By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver woman is spending a third night behind bars after refusing to testify in a death penalty case, arguing it goes against the fundamentals of her Mennonite faith.
“My faith isn’t going to change. No matter how many days I spend in court and I want you to know I respect you,” an emotional Greta Lindecrantz told District Court Judge Michelle Amico Wednesday.
Amico said she had no doubt in the sincerity of her faith, but found no legal basis for her refusal.
Lindecrantz, 67, appeared in handcuffs and uniform Wednesday. Attorney Mari Newman, who is working pro bono for her, pleaded with the judge to release Lindecrantz saying she had fallen extremely ill and was throwing up.
“Ms. Lindecrantz, as the court saw this morning has been very sick, she’s been throwing up all morning. The court would not hear it,” said Newman who filed an emergency appeal to get her client out of jail. “It is not achieving any goal whatsoever to continue to hold her in the jail while this case happens.”
Newman argues, there is a legal basis.
“She has her first amendment right not to be compelled to testify in a matter that is against her fundamental religious faith,” she said.
Lindecrantz is a civil defense investigator and was hired by the defense team of Robert Ray. Ray was convicted of orchestrating the 2005 shooting deaths of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancèe Vivian Wolfe, in Aurora. He was sentenced to death in 2005.
Ray appealed the conviction, claiming he had inadequate legal council. The prosecution says Lindecrantz’s testimony could help uphold the conviction.
On Wednesday, the mother of one of the victims and now a state representative, had a brief encounter with Lindecrantz’s attorney and expressed dismay with her refusal to testify.
“She’s a lover of life. She’s a peaceful person, and her heart goes out to you and your family” Newman said to Rep. Rhonda Fields.
“That’s kind of her to say that, but she did take compensation for her job,” replied Fields before walking away.
“It’s true she was paid for her job as all of us are,” Newman said just before Fields headed into the courtroom.
Closing arguments in Ray’s appeal continued Wednesday without the testimony of Lindecrantz which Newman believes shows how little the testimony was needed.
“Ms. Lindecrantz testimony is not necessary in this case. The information the prosecution is seeking from Ms. Lindecrantz is already in the record,” said Newman.
The District Attorney’s Office said it cannot comment on the case.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.