Prosecutor stresses suspect’s statements; defense notes lack of evidence
By GLENN PUIT ,May 17, 2002, Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
A Clark County prosecutor told a jury Friday that “words from the murderer’s mouth” show Lincoln County teen-ager Kirstin Lobato is guilty of killing a Las Vegas homeless man last summer.
Chief Deputy District Attorney William Kephart said the 19-year-old slaying suspect’s statements claiming that she had cut off a man’s penis prove she killed Duran Bailey, a homeless man found with his penis severed in Las Vegas last summer.
“There’s direct evidence in this case, and it came directly from the murderer’s mouth,” Kephart said. “It doesn’t get any more direct than that.”
But Lobato’s attorney, speaking late Friday during closing arguments of Lobato’s murder trial, offered a far different interpretation of Lobato’s statements to witnesses.
Special Public Defender Philip Kohn said that when Lobato told police and others that she had sliced at a man’s penis with a knife, she was actually talking about an event in which she fended off a sexual assault from a yet-to-be identified attacker.
That May 2001 incident, Kohn said, had nothing to do with Bailey’s July killing and occurred across town from where Bailey’s body was found.
“She has never met Duran Bailey and Duran Bailey was not the man who attacked her in May,” Kohn said. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that connects my client with Duran Bailey.”
Those two arguments were presented to the jury late Friday in the closing arguments of the Lobato trial in District Judge Valorie Vega’s courtroom. Jurors began deliberating the case at about 8:30 p.m.
The jury will have to decide whether Lobato is the individual who killed Bailey behind a trash bin off West Flamingo Road on July 8. The killer also stabbed Bailey in the neck, bludgeoned him to death, cut off his penis and stabbed him repeatedly in the rectum.
According to police, in the days after the slaying, Lobato told both friends and police she had cut off a man’s penis in Las Vegas.
Of those statements to police Detective Thomas Thowsen, Kohn said:
“Two people talking about two different incidents.”
Prosecutors said, however, that explanation simply doesn’t make sense. Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo said there are no police or medical reports in the valley indicating anyone other than Bailey had his penis cut in such a manner.
“You’ve just seen the largest coincidence you will ever see in your life,” Kephart said of the defendant’s alibi. “You’ve heard about this (someone getting their penis cut off) maybe one other time. What was her name? Lorena Bobbitt.”
Lorena Bobbitt was found innocent by reason of insanity in 1994 after arguing she severed the penis of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, because he was abusive.
Kephart said he believes Lobato was at the end of a three-day methamphetamine binge and desperate for drugs when she ran into Bailey, who was an accused rapist and abuser of crack cocaine. Kephart told the jury that it’s possible that Lobato offered sex for drugs but killed Bailey when he didn’t deliver.
Or, the prosecutors said the motive for the attack could have been what they say is Lobato’s deep hatred of men given the fact that she has been sexually abused by various men since she was a child.
In requesting an acquittal, Kohn compared Lobato to the victims of the Salem, Mass., witch hunt, during which numerous innocent women were burned at the stake.
“Thirty-six women were put to death for being witches,” Kohn said. “Women who were different, who were odd and who said stupid things.”
In an impassioned argument, Kohn told the jury that the physical evidence in the case should clear Lobato. He said a bloody footprint at the crime scene was nearly three sizes larger than the shoe size Lobato wears and that no other evidence, no fingerprints or DNA at the crime scene or in Lobato’s possession, links Lobato to the crime in any way.
“Those bloody footprints are throughout the crime scene, and they do not match my client,” Kohn said. “That’s reasonable doubt right there.”
Lobato could face life without possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder and sexual penetration of a dead human body.