Steamboat Springs This morning, Thomas Lee Johnson is scheduled to formally respond to charges that he snuck into the apartment of a Steamboat Springs woman last May and stabbed her to death.
The 30-year-old Johnson will be asked to enter pleas to first-degree murder, first-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Judge Richard P. Doucette will preside over the arraignment in 14th District Court.
Johnson is suspected of vandalizing in April a car owned by Lori Bases, 31, and then killing her about a month later.
The first-degree murder charge Johnson faces carries a punishment of life imprisonment or death.
But what type of punishment District Attorney Paul McLimans will seek is unclear and may remain so for several more weeks.
"That is something that I can't tell you at this point," McLimans said. "From the time he is arraigned, we will have 60 days to decide.
"That is the deadline. We would have to make a determination and notify the court we are seeking the death penalty."
Johnson is being held in the Routt County Jail without bond. He has been in custody since his arrest last June.
Bases was found dead in her Steamboat Boulevard apartment by her roommate just before 1 a.m. on May 12. She had been stabbed numerous times and had wounds all over her body, including her neck.
Authorities suspect that Johnson was angry at Bases because he believed she was interfering with his relationship with a woman named Kimberly Goodwin, one of Bases' friends.
Johnson married Goodwin in Las Vegas about two weeks after the murder. After Johnson's arrest, Goodwin tried to annul the marriage, claiming Johnson had lied to her about the murder. The two eventually divorced in December.
Soon after the murder, Johnson was interviewed by police but then released. He eventually moved to Sacramento, Calif., with Goodwin.
Johnson rode a bus into Steamboat Springs on June 23 and was arrested that day by police. It is unclear why he returned to town.
Police believed they had enough to arrest Johnson after a Steamboat Springs detective listened in on a phone call he made to his ex-wife, Michelle Linnebur, during which he allegedly admitted killing Bases.
The other two charges Johnson faces stem from the vandalism of Bases' sport-utility vehicle.
On the morning of April 10, Bases discovered her vehicle had been broken into and that the seats and dashboard had been slashed. The next morning, the SUV's tires also were found slashed.