Plea deal possible in Zimmerman homicide case
Lucas Johnson could be sentenced to 48 years in prison
Steamboat Springs — During court Tuesday, it was revealed that Lucas Johnson, the man accused of murdering Steamboat Springs resident Ed Zimmerman, is considering pleading to second-degree murder and a sentence of 48 years in prison.
The details of the plea agreement are still being negotiated.
“We’re going to continue to negotiate,” Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, who is representing Johnson, told Judge Shelley Hill.
Johnson’s three-day preliminary hearing was scheduled to begin Tuesday. With the plea deal on the table, Johnson could plead guilty to the second-degree murder charge during an Oct. 21 hearing.
Johnson remains in custody, and his wife, Kristen Johnson, has been charged as an accessory to the Zimmerman murder.
Kristen Johnson was also scheduled for a preliminary hearing, but it was cancelled during a court appearance Monday. At the hearing, Hill, the prosecution and the defense agreed to release Kristen Johnson on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. She now has a status conference scheduled for Nov. 5.
The Johnsons have three children.
“Both Lucas and Kristen Johnson chose to waive their right to a preliminary hearing in order to allow both sides more time to analyze how these cases should proceed,” District Attorney Brett Barkey said in a news release Tuesday.
“This is a common occurrence in the criminal justice system, and they retain the right to proceed to trial,” Barkey explained. “They are both presumed innocent, and in order to maintain the integrity of the criminal justice process, it would be inappropriate to release any additional information at this time.”
The Johnsons were charged after Zimmerman’s body was found March 4 in a shed outside the Johnsons’ rental home in rural Routt County between Steamboat and Stagecoach. Zimmerman was reported missing Feb. 28 after not showing up for work.
According to court documents, prosecutors believed Zimmerman was murdered, and the Johnsons stole Zimmerman’s medical marijuana plants.
A friend told investigators Zimmerman at one point said there had had been a falling out with Lucas Johnson over money.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
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