Death row exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth made a stop in Las Vegas this past weekend to show his support for Kirstin Blaise Lobato. Bloodsworth strongly supports a petition asking Las Vegas District Attorney Steven B. Wolfson to stop blocking DNA testing in the Kirstin Lobato case.
Lobato was wrongfully convicted in 2006 for the murder of Duran Bailey, which occurred in Las Vegas in July 2001. Lobato came to the attention of police because of statements she made regarding a traumatic incident in which she had to fight off a man attempting to rape her. This incident occurred in May 2001, one month earlier and several miles away from the location of Bailey’s murder.
In an act of pure negligence, the police interpreted Lobato’s statements about the May 2001 rape defense as a “confession” to the July 2001 homicide, which actually occurred several weeks later on July 8. This so called confession led to Lobato’s wrongful conviction in 2006.
Kirstin Blaise Lobato
Lobato has a rock solid alibi. Numerous eyewitnesses have verified that she was 170 miles from the crime scene at the time of the murder and Lobato has also passed a polygraph. Sadly this was not enough to secure her freedom. There is not one shred of evidence at the crime scene linking Lobato to the crime and there is evidence that has remained untested that can lead police to the actual killer.
More than a dozen pieces of evidence have yet to be tested in Lobato’s case. Why has this evidence remained untested? Kirk Bloodsworth has now added his voice to the growing number of people asking the same question. Lobato’s petition has over 200,000 signatures and continues to gain momentum.
Bloodsworth knows the importance of proper DNA testing. He served 9 years in prison (2 of those years on death row) for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl. Post-conviction DNA testing conducted on semen samples collected from the victim’s underwear excluded Bloodsworth as a suspect. The newfound evidence then led police to the real perpetrator, who confessed to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison.
Bloodsworth was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993, making him the first person to be exonerated through DNA testing after receiving a death sentence.
Bloodsworth travels the country speaking about his experience, and is now the advocacy director for “Witness to Innocence,” and organization composed of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones, working to abolish the death penalty.
Bloodsworth’s announcement capped off a weekend in Las Vegas that had already brought a strong boost to Lobato’s ever growing network of support. Just prior to Bloodsworth’s announcement, Justice4Kirstin held a conference titled “Does Innocence Matter?” featuring special speaking engagements with Jeffrey Deskovic, Jason Puracal, and Former FBI Special Agent Steve Moore. Deskovic and Puracal are both wrongful conviction exonerees and Moore brings invaluable expertise, with his 25 years of experience in the investigation of violent crimes.
Jeffrey Deskovic was wrongfully convicted in 1990, for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old classmate, based on a coerced confession. DNA testing conducted on semen samples before trial excluded Deskovic but the prosecution pressed forward anyway, securing a conviction based solely on Deskovic’s unreliable confession.
The Innocence Project would come through for Deskovic in 2006 by having the unidentified semen retested and run through the New York State DNA databank of convicted felons. The DNA was matched to convicted murderer Steven Cunningham. Sadly Deskovic’s wrongful conviction left Cunningham free to go on to murder another young woman 3 1/2 years later.
Jeffrey Deskovic left prison determined to help others that were wrongfully convicted. His advocacy efforts led to the creation of “The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice,” an organization working to improve on all aspects of the wrongful conviction epidemic, which include: prevention, education, legislation reform, and much needed assistance for the exonerated.
Jason Puracal was wrongfully convicted in Nicaragua in 2011 of international money laundering, drug trafficking, and organized crime, despite conclusive evidence of his innocence. Jason served 2 years of a 22 year sentence in a maximum security prison before being released on appeal in 2012. Jason knows firsthand what Kirstin and her family are going through. Jason’s wife and son suffered along with him for 2 long years filled with uncertainty and despair.
Steve Moore is a retired FBI agent that has now turned his efforts to advocating for the wrongfully convicted. Steve’s advocacy began with the Amanda Knox case, writing a series of articles for Injustice in Perugia and speaking in support of Knox on every major network in America as well as many other media outlets worldwide. Amanda Knox was acquitted on appeal in 2011 and is now back home with her family. Steve’s work on the Knox case led him to expand his efforts to include Jason Puracal’s case in Nicaragua and Jacob Ostreicher’s case in Bolivia. Ostreicher has since been freed on bail (awaiting a new trial) and (as mentioned above) Puracal was released from prison on appeal in 2012.
Video clips from the “Does Innocence Matter?” conference are available on Joseph Bishop’s YouTube channel.
This new wave of advocates will find good company among the strong showing of support Lobato has already received. With the addition of Deskovic’s organization, seven innocence groups are now working on her behalf: The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, The Justice Institute, Proving Innocence, Worldwide Women’s Criminal Justice Network, the Innocence Project, the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted, and Injustice Anywhere.
Lobato’s case is the clearest case of a wrongful conviction that can be found. There is absolutely no forensic evidence linking Kirstin Lobato to the murder of Duran Bailey. In fact there is no evidence of any kind. Support for Lobato will continue to grow until this miscarriage of justice is corrected.
What will it take to convince D.A. Steven B. Wolfson to do what is right in the name of justice?