Preliminary hearing scheduled for man charged with murder | CraigDailyPress.com

Preliminary hearing scheduled for man charged with murder

Matt Stensland

Lucas Johnson

— A preliminary hearing has been set for June 9 and 10 for Lucas Johnson, the man who has been charged with murdering longtime Routt County resident Edward Zimmerman.

Johnson appeared in court Monday in custody with attorneys from the Routt County Public Defender's Office.

Several legal issues were discussed during the hearing, including what to do with more than 100 pounds of marijuana plants that were seized from Johnson's home. District Attorney Brett Barkey told Judge Shelley Hill that his office photographed the marijuana and took samples, and there was no reason for them to hold onto the marijuana as evidence.

"We think it's hazardous to keep around, and expensive," Barkey said.

Hill granted the request to destroy the marijuana.

The judge also considered a request from Johnson's attorneys, who want access to Zimmerman's house so they can conduct their own investigation of the crime scene.

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Johnson's attorneys have been given the option of going to the house while being supervised by a Routt County Sheriff's Office deputy.

Johnson's attorneys do not want to be supervised.

Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann said she and her office still have not learned where Zimmerman's body was found.

"What we know is there was an extremely large grow operation at Mr. Zimmerman's home," Uhlmann said.

She said there were other people with a financial interest in the grow operation who had access to the home, which Zimmerman rented.

"We need to have access, and we need to have access soon," Uhlmann said.

Hill denied the request

"I don't think you've established your right to get into the house," Hill said.

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

Johnson was arrested March 3 during a traffic stop. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he was driving Zimmerman’s car. Zimmerman’s body was found at about 12:15 a.m. March 4.

According to the charges, Johnson broke into Zimmerman's home on Yellow Jacket Drive between Steamboat Springs and Stagecoach and stole Zimmerman's marijuana, valued at between $5,000 and $20,000.

Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree burglary, child abuse, theft, aggravated motor vehicle theft and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Johnson's wife, Kristen Johnson, was arrested March 5 during a traffic stop. She is being held on a $200,000 bond on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Kristen Johnson returns to court at 1:30 p.m. March 26. Formal charges must be filed against her by that date.

At Lucas Johnson’s preliminary hearing in June, Hill will determine what charges the District Attorney’s Office can proceed with. Hill will also determine whether to set a bond for Johnson.

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