Criminal Justice, Open Records

Convict was arrested by DOC weeks before allegedly murdering homeless man

Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson

A convict who supposedly exemplified the success of new parole models but is now facing murder charges following a New Year’s Day stabbing death in an alley near downtown Denver previously had raised a series of red flags for authorities, both before and after his release from prison, according to documents obtained by Complete Colorado.

The heavily redacted documents, taken from a log maintained by the Colorado Department of Corrections, show even the suspect himself, while still an inmate, at one point had sternly warned authorities of his own propensity for violence.

Complete Colorado first broke the news in January that Calvin Johnson, arrested shortly after the slaying of of Teodoro Leon III, had been touted to state lawmakers just two weeks earlier as a model of successful parole reforms by Deputy Director of Parole Alison Morgan. Yet, the log in which DOC tracked all contact between Johnson and department staff reveal a troubling history that arguably should have given officials pause.

An entry last Oct. 13 from parole supervisor Andrew Zavaras reads:

“Its (sic) reported that [subject] was being aggressive and intimidating [redacted] at his intake today. This has become a pattern of behavior with this offender. He would not sign the paperwork [redacted] gave him without adding a bunch of his own conditions to them. It is this supervisors (sic) opinion that offender is currently a risk to public safety and to the staff that come in contact with him.” Zavaras goes on to recommend that parole officers arrest Johnson and present parole board, “so they can make a decision on how best to proceed with this offender.”

Johnson was arrested that same day—but he never did go before the parole board as recommended.

“The (log reflects) Supervisor Zavaras’ opinion regarding Mr. Johnson’s behavior on 10/13/15 and the justification and approval for the CPO to make an arrest,” DOC spokeswoman Laurie Kilpatrick confirmed by email. “Upon arrest for a technical violation, a range of options are considered based on the totality of the circumstance.  Factors to consider include, but are not limited to, the offender’s risk score, the level of the supervision violation, the presence or absence of criminal charges, and overall adjustment under supervision.  The final decision was to increase the level of Mr. Johnson’s supervision and continue to work with him and our community partners to manage him in the community.”

Prison Cell Bed closed
Stock image

And according to another log entry, only minutes after Johnson was picked up by parole officers, staff discovered he had had two police contacts that went unreported to his parole officer.

Still, two weeks after that arrest by DOC, Johnson was released.

Log entries from November show a separate incident that once again demonstrated Johnson’s difficulties integrating into regular society. Johnson had gone to an Army surplus store intending to buy a tent in which he would live. While there, Johnson got into an argument with an employee.

In December, new problems arose and this time escalated more quickly. A log entry states that while out on parole Johnson checked into a case management program for a urinalysis test. Johnson began spewing sexually-laced profanities at the staff and, “told a female staff[er] that he had a gun.” The log entry goes on to say that Johnson, “did not leave even after staff asked him to leave multiple times. Eventually, staff grabbed his belongings and escorted him off the premises. [Redacted] stated that his staff is very rattled by this [intake].”

Johnson was not arrested after the incident.

Prior to being placed on parole, Johnson had other telling log entries.

An entry from Feb. 19, 2015, posted by a programs manager while Johnson was behind bars, reads:

“I met with JOHNSON on 2/10/15 and 2/17/15 to discuss grievances he filed with the library. I encouraged him to progress, so he can go to the Library on his own. Today, I received a [email] from JOHNSON stating, ‘You keep saying the same thing over and over that I should go to general population. You should really research my records before you get stuck on statements like that because I’m barely avoiding having to be violent where I’m at now and I’m on a special tier. It’s not like I have a choice. Most inmates are born the way they are and I was born the way I am and the only way I mix with most of them is violently. I can’t help or change that. It’s not within anybody’s power to change that. It’s just the way it will always be.’ I responded with an inspirational quote about change being up to him and told him he controls his destiny.”

Seventeen of the 22 log entries that immediately followed Johnson’s arrest by parole officers in October are completely redacted. When providing the documents, former DOC spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson told Complete Colorado that all redactions covered “protected health information as well as information currently subject to open investigation.”

According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation criminal history records, Johnson was acquitted in 2006 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder after deliberation.

And in 2007, Johnson also beat charges of assault with a deadly weapon and felony menacing, but was found guilty of felony property damage from the same incident which ultimately led to his prison sentence.

*Correction: Our original headline said Johnson had his parole revoked. While he was arrested at the sole discretion of DOC employees who thought he was a danger to the public, the arrest was not technically a revocation. We regret the error.

Send us tips at CompleteColorado@gmail.com.

Calvin Johnson DOC chron log WM




*Correction: Based on early press releases from the Denver Police Department and Denver District Attorney, the first edition of this article incorrectly identified the victim of the alleged murder as Leon Teodora. The victim’s name is Teodoro Leon III.

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