Inmate who escaped jail had little to lose.

This much we know: The inmate who escaped from the Mesa County Jail early Tuesday morning had little to lose.

In a little more than a week, 40-year-old Shane Edward Johnson, whose criminal case file is a hefty 10 inches thick, was to be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life. A second trial for the felon who sported dozens of convictions, mostly for stealing cars and burglarizing homes, from which he stole drugs and weapons, was set for early November.

Johnson was once dubbed by the county’s top prosecutor, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, “a one-man crime spree” for his numerous, notorious escapades that he accomplished between May 26, 2006 and Aug. 29, 2006.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department officials said Johnson, who was in custody on a no-bond hold, made a late Tuesday night escape after hiding out in the exercise yard after all the inmates had left.

Sheriff’s Department officials said they are uncertain which Sheriff’s Department officials said they are uncertain which direction Johnson fled, indicating he has connections in Colorado Springs, but also to the west in Utah, Nevada and Southern California.

Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Savage, who prosecuted Johnson, was frustrated by the escape.

“I’m not real happy about that,” he said Tuesday from his office, which coincidentally is situated with a window looking out over the roof of the Mesa County Jail.

Savage said he doubts it’s a coincidence that Johnson escaped a little more than a week before he was to be sentenced on 22 charges, which could have put Johnson in prison for more than 150 years.

“He clearly knew he could be in prison for the rest of his life,” Savage said.

Savage said he believes Johnson is an intelligent person with a lot of friends, and those friends may have helped him plan and execute the escape. He considers Johnson to be a dangerous person because every time he burglarized a home, he took any weapons he found.

Savage said he tried the case on grounds that Johnson’s actions were a method to pay for his addiction to prescription medications and methamphetamine. However, when Johnson testified at his own trial, he denied being addicted to drugs and blamed his actions on another man, Steven Appl.

Appl shot a Colorado State Patrol trooper during a traffic stop in Garfield County in October 2006, eluded police for a day, then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide the next night when he was pulled over at a police checkpoint.

At the time of Johnson’s latest trial, Savage said, Johnson’s estranged wife was a woman named Christina Clifton. Savage said he has never heard of Marilynne Ann (Beaman) Johnson, a woman whom authorities say is Johnson’s wife. The Colorado Springs woman is being sought for questioning in the case.

Savage said Johnson started his crime spree May 26, 2006, and committed crimes in rapid succession after bonding out of jail.

After burglarizing homes in Mesa County, he was found in Elko, Nev., after checking into a motel with a stolen credit card. After eluding police there and wrecking a stolen car, he was found hiding in a juniper tree. Two women with Johnson said he was taking them “to the coast,” Savage said.

Johnson bonded out of Mesa County Jail in mid-June of 2006 and stole more cars and guns. He led police on a pursuit July 6 after law enforcement attempted to pull over his stolen vehicle in Whitewater. He fled the vehicle and was found hiding under a rock.

A little more than a month later, after bonding out of jail, Johnson was at it again.

He is accused of stealing a red 1997 BMW from a Fruitvale man, eluding police and crashing the car when they tried to stop him. A jury trial was slated for November.

Johnson also was convicted of aggravated motor vehicle theft in 1998 and first-degree burglary from a 1994 charge in Los Angeles.

Savage said he was prepared to lob habitual criminal charges against Johnson, which could add up to 36 years in prison on top of his 22 felony convictions.

Savage said he doesn’t foresee having to reschedule Johnson’s sentencing date and upcoming trial if Johnson is apprehended within the next week.

“It’s kind of an interesting case,” he said. “I’m pretty sure he’s long gone.”


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