retrieved from Duran Bailey's rectum.
His testimony on these were as follows (all italicized quotes come directly from the court transcripts, all bold type is the author's addition):
- The blood samples from Duran Bailey and DNA from Kirstin Lobato were used for reference, so that he could identify them through DNA analysis if he found DNA on any other items.
- The chewing gum was found to have the DNA of two persons present. Duran Bailey's blood was covering this chewing gum, and so Wahl identified his blood as being the major source of DNA on the gum. He also says: "In the minor DNA component of the mixture there was some DNA types there that were not from Duran Bailey and they were also not from Kirstin Lobato. So, Kirstin Lobato is excluded as a minor DNA component of the mixture." In other words, Kirstin Lobato had nothing to do with the chewing gum.
- The condom pack and Kleenex, the Nike Air shoes, the baseball bat, and the floral printed slipcover from Kirstin's car are also devoid of any connection. "There was no blood detected on the torn condom pack with the piece of kleenex recovered from the scene. And there was no semen identified in that item as well. There was no blood detected in the pair of Nike Air shoes. There was no blood, hairs or tissue recovered from the aluminum baseball bat or detected on that item. And then I also mentioned the vehicle slipcover, the red and white with black floral print. No blood was detected on that item." Forensically speaking, these are all dead ends. The bat is the only one of these three pieces of evidence that the prosecution attempts to have kept in discussion, because the proscution chose to use it as a murder weapon.
- "With respect to the high heeled sandals reportedly collected from Kirstin Lobato, this fits -- the human blood was identified as a small stain that was in the big toe area on the right high heel sandal. It was female blood. So, therefore, Duran Bailey would be excluded on that basis right away, because he's male." This more or less speaks for itself. Wahl could not exclude Lobato as being the source of the female blood, and it is likely that she was. It was her shoe, after all. The blood was found in a spot where you might get a blister, or stub your toe hard. Either way, the blood was not the murder victim's.
- Wahl noted also that each of the three blood samples mentioned "was identified as coming from Duran Bailey." Understandable, since it was a rather brutal killing. But no evidence there.
- The driver's side door panel took up a huge amount of conversation, because of all the talk about false positives. The blood tests (such as the glowing substance you see sprayed on surfaces in movies to detect blood) showed something on the door panel. But there are things besides blood that can cause this reaction, including various liquids you'd find in foods - particularly from some plants - and various metal and salt deposits. So Wahl used a follow up up test called a Hema Trace, which is basically asking: Is This Blood Or Isn't It? The prosecution mostly dodged asking for Wahl's findings on the Hema Trace - they left it to the defense to bring up the results.
The defense first made sure the jury heard that blood testing will pick up blood that is very old, decades old, even. Then they pointed out that the car was 17 years old (because Kirstin Lobato had only owned it for a couple years, at most, and who knew what happened in it before?). But when the matter of whether it was blood came up, Wahl said: "I don't even know if it's blood." Later, he says: "Well, it was negative. I got no result." So whether it was blood or not could not be determined. Now at that point, whether it was or was not no longer matters. How can a person fairly pick one or the other? Yes, it was blood, no it wasn't blood...either way, it's a presumption, because the expert could not make that determination. So, the prosecution argued that Kirstin Lobato or her parents cleaned the car. It's their theory, and they never offered any proof to support it. They just said that was why no evidence was positively found in the car.
- The silver plastic was ignored. I have no idea why. It strikes me as very important. After all, it was found in Bailey's rectum, where the man had been sliced multiple times. When Wahl gets to the plastic on his list of items, the prosecution stops him and asks him about the Nike shoes, bat, and condom pack. They never get back to it. Nor does the defense team.
Now, I can see that as being an oversight. But given the subversive way the prosecutors approached this trial and the blundering defense on Kirstin Lobato's side, I can also see it as having been purposefully avoided by the prosecutors because it damaged their case - and I can see it being missed by the defense. See earlier posts for exactly how the prosecution manipulated and deceived those present. But like with Wahl and the door panel blood, I have no way of saying: yes, the prosecution dodged it, or no, it was just an oversight. It still strikes me as something that was important enough to warrant at least a question about what it might have been. But there was nothing.
And that is actually the forensic evidence against Kirstin Lobato. Nothing. No scientific analysis ties her to the scene. See the post entitled "Reasonable Doubt - Part 3" from 10/7/03 to see how forensics excludes her. The point is, in this entire trial there's no solid or semi-solid proof (I mean, something you could say was probably true beyond a reasonable doubt) that connects Kirstin Lobato to Bailey or his murder, except for one thing:
See Reasonable Doubt - Part 4 on 10/13/03 for details on her. Without Martin, the prosecution did not have any evidence that Kirstin Lobato was connected to Duran Bailey's murder. She was the star witness, the sole source of direct information. If Martin had been properly brought up on perjury charges or the evidence of her lies was allowed before the jury so that they could see she was the kind of person to sacrifice another person's freedom to save herself, this could have ended very, very differently. It could have ended the way it should have.
More to follow.