Thursday, February 22, 2001
Steamboat Springs The attorney for suspected murderer Thomas Lee Johnson said Thursday he has received much of the evidence he requested regarding the case but is still missing blood and fingerprint test results.
The first of two motion hearings is scheduled for this morning, but Johnson's attorney, Norm Townsend, said he believes it will be a brief court proceeding because of recent cooperation shown by the District Attorney's office.
Prior to the Jan. 16 arraignment of Johnson, who is accused of killing Steamboat Springs resident Lori Bases last May, Townsend filed two motions claiming Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James had not turned over evidence prosecutors must provide according to state statute.
Since Townsend filed the motion, he said his office has been inundated with evidence provided by the District Attorney's office.
"It shook the tree in a major way," Townsend said Thursday. "I have received 2,000 pages of documents, 43 audiotapes and a videotape of the crime scene.
"As far as I can tell, we have been provided with about 90 percent of what we have requested. Within a day or two after the motions were filed, the evidence started to come in and it hasn't stopped."
Because of the steady stream of evidence his office has received, Townsend expects for the 10 a.m. hearing in front of 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson to proceed fairly quickly, he said.
Johnson, 30, has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief in connection with the death of the 31-year-old woman and the vandalism of her sport-utility vehicle last spring.
Although Townsend has received the majority of the evidence he is seeking, he is frustrated it took about seven months to get it.
According to state statute, a prosecutor is to produce police, arrest and crime reports, including statements of all witnesses and any books, papers, documents, photographs or tangible objects held as evidence in connection with the case. A prosecutor is to produce this evidence no later than 20 calendar days after the defendant's first appearance or following the filing of charges.
Johnson was arrested June 23 and charged five days later.
St. James would not comment on why the evidence was not provided to Townsend earlier.
For this morning's hearing, Townsend is requesting Thompson to rule on evidence regarding blood and fingerprint tests conducted by criminalists at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's laboratory, he said.
Townsend said he believes he is entitled to notes and other documents that are pertinent to the tests.
Initially, Townsend filed the motions to get copies of notes, printouts, graphs, charts, photographs, transcripts and video- and cassette tapes authorities have compiled in their investigation into Bases' death.
Among the evidence Townsend was seeking and has received include a copy of a videotape of the crime scene made the day Bases' body was discovered in her apartment and transcripts, notes and audiotapes investigators made when they monitored a conversation between Johnson and his ex-wife, Michelle Linnebur.
According to court documents, Johnson allegedly confessed to killing Bases when he spoke to Linnebur by telephone June 23.
Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Richard Crotz listened in on the conversation, court records show.