CENTENNIAL, COLO. – For the second day in a row, a private investigator, who is opposed to the death penalty, has been ordered held behind bars, for refusing to testify against a former client who is on death row.
Greta Lindecrantz, 67, of Denver, refused to testify on religious grounds. She said, through her attorneys, that she doesn't want to help put anyone to death.
“She is not a cog in the death penalty machine and she can’t play that role,” said Mari Newman.
Hired by the Defense
Lindecrantz was originally hired by Robert Ray’s defense attorneys.
Ray was convicted of orchestrating the June 20, 2005 shooting deaths of Javad Marshall Fields and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe.
Marshall Fields, 22, was scheduled to testify against Ray in a murder trial involving the 2004 shooting death of Gregory Vann in Lowry Park. He was killed a week before his testimony was due.
Ray appealed the convictions, claiming in part that he had inadequate legal representation.
Prosecutors want to question Lindecrantz as they try to uphold Ray’s convictions.
They outlined their stance in a court document dated January 30, 2018.
Prosecutors noted that Ms. Lindecrantz had previously provided a testimonial equivalent in the form (of) a sworn affidavit on behalf or Robert Ray. "From this, this Court may only conclude that testifying does not offend her religious belief, rather that she wishes to pick and choose for whom she will testify, or what information to provide."
In that same document, prosecutors said, "The People are not asking Ms. Lindecrantz to testify against her church, to advocate for the death penalty, or to carry it out. The People are asking Ms. Lindecrantz to testify truthfully to the compensated efforts made by herself and her business on behalf of defendant Ray."
It goes on to state that Ms. Lindecrantz operated an investigation firm, which included herself and three other investigators, and that she accepted at least $389,552.81 in compensation from the State of Colorado.
"The People seek to question Ms. Lindecrantz about her efforts and the efforts of her employees for the defense of Robert Ray in this capital case," the document stated.
On Monday, 18th Judicial District Court Judge Michelle Amico ordered Lindecrantz to answer the prosecution’s questions.
“If the state weren’t seeking to execute Mr. Ray, she would happily testify, and she said as much, tearfully, in front of the judge,” Newman said.
Amico ruled that Lindecrantz was in contempt of court and ordered her to jail. She was told to be back in court at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Newman told the judge that her client wouldn’t be testifying for the same reasons she had stated the day before.
Newman asked to state, for the record, why she felt the judge was in error. Amico gave her a short amount of time, then cut her off and said that was information she could argue in an appeal to the State Supreme Court.
Amico then ordered Lindecrantz back to jail until 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.
“It was a difficult decision,” Amico said in court, “but it was an important one to make to move these decisions forward.”
In her reply to submitted documents, Amico said "There is a compelling government interest that outweighs any burden to Ms. Lindecrantz's free-exercise rights and there are not alternative and less-restrictive means of obtaining Ms. Lindecrantz's testimony."
“Miscarriage of Justice” claim
“What we just witnessed was a fundamental miscarriage of justice,” Newman said afterward. “Greta Lindecrantz is a nearly 70-year old Mennonite woman who has lived her entire life according to the principals of peace and non-violence. She has a fundamental belief against the killing of other human beings, and specifically against state sanctioned killing, in the form of the death penalty.”
Lindecrantz’s husband, Dave Sidwell, told Denver7, that he and Greta had talked about what might happen, once she got the subpoena.
“It’s not a great situation for us obviously,” he said. “She’s very adamantly opposed to killing another human being, legally, or otherwise.”
Pastor seeks change
Members of two Mennonite congregations, Beloved Community Mennonite Church in Englewood, and First Mennonite Church in Denver, gathered in the courtroom Tuesday, to show support for Greta.
Afterwards, they gathered in front of the Arapahoe County Justice Center and sang a hymn.
“I hope, frankly, that it embarrasses the prosecution,” said Rev. Vern Rempel of Beloved Community Mennonite Church, “not because I have any beef against them as human beings, but I think that the process that’s in play here is toxic and deadly, and needs to be embarrassed out of existence.”
Rempel said the congregations are part of a “great and old dignified movement to understand that God loves every human being, no matter who we are, and we don’t kill as a solution to anything. We don’t get rid of people as a solution to anything.”
Newman said Greta was held in a cell with 9 other women last night, some of whom were retching on the floor, because it was part of detox.
“There was dried feces on the floor,” she said, “but she told me that that nights in jail are not going to cause her to abandon her faith (or) her views that she can’t be a participant in state sanctioned killing, and the killing of another human being.”
Newman said that Greta could spend upwards of 6 months in jail.
“My intention now is to file an appeal,” she said, “an emergency stay of the proceedings.”
When asked how soon she might get a response, she replied, “I will do everything in my power to get the quickest response possible, but unfortunately, the wheels of justice turn slowly, and that is exactly what this court is relying on in holding Ms. Lindecrantz in jail, imprisoning her until she gives up her religious view about the death penalty and testifies for the prosecution.”
Newman said it’s important to note that Lindecrantz has all the sympathy and respect in the world for the families of the victims in the Ray case.
“She has no beef against them,” Newman said. “She supports them and she supports Mr. Ray. She supports human life.”