By GLENN PUIT, May 16, 2002 Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Slaying suspect Kirstin Lobato tearfully told a jury Wednesday that she has been a victim of sexual abuse since she was a young girl, but she denied a prosecutor’s suggestion that this prompted her to murder and mutilate a man last summer.
“I’m a sensitive person,” Lobato said.
“The thought of killing someone really bothers me.”
Lobato, 19, spent nearly three hours on the witness stand Wednesday as she spoke in her own defense during the sixth day of testimony in her murder trial.
The Lincoln County woman is charged with murder with the use of a deadly weapon and sexual penetration of a dead body in the July slaying of Las Vegas homeless man Duran Bailey, whose body was found to the rear of a West Flamingo Road trash bin July 8.
Bailey, an accused rapist and abuser of crack cocaine, had been stabbed in the scrotum while alive. After his bludgeoning and stabbing death, his penis was severed and his rectum was slashed.
Lobato, soft-spoken, calm and wearing a business suit, testified that she had nothing to do with Bailey’s death.
“Duran Bailey never attacked me,” Lobato testified.
“That’s always been my position.”
In what would prove to be a remarkable day of testimony in the courtroom of District Judge Valorie Vega, Lobato also revealed the details of four sexual assaults against her. She repeatedly clashed with Clark County prosecutor William Kephart over facts, and even read two poems she wrote to a jury hearing the case.
“Trapped in my reclusive life, solitude cuts me like a knife,” Lobato once wrote in a poem.
“So many questions, so little time,” Lobato wrote in another. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m losing my mind.”
The admitted methamphetamine addict acknowledged telling police that she had stabbed at a man’s penis with a knife while fending off a sexual assault in Las Vegas. But, she said, this incident had nothing to do with Bailey’s death.
She said nearly two months before Bailey’s July slaying, she was attacked by an unidentified man in a Budget Suites parking lot near Boulder Highway.
During this incident, Lobato said her attacker “bum-rushed” her as she got out of her car in the parking lot.
“I started to cry and I said, ‘No,’ ” Lobato said.
“He slapped me and said, ‘Shut up, bitch.’ ”
She said during a struggle with the man, she was able to retrieve a butterfly knife and fend him off by stabbing at his groin.
“I just reached for whatever I could grab down there, and I cut,” Lobato said.
Her attorney, Special Public Defender Phil Kohn, asked whether she knew if she had cut off the man’s penis in the Budget Suites incident.
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t,” Lobato said.
“I didn’t have anything in my hand to throw or drop or anything else.”
Despite the seeming similarities between this account and Bailey’s slaying two months later, Lobato said she was certain she was not confusing the two incidents. She said she had nothing to do with Bailey’s death, adding that at the time Bailey was killed, she was at her parents’ home in Panaca.
“Did you kill him?” Kohn asked.
“No,” Lobato said.
Under questioning from Kephart, the chief deputy district attorney made it clear he viewed Lobato’s testimony as fiction. Kephart told Lobato he believed she killed Bailey after she tried to buy drugs from the man, who demanded sex in return.
“You went on July 8th to meet your connection, Duran, to buy drugs, didn’t you?” Kephart asked.
“That’s incorrect,” Lobato responded.
“You killed him because he wanted sex that night?” the prosecutor said.
“That’s absolutely wrong,” Lobato said.
“You bent down in front of Duran Bailey to make him believe you were going to give him oral sex, and then you stabbed him in the bottom of the scrotum,” Kephart said.
“No,” Lobato said.
Lobato said she never reported the Budget Suites incident to police because when she had told authorities of previous sexual assaults in her life, “They basically blew me off.”
“It’s been my experience that it doesn’t do any good,” Lobato said.
Lobato wept as she told of being the victim of repeated sexual abuse as a young child. She said her mother’s boyfriend repeatedly molested her. The man eventually served prison time.
Lobato said at the age of 13, she was violently raped in the desert by a past boyfriend. At the age of 17, she said, she was sexually assaulted by her best friend’s father after the man supposedly slipped something in her drink.
Kephart then insinuated that these incidents could have led Lobato to kill Bailey in a rage.
“You’ve had some pretty bad experiences with men, haven’t you?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” Lobato said, but after acknowledging this, the defendant once again repeated that she did not kill Bailey.