Charges filed against Kristen Johnson

Matt Stensland

— The Routt County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed charges against Kristen Johnson, the woman being held in connection with the death of longtime Routt County resident Edward Zimmerman.

Johnson, 40, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree burglary, child abuse, possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute more than 50 pounds of marijuana and theft.

The murder, burglary and theft charges are complicity charges. That means under Colorado law, a person who “with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, …aids, abets, advises or encourages the other person in planning or committing the offense” can be charged and held accountable just the same as the person who actually committed the offense.

Johnson’s husband, Lucas Johnson, 38, has been charged with the same charges but without the complicity designation. He is being held without bond.

With charges filed, Judge James Garrecht ordered during a hearing Thursday that Kristen Johnson be held in custody without the option of posting bond.

The District Attorney’s Office has requested that Lucas and Kristen Johnson’s future hearings be held jointly and that they be tried together as co-defendants.

The hearing in Routt Count Court Thursday was fairly brief because the District Attorney’s Office has requested that the case be moved directly to District Court, where felony cases are heard. At the time of the hearing, District Court Judge Shelley Hill had not decided whether to accept the case.

Steamboat Springs attorney Leslie Goldstein has been appointed to represent Kristen Johnson.

Goldstein filed a motion Wednesday that states information received so far from the District Attorney’s Office has been “paltry.”

“The discovery indicates that Ms. Johnson had absolutely no involvement in the untimely demise of Mr. Zimmerman,” Goldstein wrote.

Johnson is due back in court at 10:30 a.m. April 1.

Lucas Johnson’s preliminary hearing has been set for June 9 and 10.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, the Johnsons broke into Zimmerman’s home and stole between $5,000 and $20,000 worth of marijuana.

The Sheriff’s Office has not said where Zimmerman’s remains were found.

A preliminary autopsy report showed that Zimmerman was brutally killed. His body had “sharp force injuries of the neck” and he was shot in the face, strangled and had blunt force injuries to the head.

Zimmerman was reported missing Feb. 28 after he did not show up for work the two previous days.

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

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