Judges denies bond for man accused of first-degree murder | SteamboatToday.com

Judges denies bond for man accused of first-degree murder

Lucas and Kristen Johnson are being held at the Routt County Jail on suspicion of charges related to first-degree murder.
courtesy/ Routt County Sheriff’s Office

— A Routt County couple is being held at the Routt County Jail on suspicion of charges related to first-degree murder, and authorities still have not disclosed what they know about Edward Zimmerman, who was reported missing Saturday.

After a court hearing Thursday, Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey refused to say who the murder victim was or where the body was found. He said an autopsy was being performed Thursday.

“Positive ID of victim is pending,” Undersheriff Ray Birch said in an email Thursday.

Authorities have been releasing very little information about the case.

Lucas M. Johnson, 38, is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder. His wife, Kristen L. Johnson, 40, is being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and child abuse.

Lucas Johnson was first arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop on suspicion of felony aggravated motor vehicle theft and felony possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana. Birch said Tuesday the case was related to the disappearance of 46-year-old Edward Zimmerman, who lives in Blacktail Mountain Estates between Stagecoach and Steamboat Springs.

After setting bond at $10,000, Judge James Garrecht ordered Lucas Johnson not to have contact with Zimmerman, the victim of the crime.

Before Lucas Johnson was able to bail out of jail, the Sheriff’s Office decided to hold him on suspicion of first-degree murder.

During a hearing Thursday, Lucas Johnson, who is being represented by Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, sat in the courtroom with his head down. Kristen Johnson appeared by video feed and was crying.

Garrecht refused to set a bond for Lucas Johnson, which is not unusual when someone is accused of a Class 1 felony.

Kristen Johnson’s bond was set at $200,000.

Lucas Johnson will appear in court again at 1:30 p.m. Friday, and Kristen Johnson will appear at 1 p.m. Monday.

The District Attorney’s Office has not yet filed formal charges. They have until Friday to file charges against Lucas Johnson and until Monday to file charges against Kristen Johnson, who is being held on a Class 2 felony.

“We may be looking at first-degree murder for her as well,” Barkey said at the hearing.

All the affidavits, search warrants and an arrest warrant have been sealed, which means they are not available for public viewing.

“There are potentially suspects at large,” Barkey said after Thursday’s hearing.

It was revealed in court that Kristen Johnson is the primary caregiver for three children. Their ages are 13, 8 and 4.

“I can tell you that Ms. Johnson is distraught,” said Leslie Goldstein, who was appointed by the court as Kristen Johnson’s attorney.

According to jail records, Kristen Johnson lives at 510 W. Oak Street in Oak Creek, and Lucas Johnson lives in The Pines condominiums.

While arguing for a high bond, Barkey said Kristen Johnson did not have strong ties to the community.

She was arrested Thursday morning on Routt County Road 14 near Thorpe Mountain.

Meanwhile on Thursday, friends and family of Zimmerman were still looking for information about his disappearance.

According to Zimmerman’s sister, Robin Mizerak, who lives in Florida, Zimmerman had been growing a large amount of marijuana at his home, and it appeared some of his marijuana had been chopped down and stolen.

Zimmerman was reported missing Saturday after missing work Friday and Saturday. His dog was found at his home, but his silver Subaru Baja was missing.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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