Update 2017: The case was dismissed December 29, 2017
Update 2014: The Nevada Supreme Court has granted a motion to allow for a continuance for the oral arguments requested in Kirstin Lobato's case scheduled for September 9, 2014
Update 2011: Habeas Corpus petition filed on May 5, 2010
We have to wonder if Las Vegas courts are particularly gentle with sex offenders and tough on sex trade workers -- at least the street-walking variety. Many sadistic sexual predators have money; Las Vegas exists only to part people from their money. Money can be spent on gambling and high class call girls. Kirstin Lobato perhaps represents the underbelly of the glitzy town which the city would prefer to down play.
They have certainly sent out a loud and clear message with another court decision, Aug. 27, 2002, where a known vicious sex predator, Vincent Mark Santana, has been acquitted because the prosecution failed to get his prior bad acts before the jury. Kirstin Lobato, on the other hand, was unable to get her unimpeachable alibi before the jury. -- Sheila Steele
A Las Vegas crack dealer and rapist of street women was murdered and mutilated, most likely by one of his victims July 7 or 8, 2001. Kirstin Lobato had been attacked the previous May, Memorial Day weekend.
She had successfully fought off her attacker with a knife attack to the crotch. By the time of his murder, which the prosecution's expert said was most likely commmitted by a strong, determined person hyped up on drugs, Kirstin was far from the scene and clean of drugs.
The only evidence tying her to the crime was provided by a jailhouse snitch who had perjured herself before. Other exculpatory evidence was not placed before the jury, either through judicial prejudice or defence ineptitude.
Kirstin Lobato, who had been offered a plea bargain of 3 years, and who turned it down because she was innocent and believed a jury would find her so, was found guilty of first degree murder and faces up to 40 years in prison for a crime she could not possibly have committed.
A man with convictions of sexually attacking women dating back more than two decades was acquitted of sex charges Monday by a Clark County jury, which had no knowledge of the suspect's prolific prior record.
According to court records, Vincent Mark Santana has been accused of sexually assaulting at least 10 California women since 1977.
In February, authorities in Las Vegas charged Santana with raping a prostitute in a northwest Las Vegas parking lot.
On Monday, Santana was acquitted of the two counts of sexual assault and one count of kidnapping. Jurors said there just wasn't enough evidence to support a conviction.
"Based on what evidence we had, we made the right decision," jury foreman Jeff W. Baker said.
Baker said, however, that when informed of Santana's extensive prior record, his "heart (sank) and the gut turned a little bit."
"We had no idea," Baker said.
"Whether it would have changed the verdict, I don't know," he said. "It would have been in the back of our minds. It's something you certainly wouldn't have been able to just dismiss."
Santana has been convicted of at least six prior felonies including sexual battery, rape and assault with intent to commit rape. According to court records, California authorities have received complaints from at least 10 California women who claim Santana either raped them, forced them to perform oral sex or robbed them.
Santana has spent 23 of the last 25 years in prison for related crimes, leading Las Vegas police to label him a Tier 3 sex offender, a ranking that denotes a high probability of repeat offenses.
Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Douglas Herndon said Monday that he tried to get much of Santana's prior criminal record entered into evidence in the trial through what is known as a motion to admit prior bad acts. District Judge Michael Douglas ruled in mid-August that the motion was filed too late to give defense attorney Gabriel Grasso enough time to respond to it.
Herndon said the filing was delayed because he had to wait for information from the California legal system, where almost all of Santana's prior criminal cases were handled.
"I'm disappointed," Herndon said. He added, "I think he is a very dangerous individual."
Despite his acquittal, Santana is not expected to get out of jail anytime soon. Charges of failing to register as a sex offender and prescription drug fraud are pending. Herndon said he is optimistic Santana also will face new charges of making sexually threatening phone calls to women from the Clark County Detention Center.
According to court records, the charges Santana was acquitted of stemmed from his response to an Internet ad that offered entertainment from a Las Vegas woman, Taryn Smith. Smith met up with Santana at a bar at Westcliff and Durango drives and voluntarily got into his car.
Smith, who had agreed to a sexual act and role playing with Santana, then went with him to a nearby park. There, she said, Santana started to scare her, and she decided she did not want to proceed with the agreement to exchange sex for money.
"Do I need to pull out my gun?" she quoted Santana as saying when she testified during a prior preliminary hearing. "Don't mess with me."
Smith said he raped her and forced her to perform oral sex.
Several jurors said they thought Smith was lying about some facts of the case, and that she had credibility problems. For example, she originally gave varying statements to police about whether she was a prostitute, a fact she later acknowledged during court proceedings.
Baker said "the clincher" in reaching the acquittal was the woman's testimony regarding whether she would have made the rape allegations if Santana had given her money afterward.
He said Smith's response was, "I don't know."
Grasso said Douglas followed the law and made the correct decision in not allowing into evidence Santana's prior convictions and arrests.
"This was basically a case of an admitted prostitute who didn't get paid," Grasso said.
Court records indicate that in 1994, a California woman accused Santana of picking her up and holding a screwdriver to her neck while he forced her to perform oral sex. The case was pleaded down to disorderly conduct/prostitution and Santana was sentenced to 180 days in jail.
In 1993, he was charged with assault with intent to commit rape. In 1992, he was charged with assault and attempted sexual battery in connection with a woman waiting for a ride at a bus stop.
In 1979, a woman was walking through a California grocery store parking lot on Christmas Eve when she said she was forced into a car. She was driven to an empty field and raped. She identified Santana as her attacker.
In February of 1980, multiple women accused Santana of rape, sex assault or robbery. The court records indicate Santana was sentenced to 18 years in prison on two convictions of robbery and two counts of rape with force.
"The defendant was paroled on several occasions, all of which were revoked based on the commission of new crimes," Herndon wrote in his motion to admit prior bad acts.