Former boyfriend of victim gives conflicting testimony |

Former boyfriend of victim gives conflicting testimony

Gary E. Salazar

— Lori Bases’ former boyfriend gave conflicting testimony Thursday that left at least one member of the jury confused during the murder trial of Thomas Lee Johnson.

Ron Farmer testified for more than two hours Thursday, often rocking back and forth in the witness chair.

Farmer testified Bases, a woman he lived with for nine months in an apartment on Steamboat Boulevard, was neither afraid nor sleeping with a knife in May 2000. Farmer also testified Bases did not get paranoid when she used cocaine.

But Farmer’s testimony was very different from statements he gave investigators days after Bases was killed the evening of May 11, 2000. According to those interviews, Farmer described Bases as being frightened May 11 and paranoid because of cocaine use.

Johnson’s attorneys, Norm Townsend and Eric Vanatta, contend Bases attacked Johnson with a knife first and that he killed her in self-defense.

Johnson, 31, is on trial for first-degree murder.

During questioning by 14th Judicial District Attorney Paul McLimans, Farmer testified Bases had used cocaine the evening of May 10. Farmer testified that when the 31-year-old woman used cocaine, she liked to play the card game “solitaire and call friends but was never aggressive or violent.”

McLimans also questioned Farmer about the knife Bases kept in her bedroom following the vandalism of her sport utility vehicle April 9, 2000. Johnson has been charged with criminal mischief and trespass in connection to the vandalism.

Farmer testified Bases kept the knife in a stand next to her bed “not more than a week” after the vandalism.

During the testimony, Farmer picked out the butcher knife from a knife set that belonged to Bases.

“In May, all the knives were back in the kitchen,” Farmer said. Farmer also testified Bases was not frightened the day she died and had called him at work to see if he wanted to get ice cream. During cross-examination, Townsend asked Farmer about the statements he gave to investigators May 13 and May 15.

According to the transcripts from the interviews, Farmer told investigators when Bases used cocaine, she became “very paranoid.”

The transcripts also show Farmer told investigators Bases was afraid on May 11 and called him twice to find out when he would be home. Farmer was unable to show police which knife she kept in her bedroom.

When asked about the statements he made to police during those two interviews, Farmer would reply with, “It says I said that, but I don’t recall saying it.”

Farmer also testified he could not recall the two interviews with investigators.

“At the time, I was on a sedative,” Farmer said. “A lot of things I said after the murder, I was not aware I was saying it.

“I’m not saying I didn’t say it, but I don’t recall saying it.”

During a break in Farmer’s testimony, a juror submitted a question to Justice Joseph P. Quinn, who is presiding over the case. The juror questioned if they were to believe Farmer’s testimony or rely on the statements he gave to police.

Quinn said he will instruct the jury at the end of the trial regarding witness testimony.

Townsend said he plans to call the investigators to the witness stand to testify about the statements Farmer gave after the murder.

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