DA gives out information on former detective | CraigDailyPress.com

DA gives out information on former detective

Arrest could affect more than 100 cases

Collin Smith

For the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the time put toward digging through old case files since former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson’s arrest has been incalculable, officials said.

“I wouldn’t even know how to give a number,” District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said. “It’s been an arduous process, but we’re trying to provide all the information to anyone who may need it.”

Johnson was arrested in late September and then charged Oct. 2 with three felonies: attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony; accessory to crime, a Class 5 felony; and embezzlement of public property, also a Class 5 felony.

Before his arrest, however, Johnson worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office on several felony cases as a police officer.

Since charges were filed against the former detective, Oldham has directed her staff to provide accounts of the evidence against Johnson to every defendant Johnson filed a report against or assisted in investigating since October 2007.

Officials think the final tally of cases will total more than 100.

The date corresponds to one particular case that may be most affected by Johnson’s arrest: the investigation of James Jerome Barry, who was sentenced the following year to 24 years in prison at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex.

Barry was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting local woman Tausha Merwin, who Johnson is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with during his time as a police officer.

All of the criminal charges against Johnson stem from his relationship with Merwin.

Prosecutors allege he helped her violate her probation for two drug offenses, provided her with information about ongoing law enforcement investigations, gave her a laptop computer owned by law enforcement and asked her to lie to police officials during an internal affairs investigation into Johnson’s behavior.

“We’re taking cases from October 2007 on because that is when it seems possible (Johnson’s) criminal behavior began,” Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Snow said, referring to when Johnson first became involved with Tausha’s kidnapping and Barry’s investigation.

Specifically regarding Barry, Johnson assisted in his criminal investigation and testified as a rebuttal witness at his trial, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed against Johnson in Moffat County Court.

Barry could not be reached for comment, but Snow said he has not heard of anyone contacting the District Attorney’s Office with plans to appeal or request a retrial for a previous conviction.

Oldham said the fact that Johnson’s case is being shared does not mean any cases will be appealed or retried. Generally speaking, there are a host of other issues, such as physical evidence and other testimony, which could corroborate convictions.

However, the District Attorney added her office cannot assume how Johnson’s case will impact others.

“We don’t have a problem with doing it, because we recognize it is our obligation to do so,” Oldham said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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