More than 100 pounds of marijuana was seized from Johnson residence
Steamboat Springs — Court documents show that law enforcement officials seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana from an unspecified residence where Lucas and Kristen Johnson lived.
The couple is being held at the Routt County Jail on suspicion of charges related to first-degree murder. The case involves the death of Routt County resident Edward Zimmerman, 46, who was reported missing March 7. His remains were discovered last week.
On Monday, the District Attorney’s Office filed a notice of its intent to destroy the seized marijuana, which was described as being “illegally grown.” The District Attorney’s Office photographed and took samples of the marijuana but does not have the “means nor the will” to preserve the marijuana, the court document states.
Medical marijuana at one Steamboat dispensary on Tuesday was being legally sold for $250 per ounce. At that price, the retail value of the seized marijuana is more than $400,000.
There is no indication whether the seized marijuana came from Zimmerman’s home between Steamboat Springs and Stagecoach.
Zimmerman’s sister, Robin Mizerak, said last week that after Zimmerman went missing, it was discovered that 15 of her brother’s marijuana plants had been chopped down and taken. Another 20 plants in another room were knocked over and “every bit of pot that he had there was either gone or destroyed,” Mizerak said.
Lucas Johnson was originally arrested Tuesday after Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies discovered him driving a car that belonged to Zimmerman. Johnson was arrested on suspicion of felony aggravated motor vehicle theft and felony possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana. Authorities have not disclosed where they believe the marijuana came from.
Later in the week, the Sheriff’s Office decided to hold Johnson on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Kristen Johnson was arrested Thursday and is being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Police searched Zimmerman’s home in March 2014
Just a year ago, Zimmerman and his home on Yellow Jacket Drive were the subject of a police investigation involving marijuana. Zimmerman was never charged with a crime.
On March 6, 2014, officers with the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force searched two homes in Steamboat, as well as Zimmerman’s home.
Two men were subsequently charged with felonies related to marijuana drug laws and ended up pleading guilty to tax evasion as part of a plea deal. According to an arrest warrant, the men were suspected of mailing marijuana from Steamboat to the Chicago area. The marijuana was being grown for medical use at a Steamboat home and at Zimmerman’s home.
The arrest warrant did not detail how and if Zimmerman was suspected of being involved in the operation. In the warrant, a Sheriff’s Office deputy described Zimmerman’s growing operation as sophisticated. Zimmerman told the deputy his growing equipment cost between $40,000 and $50,000.
Judge responds to request to limit pretrial publicity
After a request by the Public Defender’s Office to limit pretrial publicity about the case, Routt County Judge James Garrecht issued an order Friday.
Pretrial publicity has already been limited because all the search warrants and affidavits related to the case have been sealed.
In his order, Garrecht listed the already-established rules that lawyers and police are expected to follow in criminal cases. For example, police are forbidden from the “deliberate exposure of a person in custody for the purpose of photographing or televising by representatives of the news media.”
The District Attorney’s Office has not yet filed charges against the Johnsons. That is expected to happen by the end of the day Friday.
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