Defense Investigator Jailed for Initially Refusing to Testify in Death Penalty Case
by Matt Clarke
Greta Lindercrantz, 67, was jailed for contempt of court by Arapahoe County, Colorado District Judge Michelle Amico on February 26, 2018.
Lindercrantz, a Mennonite defense investigator, had refused to testify in a hearing for Colorado death row prisoner Robert Keith Ray. Lindercrantz was part of Ray’s defense team during his 2009 double-homicide trial; she cited religious opposition to capital punishment as her reason for refusing to answer questions posed by prosecutors in an appellate hearing on Ray’s claim that his attorneys had provided ineffective assistance of counsel.
“I feel like I’m having to choose between you and God,” she told the court. “I feel like I was handed a gun and I was told to point it at Mr. Ray, and the gun might or might not have bullets in it, but I’d have to fire it anyway. I can’t shoot the gun. I can’t shoot the gun.”
Mennonites oppose all forms of violence, including state-sanctioned violence such as the death penalty.
Less than two weeks later, on March 12, 2018, Judge Amico ordered Lindercrantz released from jail after she agreed to testify. A statement from Lindercrantz’s attorney, Mari Neuman, said she had changed her mind after Ray’s current defense team told her that her continued silence was adversely affecting Ray’s legal position.
“Ms. Lindercrantz has always been guided by the overarching faith-based principle that she cannot assist in the taking of life,” the statement said. “Having learned Mr. Ray’s current counsel believes that not obtaining her testimony will adversely affect Mr. Ray’s likelihood of securing a legal remedy to spare his life, Ms. Lindercrantz must take them at their word and reevaluate her position. Based on this dramatic change in circumstance, she has concluded that her religious principles honoring human life now compel that she must testify.”
“She is now going to do what every other person who has ever received a subpoena to testify has been expected to do, and I appreciate that,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said in an interview with NBC News.
The Colorado Court of Appeals had affirmed the contempt ruling on March 2, 2018. Lindercrantz also appealed to Colorado’s Supreme Court, but with her release from jail that appeal was deemed moot. Ray remains on death row.
Sources: www.cbsnews.com, www.denverpost.com, www.cpr.org, www.nbcnews.com, Washington Post