Religion Bars Her From Testifying. Now She's in Jail

She opposes violence on religious grounds, won't testify in death penalty case
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2018 12:38 PM CST
Mennonite Woman's Refusal to Testify Lands Her Behind Bars
This undated booking photo provided by the Arapahoe County, Colo., Sheriff's Office shows Greta Lindecrantz, a defense investigator jailed for refusing to testify for prosecutors in a death penalty appeal.   (Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Greta Lindecrantz says her Mennonite faith bars her from testifying in a death-penalty case in Colorado—and as a result, she's been behind bars since Monday. Lindecrantz worked as an investigator for the defense team of Robert Ray, who was sentenced to death in 2009 for ordering the deaths of two witnesses in another murder case involving Ray, the Denver Post reports. His current defense team is appealing the sentence partly on the claim that he had an ineffective legal team, the Daily Journal reports. Prosecutors want to question Lindecrantz about her work on the case; as the Colorado Independent explains, she is a veteran investigator and prosecutors hope her testimony will prove Ray's team was competent, thus upholding the death sentence. Since Ray's life hinges on the appeal and Mennonites oppose violence in any form, she has refused.

"I can't answer your question," Lindecrantz said more than 70 times as she was questioned Monday in a courtroom packed with fellow Mennonites supporting her. Arapahoe District Judge Michelle Amico ordered her to answer the questions, leading a teary Lindecrantz to reply, "I’d have no problem saying the truth if death wasn’t on the line. I don’t believe in killing fellow human beings or participating in that." As she sobbed while explaining her religious views and why, as the primary breadwinner for her household, being sent to jail would be devastating, Amico said that while the decision was "excruciatingly difficult," Lindecrantz must be held in contempt of court, without bail. She has continued to refuse to testify and could be behind bars for up to six months, the Washington Post reports. Her lawyer is working on an emergency appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. (More Mennonites stories.)

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