Jurors get glimpse of murder scene | SteamboatToday.com

Jurors get glimpse of murder scene

Gary E. Salazar

— A graphic video that police shot of Lori Bases when she was found dead in her Steamboat Springs apartment last year was shown Thursday to the jury in the Thomas Lee Johnson murder trial.

Steamboat Springs Police Detective Robert DelValle narrated the 12-minute video during the second day of testimony in Johnson’s trial.

The eight-woman, four-man panel paid close attention to the television monitor throughout DelValle’s testimony. Some of the jurors sat on the edge of their seats to get a good look at the video that showed Bases dead in a pool of blood.

The video was shown to the jury by the prosecution, who submitted the video as evidence to support its claim Johnson not only killed Bases the evening of May 11, 2000, but also planned to do so beforehand.

The graphic evidence is expected to continue when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. today at the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins. Prosecutors are expected to call to the witness stand the doctor who performed Bases’ autopsy May 13.

The jury is expected to see 15 photographs that were taken during the autopsy.

Justice Joseph P. Quinn, who is presiding over the case, called the pictures “gruesome” after looking at the images Thursday afternoon. Johnson is on trial for first-degree murder. The 31-year-old man has also been charged with criminal trespass and mischief for allegedly vandalizing Bases’ sport utility vehicle about a month before the woman’s death.

Johnson’s court-appointed attorneys, Norm Townsend and Eric Vanatta, are arguing Johnson killed the woman in self-defense.

DelValle testified Bases died at about 6:45 p.m. on May 11. After getting a search warrant, police videotaped the crime scene at about 6 a.m. May 12, 2000. The video shows DelValle and other police officers entering the Steamboat Boulevard apartment.

In the living room, the video shows the officers looking around the apartment with flashlights.

Bases, who was found lying face down, can be seen in the background. As the video unfolded, DelValle testified officers found blood on a recliner to a sectional couch. Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Paul McLimans and Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James contend Bases was sitting on the couch when she was attacked.

DelValle also testified blood was found on a wall close to where the 31-year-old woman was found lying. Most of the blood in the apartment was found around Bases’ head, DelValle said.

Before the video was shown to the jury, Bases’ family left the courtroom. Johnson’s mother also left during the testimony, but his father remained in the courtroom.

Johnson sat with his attorneys and viewed DelValle’s presentation. Prior to the video, DelValle, wearing surgical gloves, showed the jury the red plaid pajama bottoms Bases was wearing at the time of her death. The detective also showed the jury the black T-shirt Bases was wearing. Both items of clothing were removed from brown paper bags and unwrapped from white paper, which was stained with blood.

DelValle also showed the jury the bloody throw rug Bases was lying on.

Vanatta asked DelValle on cross-examination about Bases’ right hand. DelValle testified he did not find blood in the palm of Bases’ right hand.

Johnson’s defense team contends Bases, who is right-handed, attacked Johnson with a knife.

So far, McLimans and St. James have called 14 witnesses to testify and submitted 60 exhibits as evidence.

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