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Mennonite Investigator Sent To Jail For Refusing To Help Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

A Colorado judge ordered a defense investigator to be jailed for refusing to testify for the prosecution in a death penalty case on religious grounds.

Greta Lindecrantz, a defense attorney who opposes capital punishment in accordance with her Mennonite faith, refused to testify in the death row case of Robert Ray and was jailed Monday by order of Judge Michelle Amico, according to The Associated Press. Prosecutors repeatedly asked Lindecrantz to testify about her work on Ray’s defense team to prove that Ray had effective legal representation in his initial trial, but Lindecrantz refused to supply answers that could possibly be used to ensure Ray’s execution.

“Instead of looking at all of the options, the court has chosen the most punitive action to try to break her will,” Mari Newman, Lindecrantz’s attorney, told AP.

Ray’s current defense team are appealing his death sentence on the grounds that his past defense team did not provide adequate or effective legal defense. Lindecrantz worked for the lawyers who initially represented Ray and, according to Newman, current prosecution already has access to her notes and reports from that time. Lindecrantz returned to court Tuesday, this time wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, and again refused to answer the prosecution’s questions and was returned back to jail.

“I’d have no problem saying the truth if death wasn’t on the line,” Lindecrantz told Amico on Monday, according to The Colorado Independent, which originally reported Lindecrantz’s jailing.

“I don’t believe in killing fellow human beings or participating in that,” she added tearfully.

Amico ruled that there is no substitute for Lindecrantz’s testimony and that she must testify since her effectiveness as part of Ray’s defense team has been brought into question. Newman, however, told AP that Lindecrantz believes that being forced to testify in this case was like asking her to fire a gun at Ray without knowing whether the gun was loaded. Amico, nevertheless, ruled that Lindecrantz was in contempt of court and ordered her to be jailed.

Ray and Sir Mario Owens were sentenced to death for gunning down Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee Vivian Wolfe in 2005. Closing arguments for their appeal case were originally scheduled for Wednesday but have been delayed, as the defense argued that they cannot present their arguments since Ray claims that one of the reasons his past defense team was ineffective was because the prosecution withheld evidence from them.

Newman has appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court to protect Lindecrantz’s right not to testify for fear of violating her religious beliefs and to get her out of jail.

“I’m sorry I’m upset about this… I value human life and I’m not a woman raising her fist in the air trying to make a point here. … I’m not that person. I’ve lived my life trying to be a good person and decent person trying to promote and life. When I imagine testifying and I imagine looking at myself in the mirror, I wouldn’t be who I am,” Lindecrantz told the court, according to CI.

“It’s probably unfair for the court to have to vie with God.”

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