Thursday, October 12, 2000
Steamboat Springs An annulment hearing for accused murderer Thomas Lee Johnson and his estranged wife Kimberly Goodwin-Johnson has been postponed indefinitely.
Goodwin-Johnson, who filed for the annulment, and her husband were expected to appear in Routt County Judge James Garrecht's courtroom at noon today, but attorneys for both parties agreed to vacate the scheduled hearing.
Goodwin-Johnson is seeking the annulment to end her 4-month-old marriage to Johnson, who faces murder charges in connection with the death of Goodwin-Johnson's best friend, Lori Bases of Steamboat Springs.
According to the court clerk, the hearing has been postponed until both parties deem it appropriate to reschedule.
Neither the plaintiff nor the defendant's attorney could be reached for comment Thursday. Ron Smith, Johnson's attorney, is out of town until Tuesday. Goodwin-Johnson's attorney, Randall Klauzer, did not return phone calls. Originally from Longmont, Johnson was arrested June 23 on suspicion of stabbing Bases to death May 11. Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder and felony murder. Both charges carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death. He is being held in the Routt County Jail without bond.
Goodwin-Johnson has said she was "emotionally fragile" when Johnson suggested they take a trip to Las Vegas at the end of May. The two were married May 28, just 17 days after Bases was killed.
Goodwin-Johnson left her husband June 21, two days before he was arrested in Steamboat Springs after arriving on a bus from California.
In her affidavit seeking the annulment, Goodwin-Johnson stated she believed Johnson when he told her he had nothing to do with Bases' death. However, she is now reportedly convinced that Johnson did kill her friend.
A previous court hearing raised two legal issues that cloud the annulment request.
The first goes to the heart of the plaintiff's case. Goodwin-Johnson wants an annulment because she believes Johnson lied to her and did in fact kill Bases. For that case to be successful, Goodwin's attorney would likely have to prove in civil court that Johnson did commit the capital crime. What could make that case awkward would be for it to be heard prior to any criminal trial. The postponement makes that less likely to occur.
The second issue is whether Goodwin-Johnson could be forced to testify against Johnson in his murder trial if the annulment were granted. As his wife or former wife, marital privilege would prevent her from being required to testify. However, an annulment would wipe out the marriage and that privilege.
As for a motive in the killing, authorities have speculated that Johnson thought Bases was interfering with his relationship with Goodwin.
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