Thursday, September 27, 2007
Steamboat Springs Thomas Lee Johnson's second murder trial will take place in Fort Collins.
Jon Sarche, a spokesman for the State Court Administrator's Office, said Wednesday that chief judges in the 8th Judicial District, where Fort Collins is located, and the 14th Judicial District spoke on Wednesday regarding the case and decided that "under the language of the (Colorado) Court of Appeals opinion, that the case must go back to the 8th Judicial District for retrial."
Johnson's 2001 trial was moved to Fort Collins because of pretrial publicity.
District Judge Daniel Kaup will hear the retrial, Sarche said.
Wednesday's decision comes on the heels of the Sept. 10 decision by the Colorado Supreme Court denying the state's request to reconsider a 2006 Court of Appeals decision granting Johnson a new trial. Johnson was granted a new trial because of an error in the instructions given to the 12-member jury that found him guilty of first-degree murder in the May 2000 killing of Steamboat Springs resident Lori Lyn Bases. Bases was found in her Steamboat Springs home after being stabbed more than 20 times in her throat, back, arms and legs. An autopsy revealed that Bases bled to death.
Johnson is currently serving a life sentence without parole in Sterling.
The Colorado Supreme Court had not sent Johnson's case file to the 8th Judicial District as of Wednesday afternoon, Sarche said. Once the 8th Judicial District receives the case file, speedy-trial requirements will be triggered, he said.
Unless Johnson's defense waives his rights, the case must be tried within six months, he said.
Sarche said he did not know when the 8th Judicial District would receive the file.
In other action
• Routt County Court Judge James Garrecht ordered that previously sealed records in the Luz Cisneros murder case be made public during a lengthy court hearing Wednesday.
Garrecht made the decision based on his belief that the press' constitutional rights to court documents would not jeopardize Cisneros' rights to a fair trial.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James and public defenders Emily Wickham and Sheryl Uhlmann, who are representing Cisneros, vehemently opposed Garrecht releasing the documents, arguing that the information could taint potential jury pools and could force the trial to be moved to a location outside of Routt County.
Cisneros was arrested Sept. 7 on suspicion of killing her 1-year-old daughter Brianna Simon during an argument she had with Brianna's father. Cisneros is being charged with first-degree murder and could face life in prison or death if she is convicted. Wednesday's hearing was the first time Cisneros has appeared in court since returning from custody in Pueblo on Monday night.
Requests to obtain all the previously sealed documents in the case have been submitted to the courts, and are expected for review today.
• A $10,000 bond was set Monday in the case of a Yampa man accused of leaving a Mexican sheepherder for dead after a rollover accident Sept. 16 near Yampa.
Howard Scott Williamson, 42, was arrested Sept. 20 on suspicion of criminally negligent homicide, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, careless driving resulting in death and failing to report an accident. Williamson, who appeared in court Wednesday, is scheduled to return to Routt County Court at 10 a.m. Oct. 3.