Murder case hearing delayed by evidence

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— Results from evidence sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's crime laboratory will delay a preliminary hearing for a man suspected of murdering a local woman in May.
Thomas Lee Johnson, 29, made a brief court appearance Monday morning in Routt County Judge James Garrecht's courtroom.
A preliminary hearing had been scheduled for Johnson, who is believed to have killed 31-year-old Lori Bases, but without results from evidence being analyzed by CBI, lawyers on both sides asked for more time.
Bases was found dead by her roommate when he returned to their apartment, 1620 Steamboat Blvd., in the early morning hours of May 12. She had been stabbed numerous times and had wounds throughout her body, including her neck.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James and Johnson's attorney, Norm Townsend, both asked Garrecht for a continuance in the case.
Garrecht agreed with the two attorneys and scheduled a status hearing for 1 p.m. Oct. 25.
On that day, Garrecht will check on the progress of the case, St. James said.
"Hopefully, we can set a date for a preliminary hearing in October," he said.
After the May 12 murder, police sent blood and clothing samples and other evidence to the state's laboratory for analysis, said J.D. Hays, director of public safety services.
At that time, Hays was told by CBI officials the results from the evidence would be available within 60 to 90 days, he said.
"We were expecting results from the laboratory a few weeks ago," Hays said. "The time frame they gave us has passed. We have not got anything back yet."
Pete Mang, deputy director of the CBI, could not give any information about when the results from the evidence would be available.
"We do not release that type of information," Mang said. "We keep our discussions between the laboratory and the local agency."
The time frame it takes for the crime laboratory to analyze evidence "depends on the size of the case and how much evidence is looked at," Mang said.
The delay in the case does not violate Johnson's right to a speedy trial, St. James said.
Johnson's "speedy trial right does not start until he is arraigned," he said. "An arraignment comes after a preliminary hearing."
Johnson has been charged with two felonies: first-degree murder and felony murder.
First-degree murder is defined as the intentional and deliberate killing of a human being and involves 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 charges are Class 1 felonies and carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death.
Johnson has been in custody since June 23. 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 admitted to his ex-wife, Michelle Linnebur, that he planned to hurt Bases and stage a rape when he went to her apartment May 11.
As part of Johnson's arrest, he has been ordered not to have any contact with Linnebur or his current wife, Kimberly Goodwin-Johnson. The two were married May 28 in Nevada.
Goodwin stayed with Bases at her apartment 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.
Along with the two murder charges, Johnson has been charged with first-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief.
If convicted of the trespass, Johnson faces six months to eights years in prison. The mischief carries a punishment of one to 16 years.

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail gsalazar@amigo.net

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