Murder suspect to appear in court


— The man suspected of murdering a local woman in May is expected to appear in a Routt County courtroom today.
Thomas Lee Johnson, 29, will appear in Routt County Court at 9:30 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.
Johnson is charged with two felonies stemming from the May 12 death of 31-year-old Steamboat Springs resident Lori Bases. He also has been charged with two additional felonies due to an April incident, which involved Bases' vehicle.
Bases was found dead by her roommate when he returned home to their apartment at 1620 Steamboat Blvd. in the early morning hours of May 12. She had been stabbed multiple times and had wounds throughout her body, including her neck.
Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder and felony murder.
First-degree murder is defined as the intentional and deliberate killing of a human being, and involves having an opportunity to give it thought, according to District Attorney Paul McLimans.
Felony murder means that while a person is committing a felony, someone is killed. In Johnson's case, the felony is alleged to be attempted first-degree sexual assault.
Both murder charges are Class 1 felonies and carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death.
Thompson has been in custody since his June 23 arrest. He is being held without bond.
According to a court file, Johnson was arrested after police monitored a June 23 telephone conversation in which he allegedly admitted to his ex-wife, Michelle Linnebur, that he planned to hurt Bases when he went to her apartment May 11.
Linnebur told investigators Johnson called her and told her about the murder, the file states.
Johnson allegedly told the woman he divorced in 1996 that "in his planning of the crime he brought with him KY Jelly and condoms to stage a rape and make it look like it was committed by one of Bases' ex-boyfriends," a warrant for his arrest indicates.
Johnson also allegedly told Linnebur he used a stun gun in the attack, the warrant states.
As part of Johnson's arrest, he has been ordered not to have any contact with Linnebur or his current wife, Kimberly Goodwin-Johnson.
Goodwin-Johnson was friends with Bases. She married Johnson May 28 in Nevada.
Goodwin stayed with Bases at the Steamboat Boulevard apartment on April 8, which was a day before Bases reported to police her vehicle had been vandalized.
Johnson has been charged in connection with the vandalism of Bases' Toyota sport utility vehicle. The vehicle's tires, seats and dashboard were slashed.
Johnson has been charged with first-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief, as a result of the damage.
If convicted of the trespass, Johnson faces six months to eights years in prison. The mischief charge carries a punishment of one to 16 years.
Police believe Johnson went to Bases' apartment intending to kill her, however, they have not disclosed a motive for the murder.
Johnson was interviewed by police the day of the murder, and then left town. He had been living in Sacramento, Calif., two weeks prior to his arrest.
Johnson was arrested when he returned to Steamboat Springs on June 23. He was arrested about 7:45 p.m. as he got off a Greyhound bus near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Mount Werner Road.
Police knew Johnson was coming to town because they had been keeping tabs on him while he was in California.

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail


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