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Ex-wife testifies

Kim Goodwin tells of rocky relationship with Thomas Lee Johnson

Gary E. Salazar

— Nearly 40 days passed before Kimberly Goodwin had any suspicion that her husband killed her best friend in Steamboat Springs the evening of May 11, 2000.

For about three hours Monday afternoon, Goodwin testified about her two-year relationship with Thomas Lee Johnson, who is on trial for murder in connection with the death of 31-year-old Lori Bases.

Goodwin, dressed in a black sweater and gold dress, answered questions by Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James for about two hours. Goodwin is expected to return to the witness stand at 9 a.m. today at the Larimer County Courthouse in Fort Collins. Johnson’s attorney, Norm Townsend, is in the midst of cross-examining her.

During Goodwin’s testimony, she and Johnson locked eyes on numerous occasions.

Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder. He is accused of stabbing Bases to death at her Steamboat Springs apartment. He also faces charges of criminal mischief and trespass for allegedly vandalizing Bases’ vehicle about a month before she was killed.

Prosecutors claim Johnson planned to kill Bases because she was interfering with his relationship with Goodwin. Johnson’s attorneys claim Bases tried to attack Johnson with a knife and that he killed her in self defense.

Goodwin married Johnson on May 28 in Las Vegas, but it was not until June 20, 2000, that she realized Johnson had killed someone she “loved very much.”

By that time, Goodwin and Johnson had moved to a Sacramento, Calif., suburb.

“I had no indication,” Goodwin said when asked about Johnson’s connection to Bases’ death.

Goodwin got suspicious of her husband, whom she claims raped her in April 2000, when she found a false driver’s license and a rental car receipt dated May 11, 2000, the day Bases was killed.

“I started wondering if, ‘Oh my God, he killed Lori,'” she said. “So I called police and told them what I found.”

Steamboat Springs police arrested Johnson a few days later. The couple divorced in December 2000.

Goodwin testified she met Johnson when the two were students at Longmont High School but she said she did not become romantically involved with him until 1998. At the time, Goodwin was renting a room in her Longmont home when Johnson answered a newspaper ad. The two became involved shortly after Johnson moved in with her in August 1998.

“It was a roller coaster,” Goodwin said of the relationship. “It was off and on.”

In the spring of 2000, the relationship reached a critical point. At the beginning of April, the couple broke up and Johnson moved out of the house and relocated to Denver.

On the evening of April 7, the relationship took a major turn. The couple decided to meet in Denver for dinner to talk about their relationship.

After dinner, Goodwin agreed to stay at Johnson’s Denver apartment but later changed her mind and drove home and called Johnson on his cellular phone. “I wanted time alone,” Goodwin said. “I had a lot on my mind.” While the two talked, Johnson was driving to Goodwin’s home without her knowledge.

“He said I needed a hug,” Goodwin said.

Later in the evening, Goodwin agreed to let Johnson stay the night at her home but stressed she did not want to have sex. Goodwin claims Johnson later raped her when he took a consensual sexual activity too far.

“I was crying so hard, I was having trouble breathing,” Goodwin said of the alleged assault.

Out of fear, Goodwin said she fled her home and went to a local hospital’s emergency room. There, Goodwin was treated for her injuries and gave a statement to Weld County Sheriff’s deputies.

The next day, Goodwin called Bases and was invited to spend the weekend with her friend. During the weekend, the two talked about moving in together, Goodwin said.

“She didn’t want me to be with Thomas anymore,” Goodwin said of Bases. “She thought he was abusive.”

On the morning of April 10, Bases found her 1999 black Toyota RAV 4 damaged. Johnson allegedly slashed the vehicle’s tires, interior and seats. The damage totaled $4,500.

Later in the month, Goodwin called Weld County investigators to tell them to drop the sexual assault investigation.

“I wanted the charge dropped, so the children could see their father,” Goodwin said of Johnson’s three children from a previous marriage. In early May, Goodwin said the relationship was coming to an end because she did not want to move with Johnson to Colorado Springs. On May 9, Goodwin said she told Johnson the relationship was “over.” Johnson “didn’t want to accept that,” Goodwin said. “He was losing control and he didn’t like that.”

At the time, Goodwin said she and Bases planned to move in together at the end of July.

“We talked about selling my house and moving to California,” Goodwin said.

The women never moved in together because Johnson stabbed Bases more than 20 times. The woman’s neck, back, arms and legs were stabbed and slashed. After Bases’ death, Johnson drove to Texas, where Townsend claims his client threw an engagement ring he bought for Goodwin into the Gulf of Mexico. Johnson then drove to Wisconsin, where he stayed with his brother, Scott Johnson, for about two weeks.

Scott Johnson, 32, testified Monday morning that his brother was “depressed” and “suicidal” when he got to his home in northern Wisconsin. “He told me he did not have anything to do with (Bases’) death,” Scott Johnson said.

In Wisconsin, Johnson testified his younger brother used his identity to get a Wisconsin driver’s license and apply for a passport. “He told me he wanted to go to Cancun, Mexico,” Scott Johnson said. His brother later reconsidered and the two drove from Wisconsin to Colorado at the end of May.

Back in Colorado, Thomas Johnson talked with Goodwin and suggested they go to Las Vegas and get married.

“He behaved like normal,” Goodwin said. “Like nothing was bothering him.” Goodwin testified she was vulnerable at the time she decided to go to Nevada and get married.

“I just lost one of the persons I loved very much,” said Goodwin, fighting back tears. “He was comforting me. He was being supportive.”

Townsend questioned Goodwin for less than an hour before the trial was suspended for the day. Townsend attacked Goodwin’s credibility and called her a “liar” because she recanted the sexual assault.

“We know you are a liar,” Townsend said. “When it suits your purpose, you lie.”


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