What if Dead Bodies in Vegas Don't Attract Flies?

It's unlikely, but it's the state's best hope to keep convicted murderer locked up
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2017 2:03 PM CDT
Murder Case Hinges on Whether Vegas Flies Are Unique
In this 2002 photo, Kirstin Blaise Lobato awaits opening statements in her trial on charges of killing and sexual mutilation of a homeless man in Las Vegas in 2001.   (Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)

A state prosecutor is trying to keep a woman convicted of a brutal murder behind bars—and to do so she must prove the flies in Las Vegas are somehow different than flies everywhere else in the world. It's a pretty big ask, the Intercept reports in an update on the case of Kirstin Lobato that defies belief. Lobato was 18 when a homeless man named Duran Bailey was brutally murdered—carotid artery cut, penis removed, teeth knocked out—in 2001 in Las Vegas. Despite Lobato having no connection to Bailey and having been with her parents nearly three hours from Sin City the day he was killed, police arrested her for murder based on a rumor she had attacked a would-be rapist earlier that year. She was convicted in 2002. Lobato saw that conviction overturned only to be convicted again in 2006.

Now the Innocence Project is trying to secure a new trial for Lobato, arguing her prior defense team failed by not calling bug experts to the stand. The state claims Lobato killed Bailey early in the morning before driving to her parents' house in time to clean up and be seen around the neighborhood that same morning. But there was no evidence of blowfly activity on Bailey's body. Blowflies are known to fly up to 15 miles to find dead bodies and lay eggs on them. Three "distinguished forensic entomologists" testified this week it would be impossible for Bailey's body to have sat out in the sun all day—it wasn't discovered until 10pm—without attracting flies. They say he was likely killed right around sunset, while Lobato was with her parents. The state's response: Las Vegas flies don't behave like other flies, and you can't prove they do. Read the full story here for more on one of the stranger legal arguments in recent memory. (Read more Longform stories.)

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