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Jury hears taped confession







— The jury in the Thomas Lee Johnson first-degree murder trial Friday heard a taped confession between Johnson and his ex-wife, but it was not necessarily a slam dunk for the prosecution.

The recording was made by former Steamboat detective Rick Crotz while he was investigating the May 2000 Lori Bases murder and talking with Johnson’s ex-wife, Michelle Linnebur, on the Front Range.

Jurors heard a version of the recording, which was enhanced to make it more audible for the jury, but it was still hard to make out what Johnson said to Linnenbur.



Jurors were allowed to review an unofficial transcript of the recording, and Judge Michael O’Hara released the transcript to the media after Friday’s proceedings.

According to the transcript, Johnson said his girlfriend, Michelle Goodwin, wanted him to hurt Bases and make it look like a “sexual thing.”



In return, Goodwin would drop allegations of rape she had made against Johnson.

According to the transcript, Johnson brought a stun gun and condoms.

“It was to hurt her,” Johnson said to Linnenbur. “And as it turned out, I ended up killing her.”

Johnson said he was supposed to make it look like Bases’ roommate committed the act.

Crotz testified Friday that before he was able to start the recording, Johnson was heard telling Linnenbur that he went to Bases’ home on Steamboat Boulevard, an argument ensued, and Bases told Johnson to leave.

Crotz said that Johnson said Bases went to her bedroom to get a knife to defend herself. They then fought on the couch and fell on the floor. That is when Johnson said the knife went through Bases and cut his hand.

On the recording, Johnson did not provide an explanation for why Bases was stabbed and cut about 20 times.

Johnson said he left and went back to check on Bases. She was dead.

“So I just sat there, and I said some prayers and kind of laid my hand on her and did all that and then … and then I … I just left,” Johnson said, according to the transcript.

After police made the recording, Johnson was arrested.

Attorney Randall Salky, who is representing Johnson, asked Crotz if he included in his police report that Johnson said he never intended to kill Bases. Crotz said he did not include that information.

Johnson has had two previous trials. Because of legal technicalities, new trials were ordered.

During this trial, Johnson is claiming he acted in self defense.

Because the trial is behind schedule, the jury will reconvene Monday even though it is Rosh Hashanah.

The prosecution is expected to finish calling witnesses Monday.

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


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